New deal for young New Democrats

MYND members can now vote directly for their preferred candidate

MYND co-chair Emily Clark thinks the new voting system will make it less confusing for young New Democrats. Cindy Titus

The youth faction of the Manitoba New Democratic Party is making headlines over a decision that has changed the group’s delegate selection process for the Oct. 16 convention.

Initial party rules outlined that the selection of the Manitoba Young New Democrats (MYND) delegates would be similar to that seen at the riding level – a meeting where riding members vote for delegates to represent them at the convention. The party recently circumvented those rules. MYND members will now vote for the candidate of their choosing (Greg Selinger or Steve Ashton), with delegates being divided proportionally based on that vote.

A meeting was held for Winnipeg members to vote for candidates this past Tuesday, Oct. 6, in the University of Winnipeg Bulman Centre, while rural members cast mail-in ballots.

“I think many people would like to change the selection process overall,” said Sarah Zaharia, MYND co-ordinator for Greg Selinger’s campaign. “Because the MYND is an affiliate of the party [unlike a riding association] ... we were able to change the process for the better.”

MYND comprises any member of the party between 14 and 25. As such, the membership is spread across the province and makes a province-wide selection meeting unlikely.

“The system works fine in smaller constituencies,” said Emily Clark, co-chair of MYND. “I believe the decision was made to make it less confusing ... they did not want to disenfranchise any young voters.”

At the start of the campaign, there could have been up to 400 delegate hopefuls on a mail-in ballot. With the changes, each member voted for either Selinger or Ashton, decreasing the likelihood of confusion and spoiled ballots, said Clark.

MYND receives one delegate per 10 members. With over 1,000 members, MYND will be represented by 107 delegates at the convention.

Additionally, MYND members can run as delegates at the riding level, increasing youth representation in a convention with 2,000 delegates. With an upsurge of over 800 new MYND members, the group is confident they can make a difference.

“In general I think the youth wing brings a lot of life to the party, particularly during election,” said Devin Johnston, a member of MYND. “Obviously we are only one segment of a large party, but if the race is close we have the opportunity to play a very crucial role.”

The MYND has been advocating for increased access to post-secondary education, greener policy initiatives and the creation of a minister to liaise with the youth of the party.

Published in Volume 64, Number 6 of The Uniter (October 8, 2009)

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