NDP to settle leadership question this Sunday
December 8, 2006

NDP to settle leadership question this Sunday

They are planning to celebrate the party’s 30th anniversary but this Sunday’s convention will also see the New Democratic Party (NDP) attempt to put to rest leadership questions that have been the subject of public debate in recent weeks.

After last December’s second decisive loss to the Unity Labour Party (ULP) questions were raised about Arnhim Eustace’s leadership. Was he the man to change the party’s fortune after two terms on the opposition benches?{{more}}

Three stalwarts of the NDP, who served the party at the zenith of its 17 years of power, are scheduled to address the party faithful during the convention. As the rallying cry is being made, a crucial step is also going to be taken in the party’s thrust forward to the 2010 scheduled general elections.

In 2001, Eustace led the party to a resounding defeat in the polls having just a few months before been handed the leadership mantle by party founder, Sir James Mitchell.

Many pundits refused to place that loss on Eustace but last year’s beating fell squarely in his lap and he himself reasoned that it was important to reaffirm the party’s confidence in his leadership.

“After last General Elections the party’s delegates should be given the opportunity to decide who is best to lead them into the next one,” said Eustace at a recent press conference.

He had a NDP constitutional mandate to lead the party for two more years but chose to cut it short.

The battle that promised to gather steam was cooled by the public support for Eustace by the three men who were touted as possible challengers – Senators Daniel Cummings and St Claire Leacock and Dr. Linton Lewis.

“The first order of the day for me is to win my seat, you can’t contemplate leading a party when you can’t win a seat,” was Senator Leacock’s take on the issue recently while Lewis, regarded as the most likely choice, said that he had no intention of challenging Eustace at this year’s convention. While he admitted in a recent published interview that he had ambitions of leading the party he said that it was not “the primary focus now.”

So the convention’s planned morning anniversary celebration may very well be the launching pad of the evening session’s expected reaffirmation of faith in Eustace.

That expected finish could yet be altered though because according to NDP’s Constitution nominations could be submitted on the day of the convention. So it is a matter of “wait and see” as to whether a strong nomination could change the minds of the NDP’s top brass.

Could a leadership change yet take place?