New Democrats know how to hold a party

New Democrats know how to hold a party Willard Phelps says it's time for a change, like two steps back for one step forward? The main reason I and many others support party politics is because parties have philosophies and policies that are a direct re

Willard Phelps says it’s time for a change, like two steps back for one step forward?

The main reason I and many others support party politics is because parties have philosophies and policies that are a direct result of consultation with our grassroot members and democratic decision-making at conventions where members vote.

The leader and caucus are given direction to champion those policies in opposition and government.

And when they don’t, as is the case with Dennis Fentie and the Yukon Energy scandal, they run into trouble.

Thank goodness the New Democrats were elected in 1985 on the promise of settling land claims and re-opening the Faro mine.

They delivered on both, and more, and brought the territory out of the dark ages with truly progressive government.

Who were the first to work to diversify the economy and have sustainable development?

Who brought in the Human Rights Act, the Environment Act, the Education Act, Child Care, the Women’s Directorate and a long list of other hugely progressive measures?

It was a party that was elected to deliver on those promises and they did Ð the New Democrats.

It was certainly not Willard Phelps and it was certainly not a collection of independents.

As I recall, Phelps was kicking and screaming against those things the whole way, both as a Conservative party member and as an independent.

He had no mandate from the people to prop up a Conservative minority government in 1992, but he did Ð without any direction from anyone.

Party politics is not perfect and neither is democracy, but it is something that has brought huge advancements to our society and can and should be improved.

Once again it is the New Democrats in the Yukon who are leading the way and who have proposed a number of realistic measures to make things better.

And the writing on the wall is so huge that the rest of the legislature finally voted, quite recently, for the NDP initiatives.

That’s the kind of direction and leadership people can expect from the NDP.

Good things can happen with the right people working together in the right direction and a mandate from the people to deliver on their promises.

Let’s hope that in 2010 we can finally say goodbye to the Fentie era of darkness and let in fresh air and attitudes with Elizabeth Hanson and the New Democrats.

Kathy Hanifan, president

Yukon New Democrats

Whitehorse