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New Democratic Party of British Columbia fonds Series
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Convention records

The records in this series relate to the planning, organization, and execution of the provincial NDP conventions held to elect party executive and determine party policy and direction.

The provincial convention is perhaps the most important activity of the provincial NDP, alongside its election activities. Originally held annually (except in rare occasions) until 2001 when it became a bi-annual event, convention is where party policy is adopted and amended, discussion papers are circulated, reports from party executive and caucus members are heard, and elections for internal party positions are held. In addition, each year long-standing and active party members are selected by a committee to be inducted as Honourary Life Members (HLMs). Often during election years, the Federal NDP Leader would also attend the convention and address the BC provincial party members.

During the conventions, each electoral constituency would elect delegates to represent them at the convention, and submit any resolutions passed by their constituencies for consideration as Party policy. Constituency delegates at the convention would debate and vote upon policy (based on the submitted resolutions), as well as elect the party’s executive, made up of Table Officers (Party president, vice presidents, membership secretary, treasurer) and members-at-large. When necessary, the convention would also elect the party’s new leader. Each delegate would receive a convention kit upon arrival containing the minutes of the previous convention, reports from the party executives and standing committees, party financial reports, all policy to be considered that year, and other related materials. Conventions are traditionally presided over by the provincial party president, or by one of the vice-presidents, and tend to span several days. Important policy not able to be addressed or decided upon at convention may be referred to the Provincial Council for further discussion, and/or added to the resolutions under review at convention the following year. Over the years, many of the kits contained an explanation of Convention to new members (such as file 428-06, “1984 convention kit), which can be consulted for further information.

Convention organization was usually coordinated out of the provincial office, with one person tasked as the convention coordinator, supported by several committees, most notably the Convention Arrangements Committee (CAC) and the Resolutions Committee. In many cases, members of the provincial executive and internal party staff members (such as the Provincial Secretary, the Director of Organization, and/or the Director of Communications) would be members of the Convention Arrangements Committee, and would handle the coordination and planning of the event. The Resolutions Committee would receive resolutions sent in by constituencies (or submitted from regional conferences, as began occurring as of 1988), organize these into categories (such as Health, Economics, or Constitution and Party Affairs), and then determine an order of priority so the most pressing issues in each category would be given priority floor time. Constituencies could also submit Emergency Resolutions which were time-sensitive and generally related to recent provincial, national, or global events. Other convention organizing committees over time have included the Leadership Rules Committee, The Balloting Committee, the Credentials Committee, and the Harassment Committee.

Records in this series include correspondence, budget documents, drafts, convention kit materials and other public communications, memoranda and bulletins, meeting agendas and minutes, and other related materials.

Committee records

This series reflects the activities and functions of various of the standing and ad hoc committees of the BC New Democratic Party. Committees were a regular part of NDP organizational structure, most often mimicking the structure of the Party Executive, with elected Chairs, Secretaries, Table Officers, representatives and liaisons from other committees and organizations, Members-at-large, and in some cases, a paid Organizer who could devote all of their energy to accomplishing the objectives of the committee. Committees regularly prepared reports on their activities for convention (and sometimes to Provincial Council, just as each committee's Organizer would prepare reports on their activities between meetings. Most standing committees would articulate a mandate, mission statement, or constitution, and would prepare resolutions to be voted on at Convention.

This series contains the records of various committees of the New Democratic Party of British Columbia, including: the Computer Committee, the Constitution & Party Affairs Commitee, Labour Liaison Committee, the Democrat Committee, the Young New Democrats (YND), the Revenue Generation Task Force, the Standing Committee on the Environment, and more. Further subseries contain records relating to the Women's Rights Committee, the Policy Review Committee, and the Multicultural Committee are also included. Items include: meeting minutes and agenda, memos and correspondence, financial documents, clippings, strategy and constitutional documents, resolutions, notes, and other related material.

Records of complaints

Records in this series reflect the activities of the Provincial Secretary, Party president, and other members in response to formal complaints submitted to the Party.

While informal complaints submitted by Party members are regularly received and replied to by the Provincial Secretary or by another relevant Party member, the NDP additionally has a formal complaints process in place, as outlined in the Party Constitution. Article 16.02 of the "Constitution of the New Democratic Party of British Columbia" (as amended, June 1999) states that a complaint "may be lodged with the Provincial President by any member or constituted body of the Party alleging a violation of the constitution or a statement or action resulting in severe and evident injustice to a member or constituted body of the Party." Complaints were to be submitted in writing with any pertinent evidence included, details of the events that gave rise to the complaint, and the remedy sought (article 16.04). Should the President be unable to resolve the matter equitably, a special panel could be appointed to mediate the dispute, and/or it could be referred to the Provincial Executive for consideration within 30 days (16.05). It was also "a breach of the principles and policies of the New Democratic Party for any member to seek redress for any complaint against another member or body of the Party through public notice or solicitation," (16.08), an act that items in this series suggest happened occasionally, leading to further complaints and mediation.

Complaints contained in this series are varied in the nature of the issue and in the amount of documentation accorded to each, but several cases revolve around allegations of irregular member sign-up practices during nomination periods, or other nomination irregularities. Items in this series include correspondence (predominant), notes, membership cards, memos and public communications, some clippings, and other related materials.

Provincial Secretary correspondence

Records in this series reflect the functions and activities of the Provincial Secretary, in maintaining communication with Party members and members of the public, coordinating election campaigns and strategies, and administering the provincial office. A central coordinating figure in the Party, the Provincial Secretary acts as a communications hub and spokesperson, ensuring coordination between different groups, committees, and members of the party. A 1989 description of the role of the Provincial Secretary, found in file 449-14, described the position's responsibilities as such:

  • Administers the policies, plans and strategies of the provincial party as adopted by the Executive, Council, and Convention
  • Administers the provincial office of the party
  • Liaises with all sections and components of the party
  • Provincial campaign manager
    To fulfill these duties, the Provincial Secretary is often a member of numerous committees, and usually sits as a member of all executive levels of the party (Table Officers, Provincial Executive, and Provincial Council).

Records included in this series span several Provincial Secretaries, including:

  • 1985 - 1987: Gerry Scott
  • 1987 - 1992: Hans Brown
  • 1992 - 1993: Ray Whitehead
  • 1993 - 1994: Keith Reynolds
  • 1994 - 1999: Brian Gardiner
  • 1999 - 2000: Ron Stipp (Acting Provincial Secretary)
  • 2000 - 2002: Ed Lavalle

The files contain correspondence predominantly sent and received by Gerry Scott, Hans Brown, Brian Gardiner, and Ed Lavalle. Items in this series are predominantly correspondence, though often with related materials attached, including public memos, news clippings, policy and strategy documents, poll results, and other related materials.

Records of the Director of Administration

Records in this series represent the functions and activities of the Director of Administration for the British Columbia New Democratic Party.

File 449-14, in the "Women's Rights Committee (WRC) records" series of this fonds, includes a document entitled "Provincial Office Staffing," that defines the Director of Administration's duties as pertaining to "Election finances, tax receipts and paper flow, Party finances, cash flow, accounting, budgeting, back-up to Provincial Secretary," as well as implying supervision of specific staff and projects. The Director of Administration would often join the Provincial Secretary as a member of the B.C. Council of Federal Ridings, and would manage records related to the Federal NDP, local constituency associations, clubs, and holding societies. The Director would also manage much of the correspondence sent to the Provincial Office.

The majority of records in this series have been created by two Directors; Lin Rubin, and Sherry Hyde, who took over the Director position ca. 1991. Records in this series include correspondence, memos, budget and finance documents, meeting agenda and minutes, notes, speech transcripts, clippings, and other related materials.

Legal proceedings, investigations, and inquiries

Series consists of three subseries relating to court cases, commissions of inquiry, investigations, and related events that involved or significantly impacted the New Democratic Party or its members.

1) Files related to the David Stockell case
2) Nanaimo Commonwealth Holding Society records
3) Files related to Robin Blencoe

Election records

Materials in this series cover BC NDP activities in support of elections held at the municipal, provincial, and federal level. Provincial elections covered by materials in the series include 1983, 1986, 1991, 1996, and 2001; federal elections covered include 1988, 1993, 1997, 2000, and 2004. A separate subseries contains a large amount of Party candidate biographies dating predominantly from the 1970's, which were kept at the Central Office for reuse and reference. Though polls can be found throughout the series, a large concentration of them were received grouped together, and have been kept as such in their own subseries. Similarly, records related to the one-time activity around the Fisher Commission on Electoral Redistribution (1986-1989) have been placed in their own subseries.

As a political party, elections represent a primary activity and concern of the BC NDP, in which the Provincial Secretary would play an important role. In several cases, former Provincial Secretaries would be hired by the Party as Campaign Managers. The Director of Communications would also play a key role during elections, often acting as a member or the chair of a Communications Subcommittee of the Elections Planning Committee (EPC; also referred to as the Strategy and Elections Planning Committee or SEPC) and overseeing advertising, public opinion, and party messaging in conjunction with the Campaign Manager. The EPC or SEPC, a standing committee, was generally made up of members of the Executive, as well as important contractors (such as advertisement producers) engaged by the party to assist in its elections efforts. The Director of Organization was often a member of the EPC as well, and oversaw the coordination of campaign organizers in each electoral district. The majority of the records found throughout these subseries have been created either by the Provincial Secreatary or the Director of Communications.

Records include correspondence, notes and drafts, memos, public announcements, polls, media clippings, court documents, agendas and minutes, public communications, budgetary documents, candidate biographies and supporting materials, campaign literature, strategy and messaging documents, reports, schedules, and other related materials.

Records of the Director of Organization

Files in this series reflect the functions and activities of the Director of Organization of the BC NDP. Based at the provincial office, a 1989 document entitled "Provincial Office Staffing (file 449-14, in the "Women's Rights Committee (WRC) records") describes the Director of Organization's activities as including acting as a liaison with labour union representatives, constituency profile coordination and development, voter registration drive coordinaton, by-election recruitment and monitoring, computer services coordination, pre-election organizational planning, workshop development, and attending the Strategy and Elections Planning Committee (SEPC), in addition to overseeing and liaising with several projects and representatives. The Director of Organization was, at various times, members of other committees, such as the Federal Finance Committee and the Computer Committee.

Files in this series have been created by several Directors of Organization, including John Pollard, Ron Stipp (ca. 1992), Russ Neally (ca. 2000), and Heather Fraser (ca. 2004). They include topics such as by-election organizing, conventions, Party membership, budgeting and financial matters, electoral redistribution, and more. Items include correspondence, memos, meeting minutes and agenda, handwritten notes, surveys and poll results, clippings,

Records of the table officers, provincial executive, and provincial council

This series consists predominantly of the meeting minutes, agenda, notes, and supporting documents circulated for review or discussion of the NDP's Table Officers, Provincial Executive, and Provincial Council.

Outside of the Provincial NDP Convention, these three bodies comprise the most important governing bodies of the Party. The Table Officers include the Party President, two Vice presidents, the Party Leader, the Provincial Secretary, and the Treasurer. Table Officers would meet regularly, sometimes more than once a week via teleconference, to manage the strategic direction and positioning of the Party, discussing relevant breaking news, campaign strategy, public messaging, budgetary considerations, and party operations. Each member was charged with specific executive tasks, and would prepare reports on their activities for the Provincial Executive and Provincial Council.

The Provincial Executive consists of all the Table officers, and additional positions. In the early days of the CCF/NDP, this included the outgoing President and 6 other members elected by the Provincial Council; by 1992 the Provincial Executive consisted of "the Leader, President, six Vice-Presidents, Treasurer, Secretary, Past President, four Executive Members at Large, two Federal Council representatives elected at Federal Convention, two representatives of each regional area in B.C., two YND representatives and the YND representative to Federal Council. The Provincial Secretary is not an elected position of the Party." ("Notes for Delegate Orientation Sessions" in the 1992 convention kit; file 430-09). The Provincial Executive carries out the "administrative function and conducts the affairs of the Party between Council meetings," and would hear reports from Table Officers, review budget documents prepared by the Treasurer, and plan the party's upcoming events and activities. The Executive met less frequently than the Table Officers

The Provincial Council acts as the Party's broadest governing body between conventions, able to deliberate and vote on motions sent from Convention for review and further discussion, and/or emergency motions that cannot wait until the next Convention. Council was comprised of all Executive members, as well as an elected delegate from each constituency association, and representatives from the YND and "affiliated organizations" (file 430-09). Council would meet less frequently, usually 4 times a year, to make policy decisions, set Party budgets, allocate revenue sharing strategies, share constituency reports, and assess the Party's direction, among other activities.

These files contain minutes, agenda, policy documents, media clippings, financial statements, strategy documents, memoranda, correspondence, copies of court documents, public communications, resolutions, handwritten notes and drafts, and other related materials.

Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) records

This series contains materials related to the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation's BC and Yukon chapter, as well as some early BC NDP materials.

The Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), widely considered Canada's first socialist political party, was founded in Calgary, Alberta on July 31, 1932 by a gathering of socialist and labour groups, and political activists, brought together by the increasing challenges of the Great Depression. The party's first leader was James Shaver Woodsworth, a former Methodist minister, social activist, and outspoken Member of Parliament. The BC section of the CCF was formed in 1933 by a coalition of the Socialist Party of Canada (BC), the League for Social Reconstruction, and other related organizations. In the 1933 provincial elections, the new provincial party managed to secure enough votes to become the official opposition until 1937. In 1961, the federal CCF changed its name to the New Democratic Party, following an alliance with the Canadian Labour Congress; most sections quickly followed suit.

Records in this series are by no means a complete portrait of CCF years; rather they appear represent stray records donated by retiring NDP members or found in the provincial office. Items in this series include correspondence, meeting minutes, reports, clippings, CCF convention materials, budget documents, early NDP publications, and other related materials.

Federal NDP records

The records in this series relate to the BC NDP's activities and relationship with the federal New Democratic Party of Canada. The provincial party maintained regular contact with the national party through participation in federal executive, council, and caucus meetings throughout the year. These activities increased during federal elections, as each provincial party worked closely with federal organizers and representatives to coordinate provincial campaigns in support of the national election. Other party business, including finances, party renewal and membership, messaging, party structure, and related issues are also represented in these files.

In most cases, it appears that the Provincial Secretary represented the provincial party as a member of the Federal Executive (see for example, file 418-02, which contains a card congratulating Provincial Secretary Hans Brown on his nomination to the Federal Executive, 1991-1993). Correspondingly, the majority of these records appear to have been created by the Provincial Secretary - including over the course of the series Provincial Secretaries Gerry Scott, Hans Brown, Ray Whitehead, and Keith Reynolds. In some cases the individual creator could not be definitively determined, and some files suggest that another member of the provincial executive may have represented the BC NDP at federal meetings or on specific committees (see the Related materials note below).

These records include correspondence, polls, public communications, memoranda, strategy documents, media clippings, agendas and minutes, position and policy documents, and other related materials.

Recall records

Records in this series relate to several Recall campaigns initiated under the Recall Initiative Act, against NDP party members and other elected officials ca. 1996-2000.

The Recall and Initiative Act was first introduced by the Attorney General to the Legislative Assembly as Bill 36, in June of 1994, received Royal Assent on July 8 1994, and was brought into force by Order in Council on February 24, 1995. It was amended September 1, 1995 as a result of changes to the Election Act, and consolidated in the 1996 Revised Statutes of British Columbia as RSBC 1996 Chapter 398. As of 2011, British Columbia is the only province with Recall legislation in place. Almost immediately following the act’s adoption, the NDP found Recall campaigns initiated against several of its MLA’s, most notably in Skeena, Comox Valley, and Prince George North.

The Recall and Initiative Act is administered by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO). According to Elections BC, Recall is, “is a process that allows registered voters to petition for the removal of a Member of the Legislative Assembly between elections. Any registered voter can apply to have a petition issued for the recall of their MLA. …A Member cannot be recalled during the first 18 months after their election.” Within 60 days of successfully filing a recall petition, Recall proponents must collect signatures in support of the recall from at least 40% of the registered voters in an MLA’s riding for the motion to succeed. No specific rules or limitations govern the reasons for initiating recall. As of 2011, the CEO has overseen 24 recall campaigns, of which 23 have been unsuccessful, and in the final case, Liberal MLA Paul Reitsma resigned before the results could be tallied.

Following the 1996 Provincial election, recall campaigns were initiated in Prince George North (MLA Paul Ramsey, proponent Pertti Harkonen) and Skeena (MLA Helmut Giesbrecht, proponent G. Lorne Sexton), days after the 18 month suspension following election expired. Shortly after, another major campaign began in Comox Valley (MLA Evelyn Gillespie, proponent Robert Saint Amour). Several of these MLA’s further experienced secondary recall campaigns, but the majority of these were never submitted to the CEO within the required 60 days. A third recall campaign was initiated against Paul Ramsey (proponent former Liberal MLA Bob Viergever), but was also never submitted. In several ridings, supporters of the elected MLA’s formed anti-recall groups and campaigns, such as the Citizens for Local Democracy in Prince George North, the Skeena Taxpayer’s Association, and the Comox Valley Citizens Concerned About Fairness. A dispute between Prince George North recall proponent Pertti Harkonen and CEO Robert Patterson regarding which of the voters' lists provided by the CEO to the recall campaign should be used as the basis for determining the success or failure of the campaigns led to a judicial review, Harkonen v. Patterson. Other attempts to begin campaigns, including a “Recall Glen Clark” campaign, and a "Total Recall" campaign (in which proponents sought to recall all elected NDP officials), are also covered by the series. In 1998, following allegations of fraud, confusion around the act, and overspending on the part of MLA’s, forensic accountant Ronald Parks, of Lindquist Avey Macdonald Baskerville, was engaged by CEO Robert Patterson to investigate and report back (known as the Parks Report, 1999). In 1998, following a December 1997 interview with Paul Ramsey for the Vancouver Province (reporter Donald Hauka), Ramsey launched a libel suit against Hauka, Ben Meisner of CKPG Radio in Prince George, and Pacific Press for misinterpreting a statement he made, and repeating this misinterpretation with defamatory statements (Ramsey v. Pacific Press). The case was eventually settled out of court.

Records in this series include financial documents, correspondence, media clippings, public communications, copies of legislation and court documents, and other records related to recall initiatives in British Columbia.