New Democratic Party Socialist Caucus

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New Democratic Party
Socialist Caucus
Formation 1998; 19 years ago (1998)
Purpose Promotion of democratic socialist policies within the New Democratic Party
Region served
Barry Weisleder (since 1998)
Affiliations New Democratic Party

The New Democratic Party Socialist Caucus is an unofficial[1] left-wing faction within Canada's New Democratic Party. Its manifesto maintains that the New Democratic Party has moved too far to the right, and is in danger of becoming indistinguishable from the Liberal Party.[2] Consequently, the Socialist Caucus also opposes Tony Blair's Third Way policies because they "[leave] the basic class and economic structures of capitalism unchanged."[3] The policies of the socialist caucus are similar to the Socialist Campaign Group in the United Kingdom however, unlike the SCG, the Socialist Caucus does not enjoy the public support of any elected parliamentarians.


The Socialist Caucus was founded in early 1998 in Toronto by Barry Weisleder, Joe Flexer, Sean Cain, Jorge Hurtado and other political activists who had been involved in Peter Kormos' unsuccessful 1996 campaign to lead the Ontario New Democratic Party. It soon had branches in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, as well as supporters in Manitoba, Quebec and Nova Scotia. It is now active primarily in Ontario at the federal and provincial levels. It also has supporters in other provinces.

The caucus views itself as the successor to the Waffle of the 1960s and 1970s and a number of members in the Socialist Caucus were also in the NDP's Left Caucus and the Campaign for an Activist Party or CAP of the 1980s.

The Trotskyist group Socialist Action plays a "leading role"[4] in the Socialist Caucus.


The group is a socialist faction and advocates economic democracy and workers' control, full employment, the nationalization of large industries and the eradication of poverty and homelessness.[5]

The caucus is anti-imperialist, and condemns many of the actions of the United States' government. It supports the Cuban Revolution[6] and the withdrawal of Canada from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the independence of Quebec and is opposed to Zionism.[7]

Leadership campaigns[edit]

In 2001, the Socialist Caucus ran Marcel Hatch in a leadership challenge against Alexa McDonough. Hatch won 120 votes out of 765 ballots cast. Bev Meslo was the Socialist Caucus' candidate in the party's 2003 leadership election, winning 1.1% of the vote in the party's first One Member One Vote leadership election, which was won by Jack Layton.

After an unsuccessful attempt to draft Peter Kormos to run for the leadership of the Ontario NDP failed, the Socialist Caucus endorsed Michael Prue leading up to the 2009 ONDP leadership election.[8]

In the 2012 federal NDP leadership election, the Socialist Caucus endorsed Niki Ashton.[9]

At present, the group is attempting to draft former Ontario Federation of Labour president Sid Ryan to run in the 2017 federal NDP leadership election.[10]

Other activities[edit]

In 2011, the Socialist Caucus proposed resolutions at that year's federal NDP convention to oppose the Alberta oil sands, legalize marijuana, boycott "apartheid Israel", repeal the Clarity Act, and nationalize auto, bank and insurance companies.[11] In the wake of the NDP's breakthrough in the 2011 federal election in which they won over 100 seats and formed Official Opposition in the House of Commons for the first time, Socialist Caucus chair Barry Weisleder told The Globe and Mail that "the election on May 2 sent a very clear message: the voters rejected the Liberal Party and the NDP should not strive to become a substitute Liberal Party. That’s the road to ruin", adding that "To survive, the NDP has to turn left and offer Canadians and in particular working people, an alternative to the corporate agenda."[11] The faction also opposed a motion to remove the phrase "democratic socialism" from the preamble of the NDP's constitution and supported an unsuccessful resolution to bar the NDP from considering merger with the Liberal Party of Canada.[1] None of the resolutions proposed by the Socialist Caucus received enough support to reach the floor of the convention for debate.

The Socialist Caucus publishes a newspaper named Turn Left, edited by Sean Cain, for each federal and Ontario provincial NDP convention. Beginning with the 2011 NDP convention issue, the publication took the form of a magazine.[12]

In September 2011, caucus chair Barry Weisleder won the nomination to be the Ontario NDP's candidate in Thornhill in the 2011 provincial election. Within 48 hours, the party's provincial secretary rescinded the nomination without explanation.[13]

The Socialist Caucus opposed moves by the NDP at the 2011 and 2013 federal conventions to rewrite the preamble of the party's constitution in order to remove its commitment to socialism.[14]

The Socialist Caucus in the Ontario New Democratic Party criticized Andrea Horwath's conduct of the party's campaign in the 2014 provincial election and unsuccessfully called for a review of her leadership at the party's subsequent convention in November 2014.[15]

During the 2015 federal election, caucus leader Barry Weisleder has been outspoken in his criticisms of the party's platform and campaign, claiming that the party had moved to the right under leader Tom Mulcair. Weisleder told the National Post that the party under Mulcair had undergone "a continuation of the movement towards conservative policies. It remains a party linked to working people and the working-class organizations in the country. But its leadership and the policies of that leadership continue to embrace the capitalist order."[16] Subsequently, the Socialist Caucus called for the removal of Mulcair as party leader and supported a leadership review at the NDP convention held in April 2016 in Edmonton.[17]


  1. ^ a b Smith, Joanna (June 19, 2011). "NDP will remain socialists for now". Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved September 4, 2011. 
  2. ^ Manifesto for a Socialist Canada: The Way Forward for the New Democratic Party (PDF) (4th ed.). New Democratic Party Socialist Caucus. June 2001 [First published 1999]. pp. i–ii, 12. Retrieved September 4, 2011. 
  3. ^ NDP Socialist Caucus 2001, pp. 15–16.
  4. ^ Weisleder, Barry (September 2009). "NDP Brass Treads Water in Halifax; No New Name, No New Policies". Socialist Action. Socialist Action. Retrieved September 4, 2011. 
  5. ^ 2009 Resolutions, 5, 6, 7, 14, 15, 17, 23, 26
  6. ^ Resolution for Cuba and Socialism, On the Issues
  7. ^ 2009 Resolutions, 14, 16
  8. ^ SC endorses Michael Prue for ONDP Leader, prepares for ONDP Convention, website link
  9. ^ NDP Socialist Caucus (Spring 2012). "Niki Ashton: The Best Choice for More Democracy in the NDP" (PDF). Turn Left. Retrieved March 24, 2012. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b Curry, Bill (June 3, 2011). "'To survive, the NDP has to turn left,' diehards tell Layton". The Globe and Mail. Toronto, ON. ISSN 0319-0714. Retrieved September 4, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Turn Left, official magazine of the Social Caucus". New Democratic Party Socialist Caucus. Retrieved September 4, 2011. 
  13. ^ Zarzour, Kim (September 6, 2011). "NDP rescinds nomination of Thornhill candidate: Barry Weisleder, chairperson of party's socialist caucus, beat out longtime candidate". (Metroland Newspapers). Retrieved September 7, 2011. 
  14. ^ Cohen, Tobi (April 12, 2013). "Socialist faction threatens harmony at NDP love-in". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "NDP's Tom Mulcair too right, says left wing of his own party". National Post. August 28, 2015. Retrieved September 2, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Conference Report". NDP Socialist Caucus. Retrieved December 11, 2015. 

External links[edit]