Ryan's Website: LINK
Every time I think I'm out, they pull me back in! I should have known that when I said that last post was likely the last of post of 2012 that I was setting myself up for another post to have to be put up. This will be one of two posts, the second will be an editorial content on endorsements (in light of Cam Broten scoring the endorsement of MLA Doyle Vermette), though the second post will take a little while to get put up.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Ryan Meili released another campaign policy today, this time focusing on the similarities shared by those seeking to achieve social justice and those of faith. As such, Ryan is focusing on creating a plan to reach out to faith-based communities and use these similarities to foster areas of support.
As such, Ryan's plan calls for the creation of a Faith and Social Justice Commission, modelled off the federal NDP commission, to provide an open space to discuss faith and politics within the party; expanding on the guidance from this committee to develop an outreach strategy to engage faith groups, while listening to their concerns and striving towards finding common goals and egalitarian values shared by the NDP; and finally using these new connections and discussions to develop policy to bring back to the party.
The idea has generated some buzz, including high praise from former Premier Lorne Calvert, though I think there is a lot to be said in the quote from Calvert in the news release: "While the party is not and must not be shaped by religion, faith has
inspired many of us to seek justice through political action." I think the intention is rather clear there, in that no one wants to see the NDP become guided by fundamentalist ideals of any religious group, and any discussion of faith and politics must not go too far.
Ultimately, it will all come down to the balance that the commission strikes between engaging faith based communities and the level of policy guiding that they ultimately achieve in the long term. I don't think anyone wants to see the party compromise on values that we've held for years in order to woo voters from the religious sphere; but I think we must also accept that religious voters who don't support us now will not support us until compromises occur.
It doesn't matter whether or not a person is a firm believer in social justice; if they vote based on a party's stance on abortion, it doesn't matter what you're planning to do with regards to social justice. We can have these discussions, but ultimately I think trying to woo single issue voters by offering more inclusion won't work unless the party compromises on the single issue.
The faith based communities who value social justice over other issues already stand with the NDP, most of the time, and they have a voice in the discussion. We don't have to win this group over, we just have to follow through with an agenda that includes social justice when the NDP is returned to power to keep them in our corner.
I fear I've editorialized this post more than I meant to, but I do think there are valid concerns to have over such a commission as this. There is nothing wrong with having a discussion, and attempting to do better to connect our values with those of faith-based groups throughout Saskatchewan; but at the same time, we must take heed to ensure that we are not crafting party policy that compromises on our own social values.