In November I was asked to lead a thorough and extensive review of our campaign. In accepting this task, I pledged to the party membership that this effort would be honest, avoid the temptation to gloss over shortcomings and ultimately offer us a blueprint forward where we would learn from our mistakes and do better next time.
A working group was established to assist in this task and you can read our terms of reference online. The consultation process has been focused on three questions: what worked, what didn’t, and what we need to start doing as we continue to build and strengthen our movement.
To date we have heard from tens of thousands of New Democrats through online surveys, telephone town halls, teleconferences, and community consultations. Right now, our campaign review working group is conducting a series of regional visits to get a better understanding of how our campaign unfolded on the ground.
The working group and I have heard about successes and disappointments. We’ve talked about ideas for the future.
Below is a brief list of feedback on the campaign that we have heard most frequently from our members:
- Many have told us that they were proud of their local campaigns, and deeply respected their local candidates.
- We ran our strongest ground game in history and raised more money than ever before.
- We took principled positions in difficult circumstances – of this our supporters are very proud.
- Our new state of the art voter contact database worked well and empowered campaigns on the ground.
- Our campaign presented us as cautious change, which was out of sync with Canadians’ desire for a dramatic break from the decade of Harper’s rule, a desire we contributed to building.
- Many members and supporters have told us that there wasn’t a clear message. The lack of a strong, simple narrative made it more difficult to present a coordinated national campaign despite the strengths of local campaigns in many regions.
- We have heard a strong call from members to further develop organizing strategies to reach a broader and more diverse audience. As well as a call to develop new and improved ways to engage more meaningfully with our members and supporters.
- Our balanced budget pledge was in part responsible for presenting us as cautious change. It allowed the Liberals to contrast themselves from the Conservatives more clearly and overshadowed our strongly progressive economic platform which included higher taxes on corporations, crackdown on tax havens and a federal minimum wage.
- The platform has had very positive reviews – however the launch failed to highlight how together these ideas would dramatically help people and represent the kind of change that Canadians desired and the release came late in the campaign.
- External factors like strategic vote campaigns, media coverage, and the campaign length have also been acknowledged by many. As have our own decisions about interactions with media, which debates we would participate in and which we would ignore. Certain decisions distracted our campaign and disappointed our supporters.
Throughout all the conversations and consultations thus far I have been moved by the constructive tone of the comments, and the abundance of great ideas. This dialogue gives me great confidence in the strength of our movement and the future of our party.
We recognize the need to hear from many more of you and that’s why we will continue traveling the country to conduct campaign debriefs with candidates and campaign workers.
If you have not had a chance to give your feedback on the campaign yet, I urge you to take a moment now and send me your comments:
The working group will submit a summary report based on your feedback with recommendations to the the incoming Federal Executive, Federal Council and our Caucus.
Your insight and recommendations will guide us all in preparing our party for the next election.
With thanks and solidarity,
Canada’s New Democrats