City of North Vancouver councillor and former candidate for North Vancouver-Lonsdale Craig Keating is hoping he can help steer the provincial New Democratic Party to a win in 2017 as party president.
Keating made himself the first to declare a bid for the job on Thursday morning.
"It was a decision that came over the course of the summer talking to hundreds of members and supporters of the NDP who were as shocked as I was about the loss we suffered in May and who are as dedicated as I am to making sure we put in the hard work right now that we need to win in 2017 - so we don't lose a fifth consecutive election and that we can begin to win on a regular basis in the 21st century politics that we have now," Keating said.
Party presidents oversee how the party raises funds and uses its resources, manage the party's paid staff and work with the leader and caucus to keep everyone on the same page.
Specifically, Keating said the NDP needs to be doing a better job of "articulating bold policies" and seriously revamping the way the party conducts voter identification intel.
"We need to get in touch with some of the latest methods of organizing and using data in modern elections. We've seen this in the states. The Democratic Party, with low resources, has been able to withstand the onslaught of the hugely funded Republican machine by doing modern forms of organizing, data collection and using it in elections," Keating said.
That will be a long-term project on which the NDP can't waste any time, added Keating.
"It's only three-and-a-half years until the next election," he said.
"It'll go by in a flash unless we're doing hard work right now."
The NDP is scheduled to hold its convention in November, at which time delegates from constituencies around the province will meet to vote for their president, a paid position, and executive.
Current president Moe Sihota, who was elected in 2009, has not stated his plans yet.
"I think Moe's done some great work but the members I've talked to this summer have been very keen to see some substantial change in how we move in the party. Arguably that means the personalities that are involved," Keating said.
As for whether that also means New Democrats ought to be selecting a new leader, Keating said it's too soon to say.
"I think we need to give Adrian (Dix) the opportunity to make up his own mind on his future.. .. I think, quite frankly, leadership is almost immaterial to the challenges we face right now," he said. "If I'm successful as party president, I have to work with whomever the leader of the party is and it has to be a close relationship. I think it would be inappropriate at this stage to get out and say, 'favourites, not favourites, whathave-you.'" If elected, Keating will remain on city council and he intends to run again in 2014. If his workload becomes too heavy, Keating said he will likely cut back the hours he puts in as a history instructor at Langara College.
"Bruce Ralston.. . for many years served as a Surrey city councillor, was a practising lawyer and was party president as well," Keating said, "I think it's something that can be done and has been done."
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