Toronto’s young NDPers hope new leader will reach out to racialized communities better

By: Jessica Smith Cross Metro Published on Tue Apr 12 2016

NDP members Laura Nguyen and Guled Arale say their party must do a better job of reaching out to ethnically diverse communities in the GTA than it has in the past.
NDP members Laura Nguyen and Guled Arale say their party must do a better job of reaching out to ethnically diverse communities in the GTA than it has in the past.

Young New Democrats in Toronto say they’re hoping their next leader will reach out to diverse, racialized communities better than the party has in the past.

“Outreach to racialized and ethnic communities is a huge issue,” said Laura Nguyen, a party member and local election organizer.

After the party voted Sunday to turf Tom Mulcair as leader, four young New Democrats who are active with their party in Toronto told Metro they want to seize the moment to make some real changes to the NDP’s relationship with diverse ethnic communities in Toronto and the GTA.

Guled Arale, a co-chair of the Ontario youth wing of the NDP, said in order to reach those communities the party’s next leader should, her or himself reflect Canada’s diversity better — and so should the top echelons of the party.

“We need leader that understands the importance of this and actually puts an effort in to show up, and put resources into connecting with these communities,” Arale said.

Nguyen agrees.

“As a younger person, as someone who’s not white, I’ve had problems with the party, personally, where I feel there’s just a lot of old white guys in this party and there’s not always the space for people who don’t fit that mold to come in and have their voices heard,” she said.

The need to connect better with the city became clear when party was completely excluded from Toronto in the last election — despite having a Toronto-specific platform, said Nguyen.

Matias De Dovitiis, president of the Humber River – Black Creek riding association, said the need for the NDP to make a concerted effort to connect with diverse communities has been ongoing for years, but it’s most important now in the inner suburbs Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke.

“It’s a big, big, big deal for us,” he said.

“And it’s not something that we’ve done historically. As said as it is to see Tom go, it’s time to begin a new chapter and work with new people, and get people excited about a left-wing message that will reach people in the suburbs.”

Michael Kushnir, an NDP member who worked on Mulcair’s leadership campaign and knows him personally, is particularly said to see his leadership come to a close. But, like the others he said the party has to look internally at what is today and one of the things that needs to change is the level of outreach to diverse communities.

Outside of Toronto, the party will be concentrating on the Leap Manifesto, a policy document that was crafted by two well-known New Democrats in Toronto, Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis that advocates a shift away from fossil fuels.

That’s caused controversy in Albert, and whether or not the federal and provincial New Democratic parties should remain joined is becoming a question in Alberta, said Kushnir.

“I don’t want to say soul searching—but we’re looking inward to try to figure out who we are and how we fit into the political landscape,” he said.

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