Friday, June 17, 2011

Ed Broadbent announces formation of new social democratic institute

By Colin Horgman
June 17, 2011

Step aside, Preston Manning. Ed Broadbent is back.

The former New Democrat leader announced the formation of a new social democratic institute ahead of the official kickoff to the party’s 50th anniversary convention on Friday.

Broadbent, who led the NDP from 1979 to 1989, told reporters that the institute will be a way to reach out to people for more ideas and bring practicality and idealism together. With the NDP now sitting as the official opposition in a majority Parliament, Broadbent said it is time to develop long-range ideas for the future.

He hopes to have the institute up and running by the fall. It will operate as an NGO, raising funds from organizations but initially drawing start-up money from the NDP.

On its face, the Broadbent Institute appears to be the social democratic answer to the Manning Institute, founded by former Reform leader, Preston Manning.

In a release, the institute is described as one that will contribute to the “development of social democracy through education, training and developing ideas that have practical applications for those who govern.”

However, asked whether, like the Manning Institute does for the Conservative Party, the new Broadbent Institute would train staff for the NDP, Broadbent dodged.

“We can develop certain ideas, certain policies for the future,” that he hopes the party will agree with, he said.

“It’s the party that has to decide – not me, not the institution,” he said, noting that he felt the two organizations would work in cooperation.

Broadbent said his institute will focus on how Canada can retain the benefits of a market economy while solving the growing social and economic equality in the country.

On his way out of the press conference Friday afternoon, a reporter asked Broadbent for his thoughts on this weekend’s vote on changes to the party’s constitutional preamble that would eliminate the word “socialism” from the text.

“I think there are some questions that I will discreetly withdraw from,” Broadbent replied.

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