Inside Politics

Attention political shoppers: Pick a party preamble here!

With the New Democrats poised to to reopen the recently perennial debate over updating the preamble to the party constitution, I thought it might be worth checking out what other federally registered parties have to say about their respective raison d'etres -- whether in preamble form, as is the case for not just the NDP, but the Liberals, as well as several of the so-called 'fringe' parties, or as constitutionally enshrined (and, as such, amendable by the membership), like the Conservatives and the Greens.

To begin with, a quick survey of the constitutional preambles/principles governing parties currently represented in the House of Commons, listed in order of seat count:

Conservative Party of Canada

2. Principles

2.1 The Conservative Party of Canada is founded on and will be guided in its policy formation by the following principles.

2.1.1 A belief in a balance between fiscal accountability, progressive social policy and individual rights and responsibilities.

2.1.2 The goal of building a national coalition of people who share these beliefs and who reflect the regional, cultural and socio-economic diversity of Canada.

2.1.3 The goal of developing this coalition, embracing our differences and respecting our traditions, yet honouring a concept of Canada as the greater sum of strong parts.

2.1.4 The Conservative Party of Canada will operate in a manner accountable and responsive to its members.

2.1.5 A belief in loyalty to a sovereign and united Canada governed in accordance with the Constitution of Canada, the supremacy of democratic parliamentary institutions and the rule of law.

2.1.6 A belief in the equality of all Canadians.

2.1.7 A belief in the freedom of the individual, including freedom of speech, worship and assembly.

2.1.8 A belief in our constitutional monarchy, the institutions of Parliament and the democratic process.

2.1.9 A belief in the federal system of government as the best expression of the diversity of our country, and in the desirability of strong provincial and territorial governments.

2.1.10 A belief that English and French have equality of status, and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the Parliament and Government of Canada.

2.1.11 A belief that the best guarantors of the prosperity and well-being of the People of Canada are:

2.1.11.1 the freedom of individual Canadians to pursue their enlightened and legitimate self-interest within a competitive economy;

2.1.11.2 the freedom of individual Canadians to enjoy the fruits of their labour to the greatest possible extent;

2.1.11.3 the right to own property.

2.1.12 A belief that a responsible government must be fiscally prudent and should be limited to those responsibilities which cannot be discharged reasonably by the individual or others.

2.1.13 A belief that it is the responsibility of individuals to provide for themselves, their families and their dependents, while recognizing that government must respond to those who require assistance and compassion.

2.1.14 A belief that the purpose of Canada as a nation state and its government, guided by reflective and prudent leadership, is to create a climate wherein individual initiative is rewarded, excellence is pursued, security and privacy of the individual is provided and prosperity is guaranteed by a free competitive market economy.

2.1.15 A belief that the quality of the environment is a vital part of our heritage to be protected by each generation for the next.

2.1.16 A belief that Canada should accept its obligations among the nations of the world.

2.1.17 A belief that good and responsible government is attentive to the people it represents and has representatives who at all times conduct themselves in an ethical manner and display integrity, honesty and concern for the best interest of all.

2.1.18 A belief that all Canadians should have reasonable access to quality health care regardless of their ability to pay.

2.1.19 A belief that the greatest potential for achieving social and economic objectives is under a global trading regime that is free and fair.

New Democratic Party of Canada (PDF)

(NOTE: As discussed at length elsewhere, this particular preamble is under active review by the party, and could very well be replaced with a new version later this month.)

The New Democratic Party believes that the social, economic and political progress of Canada can be assured only by the application of democratic socialist principles to government and the administration of public affairs.

The principles of democratic socialism can be defined briefly as:

That the production and distribution of goods and services shall be directed to meeting the social and individual needs of people within a sustainable environment and economy and not to the making of profit;

To modify and control the operations of the monopolistic productive and distributive organizations through economic and social planning. Towards these ends and where necessary the extension of the principle of social ownership;

The New Democratic Party holds firm to the belief that the dignity and freedom of the individual is a basic right that must be maintained and extended; and

The New Democratic Party is proud to be associated with the democratic socialist parties of the world and to share the struggle for peace, international co-operation and the abolition of poverty.

Liberal Party of Canada [PDF]

The Liberal Party of Canada is committed to the view that the dignity of each individual man and woman is the cardinal principle of democratic society and the primary purpose of all political organization and activity in such a society.

The Liberal Party of Canada is dedicated to the principles that have historically sustained the
Party: individual freedom, responsibility and human dignity in the framework of a just society,
and political freedom in the framework of meaningful participation by all persons. The Liberal
Party is bound by the constitution of Canada and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
and is committed to the pursuit of equality of opportunity for all persons, to the enhancement of our unique and diverse cultural community, to the recognition that English and French are the official languages of Canada, and to the preservation of the Canadian identity in a global society.

In accordance with this philosophy, the Liberal Party of Canada subscribes to the fundamental
rights and freedoms of persons under the rule of law and commits itself to the protection of these essential values and their constant adaptation to the changing needs of modern Canadian society.

The Liberal Party of Canada recognizes that human dignity in a democratic system requires that
all citizens have access to full information concerning the policies and leadership of the Party;
the opportunity to participate in open and public assessment of such means, and such
modifications of policies and leadership as they deem desirable to promote the political,
economic, social, cultural and general well-being of Canadians.

To realize this objective, the Liberal Party of Canada strives to provide a flexible and democratic
structure whereby all Canadians can obtain such information, participate in such assessment and militate for such reform through open communications, free dialogue and participatory action both electoral and non-electoral. This Constitution sets forth the institutions, systems and procedures by which the Liberal Party of Canada, in co-operation with its provincial and
territorial associations and electoral district associations, works to implement these ideas on
behalf of all its members

Green Party of Canada

Article 3 Basis of Unity

3.1

To enhance the effectiveness of the Global Green Movement in creating a Green Society by providing an evolving social and political structure that embraces and supports Green Values and offers itself as a voice for the broader Green Movement.

3.2

To elevate and nurture caring and compassionate values among all peoples and all cultures which will provide the basis for sustaining, just, democratic, peaceful and diverse communities.

3.3

To commit ourselves, and encourage everyone, to promote enhanced and socially engaged caring and compassionate values through research, dialogue, and example, as well as through increasing awareness of our own capacities to be caring and compassionate for others, ourselves, and life's rich diversity.

Note: The Bloc Quebecois constitution, alas, does not appear to be available online, so I wasn't able to include any preamble therein in this list. If someone can point me to a copy -- ideally, but not necessarily, in English -- I'd be happy to add an update.

UPDATE: Courtesy of helpful twitterversian @mmecorrie, here's the Bloc Quebecois' 2000 Statement of Principles, which appears to be available in French only. 

As for the seemingly indefatigable Also Rans --- the federally registered parties that regularly field a full slate of candidates, yet have failed thus far to elect a single one --- just five of those listed on the Elections Canada website have posted their constitutions online, and of the five, only three include preambles or official statements of principle:

Canadian Action Party

The Canadian Action Party is, above all, a pro-Canadian party dedicated to the principle that Canada can best serve its citizens and the world by re-claiming and maintaining its political and economic sovereignty as an independent country. It is opposed to the ascendancy of "corporate rule" and those aspects of unrestricted global investment that promote colonization of the world's smaller powers and in Canada's case its absorption by the United States of America.

In this context the Canadian Action Party is committed to the view that human dignity is the underlying principle of a democratic society and that the purpose of political organization is to guarantee equal opportunity in order to give full expression to that dignity.

In accordance with this philosophy, the Canadian Action Party subscribes to the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons and equality under the law and commits itself to the protection of these essential values and their constant adaptation to the needs of a modern society.

The Canadian Action Party recognizes that human dignity, and a democratic system requires that all citizens have access to full information regarding the policies and leadership of the state; and that such information should not be unreasonably denied. Citizens should be provided full opportunity to participate in open and public assessment of public policies and their impact as they deem desirable to promote the political, economic, social, cultural and general well-being of Canadians.

To realize this objective, the Canadian Action Party will strive to provide a flexible and democratic structure under which all Canadians can obtain such information, participate in open assessment and make their views known through open communication and political actions both electoral and non-electoral.

The Canadian Action Party recognizes the responsibility of the state to provide certain essential services for its citizens. To assist in this regard the Canadian Action Party will reform the banking system and use the Bank of Canada creatively in order to provide the fiscal flexibility essential to this end.

This Constitution sets forth the systems and procedures by which the Canadian Action Party will work to implement these ideas on behalf of its members and all Canadians

Communist Party of Canada

The Communist Party of Canada is the Marxist-Leninist party of the working class dedicated to the cause of socialism. It is a voluntary organization of like-minded people which strives to unite in its ranks the most politically advanced and active members of the working class and of other sections of the people exploited by monopoly who are prepared to work for the achievement of working class state power and the building of a socialist Canada. The Communist Party of Canada has no interests separate and apart from those of the working class from which it springs. Support and work for the Party program is the basis of membership in the Party.

The multi-national character of our country finds expression in the Communist Party, and is reflected in the Communist Party of Quebec which is a distinct entity, within the Communist Party of Canada, having complete control of its own policies and structures in Quebec.

The organizational principles of the Communist Party are determined by its political aims. To guide the working class to the achievement of these aims, and to lead the people's struggle, the Party must be founded on firm ideological, political and organizational unity, and on the continuous organized activity of its members in close contact with the working people, knowing their views and needs, and able to explain Party policy.

Democratic centralism is the organizational principle which ensures this. Democratic centralism combines the maximum of democratic discussion and participation of the membership in Party life, with the self-imposed obligation to carry out majority decisions and execution of these decisions by an elected centralized leadership capable of leading the entire Party. It includes full discussion by the entire membership of the policies necessary to advance the aims of the Party's program. Decisions as to what these policies must be are made by majority vote which are then binding on all members. This enables the Party to act as a united whole in all conditions of the struggle. Unity derives from agreement on the socialist program of the Party and the recognition that while differences may arise as to how best to advance the aims of the program under changing circumstances, there must be unity of action in executing decisions once they are made by majority vote. Thus the Party is a united, militant organization in which factional or splitting activities are impermissible. All Party members must carry out Party decisions, the minority must abide by majority decisions, and lower organizations must carry out decisions of higher organizations.

The principles of democratic centralism are binding on all Communists; the members of the Communist Party of Quebec, as members of the Communist Party of Canada, participate fully, on the basis of equality, in its life and activities, in its Conventions, Central Committee and leadership, take part in the collective formulation of policy and share in the common responsibility for action in the interests of the working class of Canada. All Party committees are elected. Elected committees are bound by Party policies as decided by conventions. They have the right to make decisions on the basis of these policies, and all Party members and lower Party committees are obliged to carry them out. All Party committees must report regularly on their work to the Party organization which elected them and must abide by the principle of collective leadership coupled with individual responsibility.

The basic organization of the Communist Party is the Party Club. It should educate, encourage and in all ways develop each Party member to become an active worker for the Party's program and policies among their fellow workers.

Principled criticism and self-criticism carried on in a comradely and objective manner strengthens the solidarity and unity of the Party and enables it to improve its ties with the people. Any tendency to suppress or evade principled criticism is detrimental to the Party and must be constantly opposed.

In its consistent defence of the real interests of Canada, the Communist Party is guided by the world outlook of Marxism-Leninism. The Communist Party of Canada upholds the time-honoured and tested principle of working-class internationalism. It develops fraternal ties with Communist and Workers' Parties of other countries for the victory of the common aims of the working class.

The Communist Party, incidentally, is also the only one with an initiation pledge:

I, ........................., accept as my own the aim of the Communist Party to work unceasingly for the establishment of a socialist society in Canada, in which the principal means of producing and distributing wealth will be the common property of society as a whole, and where exploitation, want, poverty and insecurity will be ended forever.

In furtherance of this noble aim, I accept and will work to the best of my ability to carry out the program and policies of the Communist Party of Canada as determined by the constitution and Convention.

I will be active in my Club, pay my dues regularly and support the Party financially.

I will read, support and spread the Party's press and literature and work at all times to build the Party.

UPDATE: Contrary to what I wrote in my original post, the Pirate Party of Canada constitution is indeed online, and includes the following as Article II: Object:

The principles of the Party are:

  1. That intellectual property law needs to properly balance the needs of innovators with those of users to ensure maximum cultural and intellectual growth.
  2. That government must be transparent and accountable at all levels and that government information should be made available to all citizens where it would not compromise individuals' rights.
  3. That Canadians have a fundamental right to privacy and that the laws should both require that right to be respected and respect that right themselves; and
  4. That telecommunications, including the Internet and postal mail, are of vital importance for maintaining cultural and economic prosperity; and that access to telecommunications on equitable terms, without censorship or interference is a human right.

The object of the Party is to engage with the people of Canada and use the democratic process to reform the laws of Canada to uphold the principles of the Party and to ensure that our nation's laws can adapt to new technologies.

Progressive Canadian Party:

2. AIMS

2.1 As Progressive Canadians, we believe in a balance between fiscal accountability, progressive social policy and individual rights and responsibilities.

2.2 The Progressive Canadian Party exists to:

2.2.1 Build a national coalition of people who share these beliefs and who reflect the regional, cultural and socio-economic diversity ;

2.2.2 Develop this coalition, embracing our differences and respecting our traditions, yet honouring a concept of Canada as the greater sum of strong parts; and

2.2.3 Provide an organizational framework within which Members of the Progressive Canadian Party can effect change, gather public support for its policies and influence government policy through the nomination of Progressive Canadian candidates in every constituency and the election of Progressive Canadian Members of Parliament, for the betterment of Canada.

2.3 The Party will operate in a manner accountable and responsive to its Members.

3. PRINCIPLES

3.1 The principles of the Progressive Canadian Party are:

3.1.1 A belief in loyalty to a sovereign and united Canada governed in accordance with the Constitution of Canada, the supremacy of democratic parliamentary institutions and the rule of law;

3.1.2 A belief in the equality of all Canadians;

3.1.3 A belief in the freedoms of the individual, including freedom of speech, worship and assembly;

3.1.4 A belief in our constitutional monarchy, the institutions of Parliament and the democratic process;

3.1.5 A belief in the federal system of government as the best expression of the diversity of our country, and in the desirability of strong provincial and territorial governments;

3.1.6 A belief that the best guarantors of the prosperity and well-being of the people of Canada are:

3.1.6.1 the freedom of individual Canadians to pursue their enlightened and legitimate self-interest within a competitive economy;

3.1.6.2 the freedom of individual Canadians to enjoy the fruits of their labour to the greatest possible extent; and

3.1.6.3 the right to own property.

3.1.7 A belief that a responsible government must be fiscally prudent and should be limited to those responsibilities which cannot be discharged reasonably by the individual or others;

3.1.8 A belief that it is the responsibility of individuals to provide for themselves, their families and their dependents, while recognizing that government must respond to those who require assistance and compassion;

3.1.9 A belief that the purpose of Canada as a nation state and its government, guided by reflective and prudent leadership, is to create a climate wherein individual initiative is rewarded, excellence is pursued, security and privacy of the individual is provided and prosperity is from a free competitive market economy;

3.1.10 A belief that the quality of the environment is a vital part of our heritage to be protected by each generation for the next;

3.1.11 A belief that Canada should accept its obligations among the nations of the world; and

3.1.12 A belief that good and responsible government is attentive to the people it represents and has representatives who at all times conduct themselves in an ethical manner and display integrity, honesty and concern for the best interest of all.

3.2 The leadership of the Party is accountable to its Members for ensuring that policies espoused by the Party are guided by these principles.

Parties with no preamble in constitution:

Libertarian Party of Canada

United Party of Canada

Parties with no posted party constitution:

Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada

Christian Heritage Party of Canada

Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) (Note: 'Program' available here.)

First People National Party of Canada

Marijuana Party of Canada

Online Party of Canada

Rhinoceros Party of Canada

Western Block Party

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