McDonough coasts to win in confidence vote

McDonough wins just over 84 per cent of the vote in a leadership review at the NDP's national convention in Winnipeg

Federal New Democrats pledged to renew their party on the weekend, while simultaneously voting against changing their name, their leader or their spot in Canada's political spectrum.

In results announced at the NDP's national convention Sunday afternoon, Alexa McDonough received 84.3 per cent of the vote in a leadership challenge brought by a disgruntled member hoping to push the party further left.

Of 765 votes cast, 645 were cast for the leader. The others went to Marcel Hatch, co-chair of the NDP's socialist caucus who forced the review by declaring his candidacy.

"I'm satisfied with 80 per cent of the vote," she told reporters. "In fact, I'm more than satisfied. I didn't expect it to be nearly that high."

Some pundits had predicted there would be hundreds of spoiled ballots as part of a protest by New Democrats unhappy with her leadership. But only a few dozen were recorded. Critics, however, pointed out that fewer than 75 per cent of the delegates at the convention bothered to take part in the vote.

In her acceptance speech, McDonough urged solidarity among members as the party renews itself.

"Our renewal campaign has generated a great deal of interest. It's generated energy and enthusiasm. It's generated broad participation. But perhaps most important of all, it's generated a renewed confidence in ourselves and a renewed confidence in our party," she said.

The vote of confidence in the leader follows a decision on Saturday not to replace the party altogether.

In a much closer vote 684 to 401 delegates to the party's biennial convention rejected a bid to dismantle the party and form a new coalition of left-wing groups.

Speaking to reporters Sunday, McDonough shrugged off the results of that vote, showing almost 40 per cent of the voting delegates were in favour of building a new party.

"I think it's very important that people know that 100 per cent of the delegates at this convention voted for change," she said, referring to the renewal campaign.

McDonough said she thinks those who voted for the New Politics Initiative wanted to reach out beyond the NDP's traditional base of support.

"But I also think that the overwhelming majority of delegates felt that the NPI formula as it was offered was much more likely to shrink the base of the party," she said.