NDP beats back attempts at ‘kudatah’ infiltration

An attempt by opponents of the Notley government to take over the NDP by buying party memberships — dubbed the “kudatah” on social media — attracted a significant response, a party official acknowledged at the NDP’s weekend convention.

Mimi Williams, president of the NDP’s Whitecourt-Ste. Anne constituency association, said in an interview Sunday the party received and rejected more than 1,000 memberships it believes were associated with anti-NDP activists.

Williams had been assigned by the party to vet membership applications after George Clark, organizer of the Canadans First petition campaign, called in February for opponents of the government to purchase NDP memberships in a bid to force changes in party policy.

She said she examined the social media feeds and political donation history of potential members as she went through applications.

“If you don’t share the principles of our party and the aims of our party, then you shouldn’t want to join our party,” said Williams.

“We have the right to reject and accept memberships. It makes no sense to accept memberships of people that are there to destroy you, and we weren’t going to do it and we didn’t.”

NDP rules say people who buy memberships — which can cost as little as $1 — can’t be members of another party and have to agree they support the principles and constitution of the NDP.

Clark had launched petitions calling for plebiscites on the NDP’s farm worker safety legislation and carbon tax that have attracted significant support. Before unveiling his plan to buy NDP memberships, he had suggested he would unveil a legal, democratic way to force Notley from office if she refused to hold the votes.

Clark’s movement has been mocked on social media as the “kudatah,” based on the misspelling of coup d’etat online by an opponent of the NDP.

Clark could not be reached for comment Sunday but said in February that joining the NDP would allow insurgent members to set policy and give leverage over MLAs who could face nomination battles. 

He also wanted new NDP members to join the party so they could attend the party convention, though he denied an intention to unseat Premier Rachel Notley in the leadership review vote.

In Saturday’s vote, Notley received 97.8 per cent support from the convention, which had more than 850 committed delegates.

The Canadans First Twitter account posted Saturday that it was “very convenient of them to improperly reject more memberships than they have as convention attendees.”

Williams said that even if the memberships associated with Clark had gone through, those new members would not have been in place at the convention because delegates must be selected through their constituency associations.

“This plan is cockamamie to start with,” she said.

However, Williams said the kudatah efforts could have been a threat to NDP constituency associations in rural ridings, such as her own, where the NDP is still building up local organizations.

Under the NDP constitution, applicants for a membership who are rejected by the provincial secretary can appeal at the next meeting of the provincial council. Clark has complained on his Facebook page that no meeting of the council was held before the convention, but Williams said that was based on the existing schedule and had nothing to do with the takeover attempt.

In response to the recent events, NDP members on Saturday passed a change to their rules requiring that rejected memberships be appealed to the party president within 14 days.

However, another related proposal — to raise the party’s annual membership fee to $30 — was voted down by New Democrats.



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