A left wing rump in the NDP that rose to prominence in the late 1960s and, after a flash of glory, was expunged by the Party.
The Waffle was founded in the heady period of increasing radical militancy and youth culture of the late sixties. It was comprised of academics and activists (its most prominent spokespeople were professors Mel Watkins and the brothers James and Robert Laxer) concerned that the NDP was straying from socialist roots, particularly in the areas of social justice and the economy. The group published a “Manifesto for an Independent and Socialist Canada” and confronted the Party establishment in internal elections.
The NDP’s trade union establishment and its advocates of greater electoral pragmatism fought pitched battles with the Waffle insurgents, culminating in the 1971 federal leadership convention victory of David Lewis over James Laxer.
The Waffle entered NDP lore as either the moment when the NDP cast off its dated and electorally-limiting ideological straight jacket or the moment it turned its back on principles, depending on one’s point of view.
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