It will be an interesting Saturday this Saturday.
This weekend is a very busy and likely decisive weekend for two campaigns I've been involved in over the past while.
In one case, the immediate campaign has been shorter in duration and it will come to its conclusion this weekend as Canada's New Democrats select a leader to replace the late Jack Layton who, Moses-like, led his party to the brink of power last May before succumbing to cancer last August. Two of the original nine candidates have withdrawn from the race - although Romeo Saganash's withdrawal was too late to have his name removed from the ballot. Many New Democrats have already voted in the preferential advance vote, while a likely smaller number will vote this Saturday, ballot by ballot and live, whether at the convention in Toronto or in the comfort of their own homes.
Anyone who has been paying attention will know that I am supporting Niki Ashton, the MP for Churchill constituency in Manitoba. As the youngest candidate in the race (and having the arguable disadvantage of probably looking even younger), Niki has faced some criticism based strictly on her age. Of course, if her age is her greatest weakness, then the simple passage of time will overcome it, which is better than can be said for some other candidates.
Anyone who claims to have a clear picture on how the convention will play out is almost certainly blowing smoke, and read-in media frames have distorted the race significantly in some respects. Live voting for the first ballot opens after the candidate showcases on Friday, with the first ballot results announced Saturday morning. I expect we will know the result by the early afternoon.
The other contest - the interminable marathon, it seems - is another round of voting on the Anglican Covenant in the diocesan synods of the Church of England. I'm one of the original cadre of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition, and when we started organizing ourselves around 18 months ago, it seemed a bit of windmill-tilting quixoticism - an ecclesio-political juggernaut endorsed by the great and the good of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion Office was not going to be stopped by the flailing machinations of a band of bloggers.
Early on, we decided that our initial beachhead had to be the Church of England. After all, an Anglican Covenant without the Church of England was too bizarre even for traditional Anglican fudge. We lost an initial attempt when General Synod voted to refer to Covenant to the dioceses for approval. And we ran into no small opposition when Anglican Communion Office and Church of England bureaucrats abused their positions to ensure that only pro-Covenant propaganda was provided for background.
Yet in the small scale skirmishing of the synods, we have found our feet. In order to return to General Synod for the next step in the approval process, the Covenant needs to be ratified by the clergy and laity (voting separately) in 23 of the Church of England's 44 dioceses. With 17 dioceses yet to vote, the "No" side is two dioceses short of scuttling the Covenant. This Saturday, another six dioceses will vote. While no one from the Coalition is interested in public prognostication, it is entirely possible that by noon Saturday (where I am), the Covenant will be a dead letter in the Church of England.
That wouldn't be an end of it, of course. There will still be pressure - though perhaps less - for other Provinces of the Communion to adopt the Covenant. The next round of tactical objectives will be to defeat the Covenant over the next six months in the Episcopal Church (USA and other places), the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Australia and the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. But a defeat of the Covenant in the Church of England drastically alters the playing field.
It'll be a busy Saturday for Canada's New Democrats and for the No Anglican Covenant Coalition - and doubly busy for me.
And I wouldn't have it any other way.