Federal New Democrats have kept the door open for merger talks with the federal Liberals.
A resolution calling for rejection of any merger talk was batted down by delegates at the party's convention on Sunday morning.
The proposal tapped a bitter vein in the party as it readjusts to life as the official opposition, and support was so close the party had to hold a standing vote.
"We don't need these so-called friends," said one delegate. "Now they want us to become the Liberal party. . . (and) abandon the socialist principles we stand for."
But Peter Stoffer, the NDP MP for Sackville-Eastern Shore, warned that New Democrats would harm their future by spurning the Liberals. The party now has the door open for talks to solidify the centre-right vote.
"We need Liberals in the future to develop the New Democratic Party of the future," he said. "To close the door would be a tactical serious mistake ... We don't get them to vote for us by saying 'we refuse to have talks with you'."
Another delegate echoed his sentiment: "Please don't lock the door on what could be potential for growth and development."
The defeated resolution said the NDP should "reject any proposals to merge with the Liberal party." Instead, the NDP should "extend a warm welcome to all former Liberal supporters who wish to join the genuine anti-Conservative opposition - the NDP."
The May 2 election gave the NDP official opposition status with 103 seats, relegating the Liberals to 34 seats and third-party status.
One delegate said he was happy that Stephan Dion, the former federal Liberal leader, was present at the convention as an observer to hear the opposition to any talk of a merger. "We are going to fight against the Liberals and we are going to beat them," he said to applause.