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Thomas Mulcair, leader of the New Democratic Party, on his March, 2013, trip to the U.S.

Peter Foley/Bloomberg

Politics Insider delivers premium analysis and access to Canada's policymakers and politicians. Visit the Politics Insider homepage for insight available only to subscribers.

The New Democratic Party is distancing itself from its socialist roots.

The NDP, which has taken significant steps toward the centre of the political spectrum under both Jack Layton and Thomas Mulcair, is proposing to revise the preamble to its constitution to excise much of the overtly socialist dogma.

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It is a change that Mr. Mulcair, a former provincial Liberal from Quebec, declared a priority after he took over as leader of the New Democrats last year and one that moves the party closer to his vision.

But, while the new preamble eliminates language that might frighten away centrist votes, it is also one that prompted considerable debate at the last NDP policy convention in Halifax in 2009 and again in Vancouver in 2011.

After that meeting, it was agreed that a committee consisting of former leader Alexa McDonough, former Manitoba MP Bill Blaikie, past party president Brian Topp, NDP MP Elaine Michaud and CUPE's Pam Beattie would consult with party members and write a new preamble that better explained what the party stands for.

A copy of the new wording is being sent to New Democrats on Wednesday afternoon by party president Rebecca Blaikie and the proposed changes will be put to a vote at the NDP's upcoming policy convention in Montreal on the second weekend of April.

"This new preamble better reflects the traditions upon which our party was founded, including our founding partner in the labour movement," Ms. Blakie says in a letter to party members. "If someone asked me what the NDP stands for – I would proudly point them towards this document."

As it currently stands, the preamble says: "The production and distribution of goods and services shall be directed to meeting the social and individual needs of people within a sustainable environment and economy and not to the making of profit." Which might not sit so well with those Canadians who prefer capitalism over the alternatives.

So, if the party's new proposed version is accepted, those words will be gone. Instead, the preamble will talk about the need for "sustainable prosperity, and a society that shares its benefits more fairly."

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The new preamble would boast about the pride New Democrats feel in their heritage and their hope for a future inspired by "social democratic and democratic socialist traditions."

It would no longer promote efforts to "modify and control the operations of monopolistic productive and distributive organizations through economic and social planning ... and where necessary, the extension of the principle of social ownership."

There would instead be talk about the need for "a rules based economy, nationally and globally, in which governments have the power to address the limitations of the market."

And while the existing preamble says the party is proud to be associated with other "democratic socialist parties" of the world, the new preamble merely says New Democrats are party of the family of other "progressive democratic political parties." The word socialist has been snipped from that sentence.

The push to change the preamble met considerable resistance in 2011 with some long-time members saying the party was sacrificing its ideals to get votes and others complaining that the distinction between the NDP and the Liberals was being eliminated.

But Mr. Mulcair has responded by saying the traditional messaging of the New Democrats repels non-traditional supporters.

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"We have to refresh our discourse, modernize our approach, and use language that pleases our supporters, but also attracts people who share our vision," Mr. Mulcair said after claiming victory in 2012. Now it's up to party members to decide whether they agree with him.

Gloria Galloway is a parliamentary reporter in The Globe's Ottawa bureau.

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