Monday, October 27, 2008

Petition to Avoid a Delegate Convention

From the Kitchener-Waterloo Riding Association:

Whereas in a modern democracy every Liberal Party member in good standing must have a direct vote in the selection of the leader and recognizing that the new constitution allows the national executive to make any bylaw in accordance with the procedures set out in section 26 to regulate the procedures of the leadership vote, such as voting procedures; and recognizing that a traditional Leadership convention will deplete our already strained resources and cash, Therefore, We the undersigned, urge our National Executive and Caucus to develop a one member, one vote system for the upcoming Leadership convention that MAY exclude a national convention and includes a process that:

1. Promotes and facilitates a grass-roots selection of the next leader by
allowing each member to vote directly for a leadership candidate (that is, one member = one vote)

and, in addition, that the National Executive seriously consider implementing the following:

2. A membership cutoff date that prevents "instant-liberal" abuse of the
leadership selection process;
3. DRAMATICALLY limiting spending by candidates;
4. Regional leadership debates;
5. A direct vote in a second round of balloting to choose between two
"finalist" leadership candidates.

WHAT TO DO: go to


Kyle G. Olsen said...

Doesn't really work, since that would require a biennial convention anyways, to make the changes.

Anonymous said...

There is no way the Nat. Executive can unilaterally get rid of the delegated convention. They only have control over the procedures used during the delegated convention.


Yappa said...

Hi Kyle -

I'm no expert, but the first sentence contradicts you: "recognizing that the new constitution allows the national executive to make any bylaw in accordance with the procedures set out in section 26 to regulate the procedures of the leadership vote, such as voting procedures..."

Yappa said...

Hi Scott -

Maybe the constitution can be re-interpreted to allow it?

Liberal Member said...

Hey everyone. Who CARES whether you think the executive can do it or not? If you want this convention to be a direct vote rather than a delegate system, sign the petition. If enough people sign, maybe something can be done. If nobody signs it will be less likely we can change the system.

Anonymous said...

No. Yes I know it's a Constitution and it is very legalistic. But Sec. 1 of Chapter 26 of the constitution clearly states any bylaw (from the Nat. Exec) must still be in accordance with the Constitution, and to make a bylaw for anything but a delegated convention would indeed go against the constitution.

Also sec. 6 of Chap. 27 offers a complete concrete rejection of any attempt to change the convention. It reads:

"If a bylaw, an amendment or a repeal is rejected by the Council of Presidents or the Party, no subsequent resolution of the National Executive to make, amend or repeal a bylaw having substantially the same purpose or effect is effective until it is confirmed or amended by the Party."

Considering such an amendment of changing the system was voted on in 2006 and rejected, it cannot ever take effect until the Party votes on it.

This petition, though has the right idea, cannot have any effect.


Yappa said...

I asked Rich Clausi, one of the writers of the petition, about your concerns, and he responded with the following:

I imagine we can always find reasons NOT to make tough decisions. While a convention can generate excitement, it may be exciting only for those who attend on site. The actual election voting decisions are made in the local polls in each riding so it would seem reasonable to try to generate profile and excitement in a local event. It would seem to me that the status quo is not acceptable.

That said, it is clear that we are wanting to blindly subscribe to “rules”… even if they take us blindly over a cliff. But do these rules lock us into a death march that we cannot escape? I really don’t think so!

May I suggest that our constitution leaves the form and location of the convention open to interpretation. It may not be necessary for all attendees/delegates to be in the same hall, or, indeed, in the same city. With video-conferencing and video links, reports and even voting can be de-centralized. The Council of Presidents and the National Executive DO have complete control, while being in compliance with the stated details of the constitution.

Chapter 16 section 61 (3) defines the type of conventions. And it is clear that the party may hold an extraordinary convention to deal with issues that are extraordinary—the issue could be cancellation of the leadership convention itself, which by definition is NOT a biennial. This detail could also be dealt with by the Council of Presidents. The Council is required to meet once each calendar year, and, as you may know, there is some discussion around the necessity and mechanics of doing it this year. Perhaps this is the issue the council needs to meet over prior to year-end.

I can appreciate the “respect” that is being espoused for the constitution; but, no doubt, there were rules against running on the decks of the Titanic. But if these days are not extraordinary, what is? We need to be a bit more creative.

Let me stress that I do not promote blatant breaking of rules; however, it is worth mentioning that in the past our executive has cancelled the biennial in order to avoid a Chretien leadership review vote. And the party survived the crisis.

Council of Presidents may not meet this calendar year - a contravention, but are we worried? Not really, judging by the tone of last night’s “president’s” teleconference call.

A constitution is a living, breathing and dynamic document that should be interpreted in a way that facilitates problem-solving. Here are some ideas...
Section 62 talks about who has rights to be a delegate. One might interpret this as a basis set. But does this restrict who else can be granted the right; for example, via a decision by the National Executive or Council of Presidents.

There are some interesting items here too:

64 (3) The National Executive may call an extraordinary convention of the party at any time. Obviously, this can be “distributed” site - there is no requirement stating that the convention must be under one roof, or even at the same place.

67 (1) The national executive may make any bylaw... to regulate the procedures of delegate selection. Could we define ALL members as delegates and conduct all votes at the local level?

We CAN be creative and still stay within the WORDS and spirit of the constitution.

If the will is there, then there is a way; that is, if we really want to rebuild this Liberal Party of ours. Otherwise, we are doomed.