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Liberal riding and commission presidents should be accountable to their riding members over their votes.

The Liberals have a Convention in May, as you may know. Some are a bit concerned about whether anything of actual substance beyond formally ratifying Ignatieff as the leader is going to happen – particularly with regards to discussing/debating policy. That’s happening even with Liberals who I know were actual Ignatieff supporters at the 2006 Liberal Convention.

Today, Jeff has a pretty good blogpost up about his concerns about what will actually be happening at this year’s convention. The key paragraph for me is this one:

…right now any party member can vote for policy prioritization through En Famille. You have until tonight at midnight, although you wouldn’t know unless you happened to check the site. Thing is though, the vote is completely non-binding. The riding presidents and commission presidents still have the REAL vote, the only vote that counts. They’ll be informed of the En Famille results before they vote but let’s be serious; they’re going to vote however they want to vote. Is this going to be the Liberal version of grassroots empowerment? We give the membership an online forum where they can talk policy until they’re blue in the face and feel like they’re doing something, while at the same time we restrict the real decision-making power to an even narrower group of elites then held it before? That’s a step backward, not a step forward. The gap between the rhetorical promise and the actual implementation is so wide you could drive a truck through it.

Here’s a question I have for the LPC executive: Will there be a listing of how each riding President and Commission President voted on the En Famille resolutions, and whether they agreed with them, or voted against them? Because, if they’re the ones who have the “real” power, then they should be accountable to their individual riding members on how they voted. Therefore, I’d hope the riding members whose vote has been consulted on by En Famille would also be able to find out rather easily how each of their individual riding and commission presidents voted, and be able to question them on their voting decision, and why they voted the way they did.

UPDATE @ 4:07 pm: Jeff makes a good point in comments:

I don’t know if the party could or would compel them to make their votes public, although each could choose to do so themselves of course. The success of this thing of course relies on the presidents taking it seriously and actually actively consulting, and reflecting their constituencies. If they do, then it will be a good thing. And some undoubtedly will. But not all, and I’d rather not leave it up to them. What we can do is compare the results of the En Famille vote with the vote of the elites, and see just how close the two are.

UPDATE 2 @ 11:11 pm: Some more good points from Dan Arnold about this situation and some suggestions from him at his Calgary Grit blog (which I keep wondering when its going to get called “ex-Calgary Grit” but that’s a different blogpost ).

6 comments to Liberal riding and commission presidents should be accountable to their riding members over their votes.

  • kwittet

    Reading all of the above makes me wonder…is this really any different that what Scott and other die-hard liberal supporters have been slamming Harper about? I know you are slamming your own party to a certain degree…but doesnt it now make sense what I have been saying for a while now that all the parties need to be purged of these lying assholes. I honestly believe that some factory worker with the right support staff and the right information could make better decisions than the bunch of losers running and elected in every party right now.

  • Really Chrystal, I think you owe The Bard an apology, as surely he could write much better drama. This has really been more of a melodrama, or perhaps a second-rate dramedy.

    And an objective look at post-election polling shows only one party trending positively: The Liberals. The Conservatives are down, and the NDP is cratering. And frankly, steadily built support is more real and lasting than event-induced bounces. Look at the regional numbers. Were an election held today, better than 50/50 it’s a Liberal minority.

  • Deb,

    You obviously understand democratic principles and the concept of “party” and have always acted accordingly. The LPC obviously doesn’t and therefore also acts, er, accordingly.

  • Scott;

    Thanks for pointing out the incongruity between a desire for grassroots involvement and the lack of follow-through on the part of convention organization.

    My personal experience locally was that I was laughed at by the current executive members for taking quite seriously my responsibility to other riding members when I attended the convention in ’06. Prior to putting my name forth as a delegate for Super Saturday, I called about 60 members to find out where their wishes lie.

    Once elected and prior to leaving for the convention, I actually called nearly a 100 members to get a feel for how they wanted me to represent them on the second, third or fourth ballots AND on the policy issues that were to arise.

    Anyone who takes the responsibility of proper representation as a delegate seriously is considered laughable in this party. Other delegates merely got together at a local pub one night to strategize amongst themselves. And possibly to train for the convention elbow-bending.

    At the ’06 convention, only about 350-400 delegates (of 5400) actually attended the policy segments except when it came to vote on the one member-one vote issue. Let me tell you what happened. Someone stood at the door until the vote was to be called. Then ushered in the several hundred delegates who had been schmoozing in the hall so that they could vote down the measure.

    Yup, that’s real grass roots for you. If the doors had been locked the measure would have passed by the people in the room who cared enough to sit through all the policy debates.

    Although I have gone through the motions on En Famille. I’m getting a little sick of going through the motions of being a Liberal. No hope for this convention, in my opinion, to produce anything that will shake this country out of its disaffection for Liberals in government. The Liberal Party discourages delegates who take representation seriously and therefore, I am left to believe that it doesn’t want or value my opinion.

  • The convention, together with the leadership and backroom goings-on, are quickly becoming a farce worthy of a new Shakespeare play and they’re all too familiar to those who witnessed the LPC’s public loss of favour over the past few years.

    Some LPC members get overjoyed and inflate tiny numbers whenever they detect a “bounce” in poll numbers for their Glorious Leader. But His Igginess has not yet achieved even the post-convention bounce of Dion. Will he, post convention09? With all the things NOT going to happen at the “convention,” (why the hell call it that even?), then it’s unlikely.

  • I don’t know if the party could or would compel them to make their votes public, although each could choose to do so themselves of course.

    The success of this thing of course relies on the presidents taking it seriously and actually actively consulting, and reflecting their constituencies. If they do, then it will be a good thing. And some undoubtedly will. But not all, and I’d rather not leave it up to them.

    What we can do is compare the results of the En Famille vote with the vote of the elites, and see just how close the two are.

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