As those politically inclined know, the Liberal Party is holding a convention in Ottawa this weekend, where delegates will be voting to elect different candidates to various party positions, and also to vote on several different policy resolutions. One of those is to adopt a US primary-style system to open up a Liberal leadership vote to potentially hundreds of thousands of Canadians, rather then the 1000 or so delegates that have traditionally done it.
I’ve not had a strong opinion really one way or the other on this one, though it would serve the purpose of opening up the voting system to more Canadians. I’ve read a column by the Star’s Bob Hepburn, arguing for the Liberals to adopt this system, that has me “leaning” towards thinking it might not be a bad idea:
Despite their many flaws and bitterly fought battles, U.S. primaries are fabulous exercises in democracy, sparking widespread voter excitement, massive news coverage and generally producing a presidential candidate “acceptable” to most party supporters. Over the past two decades, dozens of states have implemented open primaries, mainly to build the parties from the grassroots. Voters take the primaries seriously, with huge turnouts…
…Primaries aren’t perfect, but are more democratic than anything now used by Canadian parties. They get millions of voters involved; they test the abilities and intelligence of candidates; they allow challengers time to recover from an early setback; they remove the final say of who will lead the party from the hands of a small group of party insiders and loyalists.
The last argument is the most appealing to me: anything that opens up the voting system like this and removes “inside politics” of choosing a leader is nothing but a good thing. We’ve read in the news the more controversial policy resolutions (ie legalizing marijuana, removing the Queen as head of state), but this one seems to me to be one of the more inportant indicators about whether the Liberal Party wants to do something bold to regain its way.