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Liberal Convention results/wrapup thoughts

As you might expect, though I was not at the Convention in Ottawa this weekend, I did monitor how events went, and here is my take on things:

Things I liked:

– The election of Mike Crawley as Liberal Party President.  It was a bit of a surprise win, according to some I was reading at the Convention. One statement I read from an observer was that a lot of Liberals expected Sheila Copps to win, but they all voted for Mr. Crawley. Apparently, enough like-minded people did the same thing, and we now have a President who was preaching renewal, and also was promising to do it behind the scenes (that’s the other benefit: Alf Apps is no longer the President).  I hope he follows through on both parts. I look forward to seeing his ideas put into place.

I also hope, from my own biased point of view, that as someone who came out publicly in support of having bloggers of all stripes officially accredited as journalist status, not observers who had to either shell out 1100$ to get there, or else beg a mainstream media outlet to sponsor them, that he will work to get that particular policy reversed the next time the Liberals hold a convention like this. I fully intend to bug him about it as well.

– With regards to the motions, as a Liberal who has long supported electoral reform,  I’m pleased that the delegates voted to endorse having Canada run elections under a system known as Preferential balloting (in simple terms, this is the system where you rank your candidates in order of preference who you’d like to win – lowest candidate gets knocked out until you have a winner from all the choice). I realize my colleagues and acquaintances at Fair Vote Canada will harp that this is not a proportional representation type of voting, but you can only beat a dead horse for so long. Voters in multiple provinces have rejected that model, and I for one am willing to accept incremental change over none, which is what happens when the voter model purists insist that it’s all or nothing on PR. This preferential voting model is also very easy to explain to people (no need to explain about picking politicians from a list, and so on), which is another problem supporters of STV and MMP in Ontario faced. There will be no fearmongering on this model.

I also liked the marijuana legalization vote, but for a different reason then I supporting that (I don’t feel too strongly one way or the other on it). I was pleasantly surprised to see Bob Rae come out and not run from a potentially controversial issue that will provide fodder for the Conservatives barking about Liberals being “soft on crime” yet again (nothing new in that line). He publicly proclaimed the war on drugs in Canada has been a colossal failure, knowing full well the attack dogs at CPC HQ were listening.  Good on him.

– The party voted to have a new class of supporters that would be able to vote for the next Liberal Party of Canada leader. That opens up the party and is good in that it attempts to create some buzz/excitement, and also attempts to get more Canadians involved in the political process. All good things.

That leads to one thing in particular I didn’t like: the rejection by the delegates (it was approved by 56% or so, but needed 2/3 as a constitutional amendment to pass)  of a US based primary system, or at least staggered regional primaries.  Without primaries, it’s a bit unclear to me how you’re going to get these new “supporters” to come out and vote for the leader. We’re surely not expecting them to come to a Convention and vote alongside regular Liberal delegates; are we expecting them to show up at local nomination meetings in individual ridings to help vote for delegates? I’m thinking that will be a bit of wishful thinking as well on our part.  So, that is going to be the next challenge, how to set up a system that allows these “supporters”to come out and vote for the LPC leader.

There were other things here and there that I could write about that might have gone better or we could have left well enough alone (I think we went overboard on all the Peter C. Newman references)   but I think it’s safe to say that the overall weekend appears to be a success for Liberals. Many left saying they were proud to be Liberals again

It’s good to feel proud, but that pride needs to carry over in resuscitating the Liberal party. I recall a lot of people being proud after the 2006 leadership convention, and that didn’t help us win the next election. Results are what we should be ultimately be proud about. We’ll see if this is the first stepping stone to that. The next task at hand is to pick a permanent Liberal leader.

3 comments to Liberal Convention results/wrapup thoughts

  • Fred from BC

    As a side note, the National Citizens Coalition has come out with a youtube video blasting Bob Rae and his time as the Premier of Ont. I wonder if they are scared of Bob and that’s the reason for the video? Let’s hope so!!

    Quite the opposite, in fact. Bob Rae is the guy most Conservatives would *love* to have leading the Liberal Party (the attack ads practically write themselves..;). If the NCC was under Conservative Party control this video would never have been released.

    Kudos, though, for the Liberals supporting a ‘preferential ballot’ voting system. Beats both the one we have now and the ridiculous ‘proportional representation’ idea that has driven so many European countries close to financial ruin…

  • Big Winnie

    I, too, was confused by the new voting process but I’m sure it will be good for the party. I thought Sheila was going to win after her showing at the debate Fri night but will support Mike as long as he follows through.

    As for the legalisation of pot, will the new leader include that in the platform? Who is to say. The war on drugs has been a big failure and if it will help bring in revenue, go for it.

    Overall, I was impressed by the convention and hopefully, the Liberals will gain traction from it.

    As a side note, the National Citizens Coalition has come out with a youtube video blasting Bob Rae and his time as the Premier of Ont. I wonder if they are scared of Bob and that’s the reason for the video? Let’s hope so!!

  • The leadership selection system as now amended in Ottawa is basically the weighted by riding one member one vote system passed in Vancouver, with supporters allowed in.

    The exact mechanics will need to be determined by the national executive, but expect one day/weekend of voting across the country, likely including the option of phone, online and advance mail-in ballots, where members and supporters vote in a single preferential ballot, ranking their choices. The results will be weighted equally by riding.

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