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Concerns about Liberal Party hierarchy leaning on delegates over constitution.

I received this from a local Liberal Party delegate who is going to Winnipeg next week who is struggling over  over the proposed changes to the Liberal Party Constitution and how to vote on it. Most of the discussion on the Constitution has been with regards to the membership being opened up to non-Liberal Party members, but this delegate’s concerns are more to do with the apparent implicit and subtle pressure being brought to on delegates to vote in favor of this and trying to make this a fait accompli:

I’m mostly disappointed by the process…. People are getting phone calls asking how they are voting…. I feel manipulated and I don’t like it. It doesn’t seem transparent or consultative at all. I know a lot of people who are concerned. I am doing a fair bit of reading, asking lots of questions and discussing with multiple people. I will decide in Winnipeg but my gut is leaning towards no. Unfortunately. I was excited about the prospect of a new constitution when they announced it but surprised that it had already been written and was to be voted on with no amendments possible, and no by-laws written yet.

..I don’t like conspiracy theories and I prefer to believe that people have integrity and are doing this for the good of the party but I am struggling. It’s not a nice feeling.

For the record, I still am on the fence on the proposed constitutional amendments.. but I don’t like hearing that delegates may be cast as not team players or not for the Liberal Party if they oppose this.  I’m also a tad concerned that measures as presented are going to be an apparent up or down vote, with no chance for amendments.   I sincerely hope that delegates who are opposed or even just unsure about these amendments are not intimidated into not publicly challenging or questioning the Party brass on this important issue.  The party hierarchy and yes, Justin Trudeau can be wrong on things – (i.e Eve Adams).

Historically, political bloggers have been known as being more partisan and loyal to the political party of their choice then regular voters. but they also are sometimes known for poking their own political party.. if they feel they need to be poked. This is one case where I feel the LPC needs a gentle but persistent poking. Do not bludgeon the delegates into voting for these proposed changes.. or make them feel as if they’re disloyal for not taking everything at face value, or because they feel there are flaws that could be improved.

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3 comments to Concerns about Liberal Party hierarchy leaning on delegates over constitution.

  • Scott

    I would also take exception with your opening statement, “Most of the discussion on the Constitution has been with regards to the membership being opened up to non-Liberal Party members,”. This has been the discussion which the media have wanted to focus upon, however, it has not been the primary discussion of among many members of the party. A few days after the National Board released the document to the members which had already been shared with the media, I began a discussion email group for Liberal Members across the country. This group, entitled Liberal Members Matter has created a forum where members and delegates of all levels can share opinions and concerns. There has been opinions from both sides shared and discussed as should happen in a democracy.

    The most common complaint at every level has been that this entire document and process has been effected without the involvement or voice of the grassroots members. I am the President for Kingston and the Islands, an EDA which has enjoyed 28 consecutive years of Liberal representation, without the need for a Constitutional overhaul. Before our 28 years of Liberal representation we had 16 years of Conservative so it’s not that we are “natural” Liberals, in fact we have had a fairly even split of the two, we like to think that the EDA has just being doing things correctly.

    Our membership called for a Special General Meeting to discuss this issue. In Kingston and the Islands the membership are very passionate and very involved. They passed motions opposing this omnibus constitution due to the lack of consultation and called on the Party Leadership to make the ballot secret, both motions called for their submission to the President of the Liberal Party of Canada, both were submitted, without reply or response.

    The Conservative Party are preparing for their National Convention at almost the same time as the Liberals. It is an interesting comparison of membership involvement and a sad day when the Liberals could learn about membership respect from the Conservatives. The Conservatives will deal with a large slate of Constitutional amendments submitted by the EDA’s of the party. Member driven changes from what should be the most important and respected element of every political party.

  • Jennifer Pollock

    To your original post Scott I believe that there is pressure and it takes many forms. The more offensive aspect is the abuse of process to attempt to guarantee ratification and no movement to improve or add accountability or support for a model of a more diffuse federal type. Clearly the power, money and brand is to be centrally controlled through the proposed constitution. We have clear messages that we shouldn’t speak of the central control of Banking, accounting and reporting for EDAs.

    With respect to the response, I don’t see this as a movement but a move to create a powerful central party. The party to choose candidates and development bylaws which control even the existence of Commissions. It could be a set up for the proportional model which I am concerned could break the relationship between the elected representatives and their constituents. The model where the electors elect the “party” , brand or popular face. I sense a difference between a political movement and grassroots democracy. Being that I am from Alberta I support the grassroots version of local democracy. I believe that Canada is better served by the mosaic paradigm than the melting pot movement.

  • Ron Waller

    Perhaps you should elaborate. It sounds to me like this is a continuation of Chretien who removed corporate money from politics. Thought by some to be a bad idea at the time. But given all the obvious corruption in the US from politicians taking speaking fees in exchange for designer legislation, he was actually removing some establishment control over the Liberal party.

    So when you say ‘party hierarchy,’ JT may be attempting to unwind the party hierarchy by opening up the party. If this is the case, he would certainly have justification whipping the vote.

    I’m skeptical of JT’s ‘1party’ thing. It seems he’s trying to cash in on the movement behind Bernie Sanders. PET certainly cashed in on the movement of the 1960s. But cynically. Which is why he didn’t win a majority in 1972. So if JT is planning on opening up the floodgates to Sanders’ kind of grassroots political activism in Canada, to perhaps fend off a grassroots movement that could sweep the NDP to power, is he going to ditch his commitment to electoral reform? The obverse of electoral reform with a multiparty system is FPTP with a two-party system (‘1party’ of the center-left and a con party.)

    Of course, JT has proved me wrong on ER every time so far. I was certain he would go the route of premiers Campbell and McGuinty with some BS like designed-to-fail referendums. So far he remains the only honest player in the whole ER circus. But he still remains an unknown. If he legislates even simple ranked ballot voting (against all the theatrics from opposition parties and the establishment news media,) and opens up the Liberal party, he will literally be the founding father of democracy in Canada.

    Given the disastrous neoliberal era, the establishment’s writing is on the wall. Is JT ahead of the curve, looking to remove establishment control of the country? Or is he simply looking to manufacture a couple majority governments to build a legacy and mitigate the damage coming the establishment’s way? He always struck me as an actual centrist Keynesian Liberal (all of whom were essentially jettisoned from the party around 1995.) Perhaps he’s just as sick as most people of neoliberal establishment economics and wants to free the Liberal party from Red Tory subjugation and finally put an end to the failed Mulroney era.

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