Monday, April 27, 2009

Michael Ignatieff on One Member, One Vote

Michael Ignatieff makes the case for the One Member, One Vote constitutional ammendment in The Hill Times this morning:

"It's a convention about constitutional reform for the party. We're making an important series of constitutional changes including a weighted one-person-one-vote to select a leader. That's a very important change in a party. It's not a detail, it's not housecleaning; it changes the way the party works. It says to everybody who want s to join our party, 'If you join our party you get to vote for the man or woman who may be the prime minister of your country—so join the party.' That's why one-man-one-vote is so important and why it means an end to delegated conventions," Mr. Ignatieff (Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Ont.) told The Hill Times last week.

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Mike said...

It means "an end to delegated conventions"?

You see Jeff this is another example of why youth feel this passing WITHOUT their amendment means the next step will be to do the same for the policy process, therefore youth, women and Aboriginals will have no effective voice in it anymore just like they didn't in the En Famille process this year. Aboriginals no longer would get a say in what should be our Aboriginal policy, women and youth would no longer have the votes to push us towards adopting more avant-garde progressive ideas (like anti-ballistic missile defence and same-sex marriage).

Do you really have any HONEST reason to believe that WON'T be the next step? And that the SAME arguments will be used by Michael Ignatieff, Rocco Rossi and others to ram that through too without any quotas?

You know that Carolyn Bennett and Justin Trudeau have said in the Hill Times they want OMOV without quotas for policy too, and I think it's very likely that what the Change Commission will call for.

Joan Bourrassa who's likely to be re-elected as VP Policy (just look at her endorsement list), has even said she would be "using En Famille as a consultation tool as well as a voting tool on various issues, ( if one member, one vote is passed at this convention)" so she's directly tied getting rid of quotas to OMOV passsing at convention.

So I think people should know really what's on the table here (cue James Curran to tell me to give it a rest....but Jeff I know you agree with me on the need for quotas in the policy process to I look forward to your response).

It's why it's a VERY good compromise to pass the YLC amendment AND OMOV. Otherwise we go down the slippery slope towards making the commissions irrelevant in all major aspects of party operations and direction (and no it's not so easy to recruit these gruops and "triple their membership", that's why we have commissions in the first place because these groups are so hard to recruit and get involved).

PS I'm aware Ignatieff's comment could be interpreted as being solely in reference to leadership but all the rest of my points in this comment still stand...

A BCer in Toronto said...

The comment does just apply to leadership conventions, as you well know Mike.

The rest of your comment is hypothetical speculation with a tweak of fear mongering I have no desire to engage in.

I will say I support the continuance of the current delegated system for policy conventions. If we do look at changing that process, I'll argue for a continuance of demographic weightintg for all binding votes.

I'll also be supporting the YLC ammendment to require policy workshops at convention. And I won't be voting for Bourassa.

Mike said...

Thanks for the comments Jeff. I don't really like how people call something "fear mongering" to try to dismiss it's points (since it's based on quotes from Bennett, Trudeau and Bourassa), but good to hear the rest of your reply.

I will be very surprised though if the Change Commission doesn't recommend moving to OMOV for policy without any quotas.

Mark said...

"If you join our party you get to vote for the man or woman who may be the prime minister of your country—so join the party."


When will we see a similar quote that reads:

"If you join our party you get to vote for the man or woman who may be your local MP —so join the party."

Seriously. I don't mean to keep beating this drum, but ours is a Parliamentary system. Canadians do not directly choose their Prime Minister anyway. But we do choose our MPs. If One-Member-One-Vote is so important in choosing the candidates for the office that we do not elect, then why is it so readily overlooked for those offices which we actually do elect?

Scott Tribe said...

Mike was quick with that response. I'm sure the YLC supporters of their quota and/or against OMOV weren't too happy to see the leader endorse the concept of democratic reform

Mike said...

Scott: Ignatieff didn't say anything about the YLC amendment. And remember pretty much all young Liberals do support OMOV, they just want to make sure youth aren't silenced for future leadership races in the process (because even with doubling the membership in absolute numbers they'd still only be 10-15%).

I would be VERY surprised if Ignatieff says anything negative about the YLC amendment for OMOV (like Rocco Rossi did) considering pretty much everyone of his top youth organizers in 2006 and 2008 are supporting this amendment. Regardless of Ignatieff's own personal view on the matter I don't think Ignatieff would risk angering them by coming out against it considering they've devoted so much of their time the past few years to help get him where he is. I imagine Ignatieff will stay neutral on the YLC amendment.

I imagine if the YLC amendment passes, he will still be encouraging Liberals to support OMOV.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Mike if we're to consider such hypotheticals, we should also consider what would happen if the YLC ammendment encourages other groups to seek over-weighted quotas. Anytime I try to bring that up, YL supporters tell me that's hypothetical, yada yada.

But that's a tangent. I'd be intereted in your thoughts on John Lennard's comments re: the YLC ammendment made at Scott's blog. He's come out in opposition to the ammendment. Besides being something he surely believes, I find it interesting because I doubt he'd have done this is the youth were in bulk in fsvour of the ammendment. It would seem that there is far from unanimity in YLC ranks on this.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Mark, I don't follow. Are you talking about candidate nominations? Don't we essentially have OMOV there? Or are you arguing for a primay system for candidate nominations? I'm confused.

Mike said...

Mark is talking about protecting MP's seats and candidate appointments by the leader I'm sure.

As for youth opponents of this amendment, I'd just be curious how they voted in 2006 on this very same amendment, because I'm pretty sure the youth voted 90% in favour of it then. So I'd like to hear why someone supported it then and not now (that's not be critical, people can have very valid reasons for doing so, as many previous opponents of OMOV have now come around since then).

Based on what I've heard it should be about 70-80% of youth that support it this time, but there is substantial support among elements of the senior party as well. It will come down to how supporters/opponents make it convention in determining whether or not it passes.

It's really not a YLC Presidential race campaign issue though, it's a personal viewpoint on a constitutional amendment.

No doubt there are many people on John Lennard's campaign team that are supporting the amendment and some people on Sam Lavoie's campaign that are opposed to it, it's not make or break for who you are supporting for President. That would be like voting for LPC leader based on a single issue. People are going to vote I'm sure based on who they think would do the best job for the next 2 years, a lot of youth think that's Sam, a lot think it's John it might just come down to the wire and end up being very close. I'm sure either will do a great job.

But I'm not interested in being drawn into the YLC race though, I feel strongly about this amendment and would just as strongly support quotas for women and Aboriginals for the exact same reason (and for those who fear that it's how it's been done in the past and lead to some excellent PM's, Trudeau might not have won at in 1968 without quotas). So I'd like to keep the debate focused on the amendment and its validity and ramnifications, not what this or that candidate said.

Who wins the YLC race is immaterial as to whether the amendment passes, I know the current YLC exec and every acclaimed YLC candidate are unanimously supporting it and I hope they succeed.

Mark said...

Yes - talking about candidate nominations and the lack thereof. Of the 77 MPs we currently have in the house, 66 did not face a nomination in 2008, nor in 2006. Some have not faced a nomination since 1984. If we're going to get fired up about "democratizing" the party, isn't that a bigger issue? I mean, "join the party so you can choose the next leader in a few years" is hardly a compelling argument to convince someone to join the party tomorrow, is it?

Mike said...

And in case you think I'm failing to rebut what John Lennard said, what he said isn't at all any different that what you've said in the past about why you are oppposed to the amendment. I believe you'd agree that we've debated that to death and just agree to disagree on its merits and whether it would benefit the party. So if you would like to know my thoughts on John Lennard's comments specifically one need only revisit previous threads where I went on at length in my rebuttals.

Mike said...

Mark if you want to equate it to leadership then the equivalent would be a hold a "performance review" for MPs every two years since they did initially win a nomination in most cases before becoming MP no?

As you know the leader doesn't have to win the nomination again every 2 years, so we shouldn't necessary expect our MP's to either. But it's a good debate for the party to have, there should be some sort of recall mechanism perhaps to trigger a nomination.

James Curran said...

Mike, we've had this same debate over and over and over and over and over again for almost 4 weeks. You offer no new points. Jeff is offering a new point. Scott offered a new point. Iggy and Rocco want OMOV. Period.

And, if you want to talk about numbers and percentages I'll offer up a couple to you.

12 does not equal 50 plus 1.

10 does not equal 25

10 does not equal 33

As for you Mark, we all hear your frustration. Unfortunately it is not part of this particular debate and it must be fought on a new battlefield. I'd be happy to join you in that cause.

Mark said...

I'd suggest making a nomination valid for 8 years and/or two elections. That way MPs don't have to watch their back every year to sill membership heists, etc. I agree with protecting them, but within reason.

And my beef, by the way, isn't simply with incumbent MPs, it's with this culture we've adopted of "recruiting" our candidates instead of electing them. In some of our healthiest and most winnable ridings across the country we have pretty much killed off any semablance of local democracy. In some provinces it has had a devastating effect.

The thing I find ridiculous is the premise that if we choose OMOV for Leadership this week, people will suddenly be more encouraged to join the party.

I haven't posted anything on OMOV. But I just might. A month ago I was an arednt supporter, but I am having serious second thoughts.

I don't like the status quo, but I am starting to fear that the new proposal is worse.

Mark said...

"As you know the leader doesn't have to win the nomination again every 2 years."

How many Leaders have lost more than one election and stuck around?

You can't compare MPs to Leaders because Canadians in our Parliamentary system do not vote for Prime Ministers. That's my point. Our whole system is founded (for better or for worse) on the conecpt of local democracy at the riding level, and "first among equals" to choose a PM. I worry that we have lost sight of that.

Also, am I the only one that finds it a tad ironic that the party has chosen to make Leadership selection methods the focal point of a convention which has an acclamation? As a Liberal, I'd rather spend the weekend focusing on Ignatieff's streegths than the weakness of the system that made him leader.

But that's just me.

Scott Tribe said...

Apples and oranges Mark. Let's focus on getting the more democratic method of picking leaders passed first. I don't see how you can link the 2.

As for Mike.. I wasn't aware you were a pollster for what the YLC membership will do with regards to the amendment or how they will vote.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Mark, I don't think we've necesaily choosen to make the focus of the convention OMOV. It just became more prominent when it became a coronation. And it is an important issue, and a symbolic one, for many people. I also think it's easier to do now, when no ledership race is imminent, so the debate is on its merits and isn't dragged into the mele of leadership politics.

That said, OMOV isn't the be all, end all of party reform. It's merely one importany issue. Nominations are another. I very much think we need to start looking at that issue. I'd like to see a much more open process, with incumbent having to wok to keep their nominations. I'd like to overhaul the greenlight process. And I'd like to look at the leader's power of appointment, with an eye to sharply limiting it.

If you'd like to begin working on a grassroots discussion and consultation on nominations with an eye to preparing a constitutional ammendment for the next biennial, I'd be happy to work with you on that, and I think a lot of others would too.

Mark said...

Scott - I think we agree that they're apples and oranges.

BCer - On the last point - you got a deal!

I'm having a serious change of heart on OMOV. I was ambivalent about it before (although I did advocate for it in the written submission I sent to the Renewal Committee), but after a few chance encounters with Liberal friends I had this week, I think I would vote against it.

In a nutshell, I understand entirely why OMOV appears to be more democratic. But the same democratizing effect could be had by binding delegates under the current system until their candidate drops. And, of course, eliminating the ex-officios. That would have, proportionally, the exact same effect as a OMOV multiple or preferential ballot.

My worry about OMOV is purley local. I fear we'll be ushering in an era of "call centre democracy" where candidates with money and name recognition will spend all of their campaign resources on phone banks and data centres.

Under a delegated system, you actually have to travel the country and gain the support of liberals. You have to get local people to sign on to your campaign and put their name on a local ballot. Under OMOV yuo can override all of that by blowing all of your money on a bunch of call centres.

If that's the kind of process the Party wants, then they're free to choose it.

I'll bet anyone 5 bucks that in ten years the party goes back to some hybrid delegated system.

Mark said...

Oh - and one last point.

The reason I have my knickers in a twist about local nominations is that in this so-called time of great rebirth and renewal, our party membership is under 70,000. As a point of reference, on the eve of our last "coronation", the party membership was over 400,000.

We all know that the first step to expanding our donor lists is expanding our membership lists.

If we have very few contested nominations, and no reason to sign up new members, what on earth is going to generate these lists?

The only reason anyone has articulated yet from the centre as to why Canadians should join the party, is that they'll one day get to choose a new leader.

Think on that.