Today was the Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario)’s Toronto region day,
where Liberals from the ridings of greater Toronto gathered
to talk organization, policy and
rebuilding. A few items of interest to share, particularly on the leadership
Speaking of leadership, as I believe in full disclosure I’ll say that I’m supporting Deborah Coyne for the leadership and have been helping on her (pre)campaign since mid-summer.(I’ll write more about why I’m supporting Deborah and what I like about her platform and vision soon.) So I’ll naturally be careful and selective in my leadership commentary, and I’ll try to stick to reporting what others said in this post rather than offering too much commentary. Let me stress though that any opinions expressed on my blog are, as always, mine and mine alone.
Anyway, today our post-lunch speaker was Liberal Party of Canada president Mike Crawley, who gave attendees an update on where things are at with the leadership process. I’ll assume you’ve read the rules that were posted recently as far as entry fee and spending caps, so I won’t rehash that. He did share some new items of interest though, but I’ll stress these items are still fluid and aren’t yet official. I’d guess he was discussing the evolving thinking of the adhoc rules committee (committee member Christine Innes was also present), which will make recommendations that must be approved (and could be modified) by the national board. So it’s all subject to change.
First, he indicated the leadership vote will probably be an online and telephone vote, instead of physical paper balloting. I’ve written previously about the challenges of both systems, and the importance of verifying the identity of the voter, and that the vote is cast by them and without coercion. The details of how that vetting will happen and security assured are still being determined.
Second, Crawley and Innes floated the idea of a $1 or $2 vote fee to cover the cost of the voting system. It’s unclear if this would apply to members and supporters, or just supporters. We're not talking about a fee to attend a debate (there would likely be a cost-recovery fee for attending the debates, and the speech showcase events, and that's generally accepted), but to cast your vote, whether online or over the phone.
The reaction to this idea in the room was pretty negative. One person likened it to a poll tax, while others noted it ran contrary to the whole spirit of the supporter system (all our literature around supporter signup touts how it’s easy and free and you get to vote for leader). It was also suggested by one questioner that the $75,000 entry fee for leadership candidates and 10 per cent cut of all donations to leadership candidates taken by the party was meant to cover the costs of running the race. Crawley and Innes indicated though they wanted those funds for general revenue as it will be difficult for the party itself to raise money during the race, and they still wanted to consider recovering leadership vote expenses in another way.
Third, there will be five leadership debates across Canada from January to March. Cities to be announced, but the string will end in March in Montreal. Each will have different formats and themes. Then, the final major leadership speech event will be in Toronto on April 6th. Immediately after the speeches, voting will likely open and remain open for the following week. There may be the option to vote onsite at the event after the speeches are over (likely on laptop stations, as the NDP did) and ridings will be encouraged to hold their own voting events during the week. And then, at another event in Ottawa on April 14th, the results will be announced and the new leader will give her or his maiden speech to the nation.
In other more minor notes, he affirmed that while he may have wanted to shorten it, as I wrote last week the 41-day cutoff for supporter and member sign-ups is a constitutional requirement. The suggestion of an extraordinary convention (a la last summer) to amend that requirement that wasn’t looked on favourably by Crawley and Innes, due to the need for time to allow the party to verify supporter and member identities.
Those were the major news items on the leadership front. Over lunch, Borys Wrzesnewskyj gave us an update on Etobicoke-Centre. In short, no idea when the Supreme Court will finally rule on Ted Opitz’s appeal of the ruling Borys won in the lower court. But while Opitz and the Conservatives are blanketing the riding with taxpayer-funded mailers (and launching robocalls), he says the Liberals are actively canvassing door to door and at events and meeting people, speaking about the last election and the court challenge, and getting very good feedback.
Finally, we elected members to the communications, organization and policy committees of the LPC’s Ontario wing. Most of the races were hotly contested, but I had the good fortune to be acclaimed as the member of the communications committee for Area 3 (the east side of Toronto, essentially Scarborough and Don Valley). I’m looking forward to working with the ridings in my area to help us communicate better, both to our fellow Liberals and the general public.Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers