Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Why I support (weighted) one member, one vote

This week as part of the package of renewal motions Liberal delegates will vote on adopting a weighted one member, one vote method of leadership selection. This would see us join every other party in the 21st Century and be a major step toward party renewal. I urge all delegates to support it.

For me, this is really an issue of the grassroots having a true say. I have a number of issues with the current system, but I'll start with ex-officios. It bothers be that this category gets automatic delegate status because they hold one of a mayrid or party offices, are an MP or past candidate, or a member of the Privy Council. I don't think they should be entitled to any special rights over and above any other party member. We should ALL be equal.

Even the leaders of the provincial "Liberal" parties are automatic ex-officio members of the LPC and therefore could claim ex-officio delegate status. Yes, even BC Premier Gordon Campbell. Anyone who follows BC politics know that Gordo is no Liberal, and neither is the BC Liberal Party. Something is wrong with that picture.

Then there are all the machinations that can happen with a delegated system. Rather than voting directly for your choice for leader you vote for a person supporting your choice and that person is pledged to vote for that candidate on the first ballot. But only on the first ballot. After that they're on their own and your views don't matter anymore.

On machinations, Steve at Far and Wide wrote this week about a theory postulated by one David Herele who, say what you will about him (and I have), knows a thing or two about leadership contests:

… Ignatieff or Rae may send some delegates to Kennedy to boost his support on the first ballot and keep Dion well back in fourth. The theory being, a weakened Dion would be less of a threat, as well as the added bonus of those delegates coming back on the second ballot to show artificial growth….

And there's also this section from a news story talking about the four former Dion supporters that crossed over to the Ignatieff camp:

…Coderre said some won't vote for Dion, even though they are committed to do so on the first ballot. "There's some people who won't even vote on the first ballot and just vote on the second."

Is this really respecting the will of these people that elected these people to support a candidate that they'll either skip the first ballot instead of voting for the person they pledged to vote for, or will vote for someone else all together as part of some grand political strategy?

It's nauseating, really, and it's the kind of old style politics that Canadians have come to abhor. This wouldn't happen with OMOV. You rank your choices on a preferential ballot and it's the voice of all the members that gets heard.

Now, the argument most often levied in favour of the delegated system is that conventions are so exciting, it's a good dose of earned media for the party. And that's true, this week is going to be fun. For those that are there. For those that can afford to raise $1000 for a delegate fee, $500 or more for a hotel and another $500+ for airfare.

So, it's an exciting weekend for those that can afford to drop $2000 to spend a week in Montreal in the winter (looking better than Vancouver right now though). That's leaves out a lot of average folks, and after their voices are heard on the first ballot (if they're lucky) they're silenced.

We can do something to make things more exciting but I'd rather have a slightly less exciting event that sees the will of the membership truly represented than a super exciting event only open to the wealthy, and their voices.

An argument presented against OMOV is that it would remove the incentive for candidates to campaign in every riding. With OMOV, the theory goes; it would be more profitable to concentrate on mass signups in major urban centres. With pure OMOV that would be true, but what we're talking about here is weighted OMOV.

Under such a system, each riding is assigned 100 points which are assigned to the candidate's totals based on the vote in that riding. Therefore each riding has an equal voice, and candidates must campaign and organize everywhere, just as they must now.

No system is perfect. But in terms of fairness, transparency and just basic affordability I feel it's time we do away with the delegated convention.

That said, i this is the last one I'm looking forward to partying like its 1968.

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Anonymous said...

Money is only a barrier due to C-24.

As for that, we liberal fat cats want our ex-officio spots, we have already been elected by the membership of the party, so why should we have to run again?

You rail against the leaders of the party - but will you rail against the other true elites - laurier club members?

Another thing as for cost, hopefully we only do this every ten years, and then the cost is much more sane.

Jeff said...

Sure, before c24 campaigns could raise corporate money by the bucketload and then pay their supporters way. C24 was a step toward cleaning that up, which is a good thing.

Ah, nice emodiment of the fabled sense of entitlement. Anyway, under OMOV, no one will have to run again.

Laurier Club members get comp'd observer status, they can't vote.

And the last point has some validity, but still doesn't negate the fact the cost still excludes a large per centage of the membership.

Anonymous said...

Yes, even BC Premier Gordon Campbell. Anyone who follows BC politics know that Gordo is no Liberal, and neither is the BC Liberal Party. Something is wrong with that picture.

Like Kennedy, here I am late with my comments.

I agree that Campbell can't be called a federal Liberal, not having a membership card & all. I also agree there are significant numbers of federal Conservatives in the BC Liberal party.

That said, if you follow BC politics in Campbell's second term, you'll find they are indeed a capital 'L' Liberal party and are marching pretty much lockstep with their federal cousins philosophically these days. I know you're exiled to Toronto so you're out of the loop, but you might want to use that lens when you look at the scraps of coverage you get about BC.