Monday, March 23, 2009

Policy and the Liberal convention

Following my post last week raising some concerns about the restriction of voting power around the Liberal policy process leading-up to the Vancouver convention, I was interviewed by Harris MacLeod of The Hill Times. The article ran this morning:

What Mr. Ferguson didn't say, however, is that the votes cast on the En Famille forum are purely "consultative votes," and that whereas at past conventions elected delegates from riding associations across the country voted on which resolutions get sent to the plenary session, this time only the riding and provincial commission presidents get to vote.

"The idea was good in a sense, I'm all in favour of one member, one vote to give more power to the membership, but I think they kind of failed on the implementation of it by then restricting the vote to just the riding presidents and the commission presidents, which of course is a much more restrictive pool of people then if it had been voted on by all of the delegates," said Jeff Jedras, who is a Liberal Party member and writes the blog A BCer in Toronto.

In addition to the results of the En Famille vote, riding association presidents are also encouraged to hold meetings with their membership and canvass Liberals in their ridings about which policies they think should be prioritized and voted on at the plenary session.

Mr. Jedras, who lives in Liberal MP John Cannis's riding of Scarborough-Centre, said he can't speak for other ridings but as far as he knows there has been no such initiative in his riding.

"If the riding presidents take this seriously and they do their job this could work, but you're putting an awful lot of faith in the riding presidents.... Certainly I've not been invited to any consultation meetings or consulted at all as a member at large," Mr. Jedras said.

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penlan said...

"Mr. Jedras, who lives in Liberal MP John Cannis's riding of Scarborough-Centre, said he can't speak for other ridings but as far as he knows there has been no such initiative in his riding."

Haven't heard a word in my riding either - Perth-Wellington. I've been asking other bloggers, here & there, from different ridings if they've had contact from their riding assoc. & all have answered "no". I don't understand why not & was wondering if you, or anyone, has some idea of a reason for this inaction. Or if the whole process at En Famille was just a pacifier of sorts. If we aren't contacted then there is no democratic process. I hope I'm wrong.

OT - the badge is perfect now Jeff!

Ryan said...

I'm just disappointed in the party spin on this.

Basically it was complete deflection. What would have been wrong with opening up the formal vote to all registered convention delegates on En Famille?

Hiding behind the constitution doesn't work there, I'm sure there's nothing in the constitution about only riding Presidents being able to decide which workshop policies go to
plenary. If so, I would hope Justin Trudeau point to that clause.

So it seems "some sections of the party" were helping to move policies to the floor of the convention that perhaps senior party weren't as fond of. Of course there are only a handful of young Liberals who are riding Presidents so now they can take them out of the equation.

You just watch NOT A SINGLE YLC submitted policy is going to end up being on the plenary floor.

Sure lots of people don't like the youth wing, but they are some of the most active volunteers in the party and their voice is essentially stamped all over with this move.

But what's most disappointing is just the deflection to hide behind the constitution - all registered delegates could have voted on En Famille there is no justification for why they didn't.

It's just too bad the Hill Times didn't call them on that - kudos to you Jeff though for your efforts.

In the end, I'd love to hear an update from all the riding associations to explain how they "consulted their members", because I bet a pretty large number don't hold any consultation with their members at all and maybe some don't even know there's a vote coming up this week.

Even worse, I bet a bunch don't even vote at all thereby completely disenfranchising that riding.

Here's hoping the final results of the riding association President votes are made public. I don't care who voted for who, but I'm really curious how many actually voted and what the breakdown was for each policy.

But I guess it's wishful thinking.