Friday, June 17, 2011

Liberals: Let's not wait until 2013 to pick our leader

I've been informed that my sub-amendment on leadership timing has been accepted and will be debated during the Liberal extraordinary convention tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who pledged their support to help get it onto the agenda.

I'll have a chance to introduce the sub-amendment on the call tomorrow, but time will be limited so I'd like to speak to it at a little more length here. First, here's the original amendment from the National Board of Directors which I'm seeking to amend:
1. The members of the Party assembled in convention, as a Special Resolution, amend the Constitution to add as section 82(1) the following:

Notwithstanding anything else contained in this Constitution (including, but not limited to, section 54):

(a) the meeting of the National Board of Directors required by subsection 54(3) as a consequence of the resignation of the Leader in May 2011 shall be held at any time on or before October 1, 2012; and

(b) at the meeting referred to in Paragraph (a), the National Board of Directors, in consultation with the Caucus and the Council of Presidents and on five (5) months’ notice to the Party, shall set a date for a Leadership Vote between November 1, 2012 and February 28, 2013.

This subsection (1) shall no longer be of force or effect on the later of the conclusion of the Leadership Vote contemplated by Paragraph (a) and February 28, 2013.

And here's my proposed sub-amendment:
Be It Resolved That proposed constitutional amendment number one be amended as follows:

i. in (a), strike “October 1, 2012” and replace with July 1, 2012
ii. in (b), strike “November 1, 2012 and February 28, 2013” and replace with “September 1, 2012 and November 30, 2012”
iii. in (b), strike “February 28, 2013” and replace with “November 30, 2012”
Essentially, I'm proposing we move the window for the leadership election (remember, it will be one member, one vote in our ridings instead of a convention) back to ensure it will take place in Fall 2012, between September 1 and November 30 of 2012. Under the current proposal, it could be delayed into 2013.

My proposal would also shorten the window in which the National Board could chose to schedule the vote from four months to three, to give a little more certainty on timing. The requirement for five months notice would remain intact.

Why do I object to the timing proposed by national board? Quite simply, I feel it delays the leadership process too far. Right now we're faced with two choices. A Yes vote means we might not have a permanent leader in place before the winter of 2013, nearly two years since the election. But if we vote No, that means a quickie race and a vote in October. That's way too soon for a credible, substantive race with a large field of candidates.

I think many feel like Goldilocks making her porridge choice: one is too hot, one is too cold. Where's the porridge that's just right?

I hope that Fall 2012 can be that just-right option. Very good points are made by those that favour both shorter and longer races. We don't want to rush into this; we need to begin rebuilding and decide the party we want to be before picking a leader that will buy into it. But we also need a leader with a mandate for reform from the party membership at large to carry forward with the rebuilding. It's a balancing act.

I also believe that, no matter what rules we put in place to try to limit or delay leadership organization activity, it's going to happen anyway. I'd be surprised beyond belief if it wasn't already. I don't want to see us distracted by leadership drama into 2013. Let's do this in Fall 2012, and send the leadership troops home before Christmas. Shortening the leadership window also reduces the influence of the National Board, and reduces the motivation for leadership camps to use the executive races at the next biennial to fight a leadership proxy battle.

In short, I feel that Fall 2012 is the compromise position with the best chance of success. It gives us enough time to begin on reform discussions. It allows time for credible leadership candidates to emerge and gather support. It allows for a race long enough for leadership candidates to travel the country and engage Liberals in all 308 ridings. And it will elect a leader before 2013, leaving us time to continue the reform and rebuilding process ahead of the next federal election, united as one party.

If you're a Liberal delegate I hope you'll consider voting for this sub-amendment Saturday, and I welcome your questions and comments.


Jeff Jedras


The full list of officially approved sub-amendments is now available online. In addition to mine above, there are several others that would delay the leadership past February 2013, the end of the window proposed by the national board, to as late as mid-2013. Another would also delay the biennial convention even further.

While they seem well intended, I have to disagree with these proposals for several reasons. Given that I feel the current proposed process delays the leadership too far already, I certainly couldn't support delaying it to the point where we would be going over two years without a permanent leader with a democratic mandate. I feel part of the renewal process needs to be a leader that has been elected by the membership of the party with a strong mandate for change and reform from we, the members. We shouldn't rush to that step, yes, but mid-2013? That is way too long to go with leadership drama and machinations distracting us from the work that needs to be done. It wouldn't help renewal; it would delay it.

I also object strongly (perhaps more strongly) to the proposal to delay the biennial. I think that’s the very wrong thing to do for renewal. Delaying biennial would mean going even longer with the current national executive (and president), and I feel change at the top is necessary for renewal to truly begin.

The biennial isn’t the end of the renewal process. Rather, it is the beginning, and there will be many more biennials to come as we reform and rebuild the Liberal Party. I’m disappointed we’re already delaying it to January; I can’t support delaying it further. It will be the first chance for we Liberals to all get together and discuss who we are, what we want to be and where we want to go. It’s an important first step, and we can’t delay it.

As a technical aside, delaying the biennial would cost the party a lot of money in lost deposits and cancellation feels for the convention centre in Ottawa and for hotels; I’m not sure we can afford to that right now.

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers


Jordan said...

Hope it passes. I'm excited for the race to begin and to see if good ideas come forward from the leadership candidates. Hopefully some new and different candidates come forward all with different ideas on where the party should go.

Personally I'd like to see more from Ted Hsu, he has an excellent background and I think he has the potential to be a new fresh leader. I'm unsure though if he is charismatic or what his personality is really like.

sharonapple88 said...

Personally I'd like to see more from Ted Hsu, he has an excellent background and I think he has the potential to be a new fresh leader. I'm unsure though if he is charismatic or what his personality is really like.

I have a soft sport for Ted Hsu. Recent article on him here (there's a video link too). It's probably too early for him to run as leader of the party, but with some training and experience, he has potential. I know I want him working on policy.

Jordan said...

Brian Mulroney wasn't an MP when he became leader of the PCs. A leader needs more then just parliamentary experience.

sharonapple88 said...

A leader needs more then just parliamentary experience.

Good point.

Karl said...

I agree with you on not supporting the extension of time for the Biennial, Jeff. The current Board will already have extended its mandate twice, first from June to December and then in the main motion to January. That's long enough. Another 5 1/2 months would have what was supposed to be a two-year term close to 40 months in length.

Karl said...

Good effort Jeff.

You made some cogent arguments and even though I didn't agree with all of them, they gave pause for thought. Also, it's good to see that the Biennial wasn't deferred yet again

sharonapple88 said...

I'm sorry your amendment didn't pass. (I supported it.) Who knew that the third one would have the political power-house that is Stephane Dion behind it. ;)

If you're a political geek, if there's another one of these telephone conventions in the future, join in. It was fascinating listening to other people's opinions like this. Word of advice if there is another one of these things... get a speaker phone (saves you from holding a receiver for a couple of hours). ;)