Monday, December 8, 2008

Here's What We Should Do:

Kady O'Malley has a little poll on her blog today asking people's preferences for selecting a new Liberal leader. Some of the options are facetious ("Leader handpicked by John Manley, who then heads back down the Highway to Heaven in search of wrongs to right"), some are impractical ("One-member-one-vote online/phone ballot within the next two weeks"), and some are sheer madness ("Oh, maybe we should just let him stick around until May. What harm could it do?").

Here are my suggestions, expanded from what I said in the comments.

As I understand it, the Liberal constitution simply doesn't allow for the selection of a permanent leader by anything other than the delegate process. Why the media is implying that Bob Rae is suggesting otherwise I have no idea - although I'll bet everyone is really wishing they'd opted for 'One Member, One Vote' at the last convention right now.

That leaves the options for appointing an interim leader, which are considerably more flexible although technically up to the National Executive. For reasons I've already stated that were echoed today by Martha Hall Findley, I would personally like to see someone other than Rae or Iggy installed to avoid giving the advantage to one or the other. Unfortunately, I don't think that's likely to happen. For one thing, it would be the equivalent of drawing straws for someone who will potentially be leading us in an election. For another, it will only add to the general air of uncertainty and give Harper more ammo to blast the coalition.

So. Given that the interim leader is likely to be either Rae or Ignatieff, and given that whoever is selected is more than likely to end up ratified at the convention, leaving this decision up to just the caucus is simply unacceptable. It would disenfranchise not only the grassroots of the party (thus proving everything bad that people say about the Liberals), but entire regions of the country that have next to no Liberal representatives in Parliament.

While it would be theoretically acceptable to try to do some sort of online or phone-based one member, one vote procedure for choosing an interim leader, I honestly can't see it happening within any sort of reasonable time frame. Remember, these are people who couldn't get a decent video together in a timely fashion.

My solution: one riding, one vote. If a riding has a Liberal MP, they get a vote. If they don't, the riding president gets a vote. And all must base their vote on the wishes of the riding membership, however formally or informally expressed. Preferably voiced at an in-person meeting, or maybe just by email. I know the Halton FLA is having its AGM this week, so that would be the perfect time for us, but each riding could decide how to go about making their choice.

There. Problem solved.

In any case, this all needs to be resolved by the second week of January.


  1. Hi Jennifer. I think it's funny that the last three posters on Kady's post were Jennifers.

    I'm trying to be an informed Canadian, so that my voice and my vote reflect the choices that are available--not the choices I'd like in an ideal world.

    To that end, I'd like you to explain what you mean when you say "appointing an interim leader, which are considerably more flexible although technically up to the National Executive."

    If it is in the Liberal Party constitution that the interim leader shall be chosen by the National Executive, what is flexible? Do you mean the National Executive might choose after taking a vote from caucus, and reflecting that choice, or they might expand it to take a vote from all riding presidents? Or they might just make the decision without asking anyone else's opinion?


  2. It's my understanding (and my understanding is not at all complete) that the Executive can choose an interim leader after "consulting" with the caucus. However, there is nothing to prevent them from also consulting with the riding presidents, former candidates, or the membership at large.

    Anyway, I'll be at a meeting of the Halton FLA tomorrow where I hope to have a lot of these questions answered.

  3. I agree with your assessment. This is such a delicate situation, whatever happens I hope the loser doesn't hold a grudge and hurt the party further.

  4. Well, I've got to hand it to you, you pretty much nailed what they plan to do, as I understand it. See Kady again for more.


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