Wednesday, May 11, 2011

“Let every man look before he leaps”

Members of the Liberal Party of Canada: inform yourselves so you can express yourselves.

Regardless of where they net out on when a new leader should be chosen and why, it appears as if the mood of the membership is not comfortable with the process defined by the LPC Board.  I say "appears" because no one really knows what the membership thinks because no one has asked them.  I'd venture a guess that many of the non-day-to-day active, but nonetheless committed party members aren't fully aware of the discussions about a "special convention" and all it entails (they are likely aware of the interim/permanent leader intrigue, but not of the other machinations). 

I say that because all of the evidence is anecdotal.  Many people expressing their opinions in public, on social media and so on, but I haven't been able to find very many who have actually been asked formally, by those who purport to represent them, their opinions and none who are just lowly average members.

Party President Alf Apps, in many public comments, and in a rat-a-tat blast of emails to yours truly (and others I gather) yesterday in reference to my own comments about "negative option consultation" has stated repeatedly that a wide consultation was conducted by voting members of the Board. 

" I have received submissions from well over 1000 Liberals and my PTA Presidents have consulted with almost 100 percent of riding presidents, ..."

Well, I've been unable to find one riding president in Ontario who has been consulted formally or informally by anyone from LPCO.  And of those that I am aware of who have been in other provinces, none of them were requested to even canvass their own riding executives, let alone poll their full membership.

I don't know how they can purport to "represent" the views of the membership when they don't ask the membership.  These are big issues, they require transparency and accountability for credibility.

Reports are that caucus members weren't consulted either, even though they had representatives at the Board meeting who expressed views and voted where eligible to do so.  I guess they were personal views.

While this is concerning in and of itself, it does not bode well for communications with the membership on the conduct and work to be done at the actual special convention.

For example, given that the "statement" from the National Board was apparently sent to caucus (and the media) but not to members of the party or riding presidents, how many people are aware that they will need to be members of the party by May 20, in order to vote for delegates to this special convention?  A note from a riding president might be one way, but I guess that's rather hard to do if they don't formally know.  There are also the many volunteers that flooded into campaigns across the country who may not yet be members.  I'm sure someone would like to inform them.

People need to know and understand the work that will be done at this special convention and how it will be conducted.  It's being said that it will be a "virtual convention", with an "internet ballot".  How will pro and con discussion of the constitutional amendments be conducted?  When you have virtual line ups at virtual microphones it's difficult to know if the first in line is really the first one to get to speak.  How will quorum be determined?

Then there are the delegate selection meetings themselves.  People need to know very quickly just how to put their name forward to run to be a delegate - what needs to be filed with whom and by when?  

But more importantly, if I'm going to vote for someone and delegate my views as a member to them, to express on my behalf, I want to know in advance what their positions are on the amendments proposed.  The party should be doing all in its power to facilitate meetings at the riding level for discussions of the amendments and to question delegate-candidates in advance of DSMs.  

Constituional amendments require a 2/3 approval.  It is important that we know the views of the delegates we are sending.

Ridings and riding presidents can be found by going to and clicking on the tab "Liberal Party".


  1. We have a Federal Liberal Action Group (FLAG) in Greater Vancouver - and we'll be shooting for a meeting before May 20th. We'll post on WesternGrit and other blogs with details...

  2. As President of the National Women's Liberal Commission I sit on the LPC national board of directors. For the record, in the limited time I had with the draft document you refer to I did some consultation with NWLC stakeholders... I held a conference call with the NWLC executive, provided an overview of the contents of the document and sought their input on key elements. I can't speak for others specifically but on the infamous conference call there were numerous references to passing on feedback that they'd committed to bring to the table on their stakeholders' behalf. Sometimes broad consultation isn't available in the limited time we have but I can assure that it did take place.

  3. Nicole, I do understand that you are a volunteer Board and that you do your best to seek the feedback you can and also that you often have, as you say, "limited" time. I am saying that when it is issues of great importance like this the time and care should be taken and assistance - support - given for greater proactive consultation.

    I'm a member of a women's club whose president is superb at keeping us up to speed on all manner of things. I know if she'd had a short discussion piece of paper or questionnaire or details where to go to fill one out online she would have informed us/sought our opinion. Riding Presidents too. And I have to repeat, in Ontario at any rate I really don't think riding presidents were canvassed.

    We have a pyramidal structure in the party. We have a national register of members. We live in an electronic era. Every riding executive has a membership secretary. I just don't see why the consultation couldn't have been broader.

    We want to belong to something and we want to participate. Otherwise, someone's going to have to explain to us members just why we're members.