Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"The more thou stir it, the worse it will be."

Like that Sinatra song says: you can't have one without the other.

Sorry to do this, esteemed National Board of the Liberal Party of Canada, but looking at the Statement That No One Seems To Have Or Admit To Have Except the Media, I'm not so sure that everything is entirely Kosher in what's being proposed (as I began to wonder a couple of days ago).  

Like others, I've been wondering why putting off the the biennial for a month to January 2012 was so critical to all of these existential discussions. At the same time I think it's a large part of the reason why people are beginning to oppose all these shenanigans.  It's not that there isn't sympathy for the view that maybe the leadership vote should be put off somehow, but people seem to really, really want an early biennial to change the current Board and get on with the rest. And, they do not trust their trustees much and so question their motives.

So what's the rationale?  The Party is required to hold a biennial convention every 30 months, but at any rate within two calendar years.  Given that the last biennial began April 30, 2009, the next biennial has/d to be held before Dec 31, 2011, and had been called for June 17/18, 2011.  When the election was called, the LPC President issued a note saying that the Convention would not be held in June after all, and that "a new date will be set shortly, as per our constitution, to take place within six months of the original date."

So far so good. Regardless of the reason then, it would appear that the Board is correct in requiring a constitutional amendment to move the biennial to January 2011.  And to get the required constitutional amendment adopted, they require a convention, so they have to hold an "extraordinary" one.

Here's what that section of the constitution says:
61 Types of conventions
(1) Subject to this Constitution, the convention of the Party is the highest authority of the
(2) Except if rescheduled in accordance with Subsection 65(4), the Party must hold a
biennial convention of the Party at least once in every two calendar years and not
more than 30 months after the previous biennial convention of the Party.
(3) At any time except within six months of a biennial convention of the Party, the Party may hold an extraordinary convention to deal with any issues of extraordinary

Note these words in particular: "except within six months of a biennial convention". Let them sink in.

They have to hold the biennial within six months of the original - mid December. (Rumour had always been that they had set a date for December 14, when the Ottawa Congress Centre had been secured.) They cannot hold an extraordinary convention within six months of a biennial, and June 18 is within six months of a mid-December date, so they need to move the biennial to a date outside of six months (January 12-13) to hold the extraordinary. But they they cannot move the biennial without an amendment which can only be passed at an extraordinary.   Let those words sink in.

I know it makes the brain bust.  But I'm pretty darn sure (and have consulted) that the extraordinary or "special" convention as they are describing (at which they will also propose to amend the constitution to change the leadership vote provisions) cannot be held on June 18, 2011.



  1. C'mon - don't beat yourself up! Remember, Liberal$ are experts in everything! (Green energy, wind turbines in Lake Ontario, doubling electricity bills, a national daycare strategy, the green shift, cap and trade, national learning strategy)

  2. Hey Sheila,
    I looked at that timing within the last week, and I think because they have until December 31 to have the convention, the timing is legit - in fact, I rather suspect that the initial date proposed for the extraordinary convention was to comply with the revised date of the December convention; and someone on legal said they could do it a week later.

    But here again, as far as the bienniel date goes, I really think this has to do with donation limits. I remember before the election, it was in June - and generally as a party, we try not to have a convention the same year as an election; since there are now strict $1,100 limits, and the party was trying to fundraiser like crazy. When the election was called, I was hoping they'd push it to 2012, and I guess they couldn't; but I remember thinking, a convention before Christmas, with donations maxed out - I can imagine trying to explain to my kids why I went to Ottawa instead of buying them an XBox. So...they Exec is using all this to push that convention into 2012. I'm not all that upset about that, I have to tell you.

    And if the point is, that it makes the extraordinary convention offside, since its within 6 months - well fine, make that point. The date of the December bienniel seems to have been set. Perhaps there is some legal recourse to say, then, that the extraordinary meeting isn't valid; but that could be modified by the Natl Exec calling the convention for something like Dec 27. (by the way, as I understand it, the election itself added 6 months to the clock regarding the timing of the bienniel).

    Now, you want to really fight something, the idiotic handcuffing of the caucus regarding who can be the interim leader...thats a hill worth dying on