Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Party's Violation Of Liberals' Rights

Liberal members are more important than the National Executive; they are more important than the 77 Liberal MPs in the House; and they are and always will be more important than our leader. In putting the Party in its current position, the National Executive, the Liberal caucus, and the Leadership candidates are guilty of indirectly violating the right of its members to select their own leader.

Liberal members have the constitutional right to select their leader, but by the actions of the National Executive and caucus alone that right was indirectly violated. The forced resignation of Stephane Dion allowed for that opportunity, as that left the decision of who would be interim leader up to the National Executive based on consultations with the caucus. With that, the heavily Ignatieff-weighted caucus made it clear they wanted their candidate to fill that position. And as was obvious to them beforehand, once Michael Ignatieff appeared to take that role as leader, his challenger Bob Rae was all but defeated. This was the case and Bob Rae withdrew knowing his fate was sealed.

The Liberal Party's National Executive and caucus, by pressuring Dion to resign gave them power to select the interim leader and then with the selecting of a leadership candidate allowed them to indirectly select the next leader of the Liberal Party. Their sole actions made it impossible for a rival to challenge their candidate at a Convention. In taking those steps, our Party officials indirectly violated our constitutional right to select our leader.

Stephane Dion should not have been forced to resign. Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae should never have been candidates for interim leader. The National Executive should never have allowed them to be. And throughout all of this, the Liberal caucus should not have selfishly thought of only what was best for them, but instead should have thought of what was best for the party.

In indirectly violating our right as members to select our leader, the Liberal National Executive and the Liberal caucus ignored the importance on which their very existence is predicated upon, the importance of us, Liberals.


Liz Faure said...

Just resign your membership. I already have.

Spudster said...

I think it is critical that a constitional amendment is made which makes it against party rules for an interim leader to be the same person who is running for leadership.

I know people are going to complain that it will damage us in times of real crisis, but after seeing how the word crisis has been twisted by the Ignatieff campaign team over the last week, I think a solid, written in stone principle which denies the right of the caucus to appoint a permanent leader could go a long way in relegitimizing this party.

The facts are, as Liberals, what happened yesterday can never happen again and we must work to constitionally prevent it from ever happening again this May.

Mark said...

I agree with part of what you say spudster - Constitutional changes are required. The Constitution as it presently exists is worse than the one the "reform" committee set out to change. The biggest problem is that while shrinking the representation on the one hand, it increased the number of ex-officios and the clout of caucus on the other.

There has to be a greater balance. But I'm not sure I agree with Scott's assessment that members' rights were violated. The National Executive has always had the power to name an interim leader. And if anyone wants to challenge Mr. Ignatieff for the full time position, they can still file their papers. I think the bigger problem is that leadership should require a lengthier timeline, and so an interim leader must be cloaked with all of the authority required to run the party - particularly during times of instability.

Moreover, how did we allow the media (and our caucus) to convince us that the last leadership was a bad contest? It attracted a strong field, the likes of which this country had not ever seen, and resulted in a compelling convention. People seem to have confused their retroactive disappointment with the result with their assessment of the process itself.

Anyway, before this becomes a rant - here's some good news - the Convention in May represents a chance to change the Constitution for the better. Every good idea should be up for discussion.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

Mark: Yes the executive has the right to choose the interim leader but they don't have the right to choose the permanent leader. The thing is if they choose a leadership candidate as interim leader they pretty much do choose the permenent leader.


whopitulia said...

I think a lot of work needs to be done organizing the grassroots for the policy convention in May. Instead of resigning our memberships, we need to be signing people up and voting in delegates who will vote for change. I've sent Gerard Kennedy a letter asking him to help in that regard and anyone I know in a riding that has a Liberal MP who has spoken out for change like Martha, etc will also be getting letters.

Red Tory said...

Scott — While I respect your opinion, unfortunately, all you’re doing with grumpy rants like this is providing fodder to the “Blogging Tories” to seize upon with glee and then crow about the presumed disunity amongst Liberals and their deep dissatisfaction with the party in regards to the way in which the leadership “race” played out.

Certainly, the process was less than ideal and reform is in order, but the outcome is probably for the best. Perhaps it would be more prudent at this juncture to focus on that and leave grievances about the process for another time with a view to advancing them in a more constructive way at the upcoming convention in May.

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

I think change starts with three simple suggestions:

(1) The Liberal Party of Canada must have openly contested nominations in all 308 ridings. The new leader should announce this immediately. By my count, only ten of our current MPs have faced a nomination over the past two years. Good MPs have no reason to fear a democratic contest n their riding.

(2) The party must follow through on its commitment to have a uniform set of membership rules, across the country. This was already decided, but is not yet implemented.

(3) The number of ex-officio voting delegates must be curtailed. Every living former MP is now a delegate for life. They should not be. Ex-officios should be limited to the caucus, riding presidents, former Party leaders and national executive members. That's about 700 and that's enough.

The independent blog said...

hey redtory, let me put it politly, shut the fuck up, unlike the other side, we all have the right to our opinions, for or against, unlike you some of us enjoy disenting opinion, and we dont cry to the liblogs administrator when we dont agree with one....
realise that the liberal party, is not in agreement with your views, we are not the tories, we dont censure opinions, your in the wrong party little girl.

Red Tory said...

let me put it politly, shut the fuck up, unlike the other side, we all have the right to our opinions...

Aside from there being nothing "polite" (nice spelling there, bub) about your suggestion, it's amusing that you see no inherent contradiction in what you're saying.

Everyone has the right to their opinions, no shut the fuck up and get out of our party, little girl.

Heh. What an ignorant dolt.

Bo Green said...

Hey... Don't talk this divisive speak. Now is the time to go write on every blog that now is the time to unite the party around our leader.

Stronger together. Weaker not together.

Tous ensemble. A thousand points of light.


I'm not sure if that was actually you posting that comment on CG, or if you were being sarcastic in one or the other, but... I'm confused....

Bo Green said...

I have to disagree with RedTory, and so many, many other Liberals who think this was a good idea.

And I frankly think it's a joke to suggest that Scott's thoughts are going to provide ammunition for the Conservatives. Any member of any party, and any citizen of the country, has the right to question the decisions of the higher-ups - that's the point of democracy. Stifling debate and criticism was the Bush Admin's trick, and I think it would be better to avoid adopting it.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

Bo Green: Yes I was being sarcastic. Admittedly not the best way to make a statement both in interpretation and in manners.

"Thousand points of light" Was a Reagan campaign phrase made famous by Dana Carvey.


Bo Green said...

I totally could not tell and I was sooo confused - it totally did not sound like you to be marching so strictly in line, so I hopped over here and found this post, and then I was even more confused... thanks for clearing me up. :)

I agree with you so, so much.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

Bo: I should have been more sarcastic... Maybe throw in a sieg hail or something.

But you weren't the only one.

This isn't a small issue and if the coalition stays united and Iggy becomes PM, Canada would have a leader that was selected by less than 100 people.

Now I'm for the coalition and believe its democratic, but not having a leader that becomes PM that was selected in this manner.