by airing his party’s dirty laundry, is hugh macdonald hurting the liberal party?

Edmonton-Gold Bar Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald

MLA Hugh MacDonald

Is Alberta Liberal leadership candidate Hugh MacDonald‘s continuing criticism of the legitimacy of the new “registered supporters” voting system hurting the chances of his party’s next leader?

“This list, as it exists, is a mess,” said MacDonald, a longtime Edmonton MLA. “This is not democracy.” (Edmonton Journal, August 31, 2011)

Over the course of the Liberal Party’s leadership contest, which will come to an end on September 10, Edmonton-Gold Bar MLA Mr. MacDonald has gone to great lengths to pull the media’s attention towards the party’s new leadership selection system. The new system allows anyone to register to vote in the leadership contest without having to purchase a membership, creating a whole new class of instant-Liberals, who’s numbers now greatly outnumber the party’s loyalist membership.

Mr. MacDonald criticized the initial party voting list on August 19, after it was discovered that a number of illegitimate names were added (people’s cats, dead people, and former Conservative Members of Parliament). This is a normal occurrence during most party leadership contests, and like other parties, the Liberals combed through the lists and eliminated the obvious forgeries.

A partisan stalwart, Mr. MacDonald’s obvious strategy is to unsaddle perceived front-runner in the contest, former Tory MLA Raj Sherman, but he may do well to remember how public criticisms of irregularities in the party’s leadership process in 1994 dogged then-Liberal leader Grant Mitchell in the 1997 election.

With the party tied in third place with the NDP according to the latest poll, will the next Liberal Party leader be handicapped by this  controversy before they even leave the starting gate?

33 thoughts on “by airing his party’s dirty laundry, is hugh macdonald hurting the liberal party?

  1. Marc Power

    You do have to feel a little bad for Hugh and Laurie. They have stood with the party through thick and thin (mostly thin!) but the leadership will essentially be decided by a bunch of people who have no connection to the party. They aren’t even willing to drop a few dollars to buy a membership!

    Obviously Raj Sherman will pull off a massive victory but I believe a lot of long time Liberals won’t be celebrating.

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  2. The Liberals are growing

    Dave, poor Hxgh is desperate. He has been outshined and outclassed by a far superior candidate. Hxgh just undermined his own character, let alone the parties, this shows extremely poor judgement and just confirms that he IS NOT a leader. He has had all that time to prove himself, before Raj came. Now that new blood has come, getting way more attention and applause, he can’t handle it. Just goto any of the Liberal forums, it is clear the way he talks, that Raj is the new Leader. Long time Liberals need to grow up. They have only finished breakfast since 1921. Raj Sherman is a gift. If it was not for him, this party would not be massively growing. The naysayers will make themselves irrelevant. Once the votes come in, ID all checked, hopefully, that will shut people who are whined about being outclassed.

    Lucky for Hxgh, Sherman is a classy kind of guy. I am not sure I would be. Sherman has been cool under fire, and is showing that he is the leader, everyday. A province is not a party, but the people in it. The Liberals are back and have grown massively, thanks to Sherman, we will have better opposition, or maybe even a new Party in power. Upsets do happen. Peter Lougheed pulled one on the Socreds.

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  3. Chris LaBossiere

    The simple answer is yes.

    The more complicated one is that MacDonald is correct in his reasoning and questioning of the process, and should be speaking his mind on this. To me, based on my experience with Sherman, there is a dissonance being created in the party that will be hard to fix. Popularity vs. Authenticity. You can have both, but you must have the latter first.

    Sherman is a take no prisoners self-promoter and that includes putting self before party. Late last fall according to Sherman himself, he was “days away” from announcing he was joining any one of the Alberta Party, NDP and WRP. His ego and desire to extract revenge on the Tory’s is what drove his decision. It may have been difficult to refuse him for any opposition party, and my guess is that each is quietly grateful that Sherman did not end up with them.

    Sadly, the Liberals may not have dodged that same bullet, and now they will have to suffer the consequences of not only welcoming Dr. Sherman to their ranks, but also creating a questionable leadership-voting model that will almost certainly assure his victory.

    I don’t have a horse in this race, but I must admit, this sure looks to me like a case of the Party abandoning some of their values for a chance at some public awareness. It certainly may work, and Dr. Sherman is very good at making noise… but is he good at leading with a team and sharing the spotlight? I have my doubts.

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  4. Broken Winged Swann

    To hurt something, it needs to be alive in the first place.

    That said, Mr. MacDonald deserves a lot of marks for consistency and loyalty, regardless of what one thinks of his choice of pony. Which is, as it appears, about to have one trick and one trick only.

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  5. William Munsey

    If being correct in his criticism of his own party hurts it, maybe that’s a good thing. Standing up for something solely for partisan reasons hasn’t done much good for any of us. Good for Hugh.

    Thinking about him after Jack Layton’s death, Hugh MacDonald has quite a lot of the same dogged, loyal qualities, doesn’t he? Well, maybe without the self-deprecating humour I liked in Mr. Layton.

    Reply
  6. Brandon Beasley

    I don’t think I oppose the new rules in principle, but it does leave the system open to people like Sherman who can come in and ‘take over’, so to speak. It was a bit of a perfect storm, with Sherman deciding to go with the Liberals and then the Liberals deciding to make these changes to the leadership contest rules.

    Chris is correct in his assessment of Sherman, I think; when I heard him say that he didn’t care which party he joined, be it Liberals, NDP, Wildrose, Alberta Party, I thought: here is a man with few principles except self-promotion. He may have his heart in the right place on certain issues but otherwise it seems like the Sherman Show rather than a principled stand on behalf of constituents.

    The Liberals took a huge risk taking him on, and I think that though they seem him as their ticket to power, it’s another example of what has plagued the federal Liberals for the past number of years – thinking they are only just the right leader, or the right policy, away from winning government. It doesn’t change the fundamental flaws.

    I feel bad for Hugh and Laurie too; though I don’t know that they would be the ones to take the Liberals to greater heights, they’ve certainly put in the time and dedication on behalf of the party.

    It will be a very interesting election. Who knows how many of the supporters Sherman signed up will actually vote. I’m curious especially about the dead ones…

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  7. Corey Hogan

    Hi All,

    The Alberta Liberal Party “Supporter System” involves significantly more crosschecks than a standard membership system.

    Because supporters have to be eligible electors, all supporters must either be matched to a voter on the Alberta list of electors or provide ID to the Elections Alberta standard to be enumerated by the Alberta Liberal Party.

    24,000 people hit this high bar and joined our 3500 members as voters. Another 1500 did not, but will be able to vote in person at one of our seven stations if they show ID.

    If there are cats or children on the list of voting supporters, that would mean there are cats or children on the list of electors – a bigger problem I’m sure we can all agree.

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  8. Corey Hogan

    To be clear, I do not believe there are cats or children on the list of electors. To date no leadership camp has provided any lists of people they wish to challenge as illegitimate supporters.

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  9. Denny

    I think it’s interesting to that while the Alberta Liberals have 20,000 “supporters” at the tail end of a leadership election the NDP has just over 9,000 members in Alberta according to today’s national media reports – years after the last leadership race. It will be interesting to see where these numbers are once the federal leadership campaign gets underway.

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  10. CalgaryGrit

    If the system is flawed, there’s nothing wrong with Hugh speaking out against it.

    But unless he has actual proof of problems, he doesn’t help himself or the party by speaking out.

    The fact that the ALP have an extra 20,000 supporters is hardly anything to complain about.

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  11. Fixed Wing Goose

    Only Hugh MacDonald would ever describe Hugh MacDonald as consistent or loyal, let alone both.

    The man is so loyal to liberalism that he’s trying to overturn a system passed by 95% of it’s members. And as for consistent, you couldn’t even get Hugh to agree on what the colour blue was two days in a row.

    Broken Winged Swann, I’ve assumed you were Hugh for a while but now I’m sure. I’m calling you out.

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  12. Liberals are Ready for Prime Time

    First, Corey, thank you for setting the facts straight!

    @Chris, sorry that Raj did not join the “Chris Laboissiere Party” or the “NDP”, you two hxlf brxined twits loved this guy when he bashed the Tories, you loved the attention and you guys got at the time and you are sour grapes and nasty now.

    Your twists as with politics are coming to a hasty end as you will NEVER be ready for primetime.

    Enjoy the big listen, big cookie, big hugs, what ever you want to call it. Your negative attacks against against Sherman, you just declared what kind of negative stand you have and how ungracious you are. Party leaders don’t talk that way, esp. if they want to grow it.

    The AP may grow, if you leave, Chris. Have a nice day.

    @Brandon, somebody, PC’s or somebody pranked the Lib. registration system. The deads, the cats and minors have been scrubbed. The pranks don’t win votes, so its a useless twit brained moot point to keep going on about it.

    Liberals are Ready for Prime Time.

    As Corey Hogan said “to date,no leadership camp has provided any lists of people they wish to challenge as illegitimate supporters”.

    Its time for the whiners, and detractors to pull up their diapers and quit crying. Grow up.

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  13. Broken Winged Swann

    Naw, if I were Hugh, I would claim that your comments are the end result of a conspiracy cooked up in the Brownlee era.

    He’s consistent and loyal to the things that make him HUGH, dude. I never said anything about ‘liberalism’, however you and the other seven permanent party members wish to define it.

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  14. Fran Irwin, Medicine Hat

    The biggest problem I have with Hugh is not his resistance to change (why NOT have Registered Supporters that pay nothing – as Corey has noted the Registered Supporter has to jump thru a more rigorous review than a Member? and under Lawrence Decore Memberships to the ALP were FREE!) No, Hugh’s biggest problem in my eyes is his contrary nature and the hard time he has given ever Leader – going back to Ken Nichol, through Kevin Taft and most especially David Swann. Now these are all incedental stories, as I have never actually witnessed Hugh’s resistence to the Party Leader – it’s always by inuendo and stories leaking outside of caucus. There is always a guy in the room who challenges authority – sometimes just for the sake of being a bit contrary. It can be a healthy thing, but in this instance, Swann is stepping down so Hugh seems to have focussed on the Party’s Membership and Directors who voted in these Leadership Rules. Seems like Raj and Bruce Paine are the only adults in the room sometimes at these ALP Leadership debates! I’m supporting Payne – but Raj Sherman would be totally acceptable in my mind. Two weeks ago I thought the same of the others, but Harvey just keeps getting more Bizarro, Laurie has done a pile on against Raj with Hugh (why isn’t she gong after Harvey?) – Raj is handling it quite well, and Bruce keeps trying to focus everyone on the big issues and ahving a civil debate. Heating up for sure – I am excited that the ALP is on tract to elect their next Leader with a turn out higher than the Wildrose Alliance’s turnout which resulted in Danielle (now there’s a REAL yawn!)

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  15. Democracy Watcher

    @Fran, somebody has to tell Hxgh and Laxrie to grow up. They are acting like first class twits. Hxgh and Laxrie are just helping the Tories get another easy ride. This is the same crxp that that David Swann and Taft had to deal with, all the time. I don’t think that they are just challenging authority, I think they feel outclassed and outshined by people who are more intelligent and effective than they are.

    I like Bruce Payne, but I don’t think he is ready to be a party leader, that one title, lies squarely with Sherman. People need to ask Lxurie and Hxgh if they will fully back the next leader and their positions must be made clear, after the leadership debate, are they going to build this party with unity, or keep it split and divided for their Txry friends? It seems horrible to say that, but there can be no other explanation for two twits whining about growing the party to PRIME TIME.

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  16. james mcdonaugh

    Really?? You think the Globe and Mail would print it if there was no proof? His supporters were signed up by a computer. By pushing the #3 you signed up the eligible voters at that coresponding phone number in 2007. That is why an enumeration is underway as we speak. Ask The Sherman Show to give you the list and do random checks in your area as a volunteer. While you are at it ask him why he was on the back bench despite his claim that he was personally “invited by the Premier to fix healthcare” His words by the way. I would also be interested in his financially backing. Phoning 1.6 Million people in a survey call costs ~ 40,000$ he says he has called 3x plus, add the telephone town halls (2), the Truck with full vinyl and a $7500.00 fee just to participate….. How is the money he has raised paying for it? It is sad that this group of “New Liberals” only wants openess and transparency from the conservatives.

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  17. Democracy Watcher

    Cheer up little buckaroo. Sherman has signed up most of the supporters before the demon dial. I personally have signed up almost 125 for him, real people, no cats or dead people or minors, I assure you. There are many, many others who have done the same. Sherman is not an 8-4 armchair politician like most of the ones in AB. This guys works from 7 am to 10pm everyday. He is a work horse and does not wait for the votes to come. He has worked tirelessly travelling the province signing up people. Cheer up guys, the Liberal party is growing, its not a time to be sour or jealous. Let’s come together and grow the Liberals, the opportunity has practically landed in your laps and still ur a whinin’. Cheer up little guy. Be happy we might an opposition that will in range to strike at the Tories. It can’t be that bad!

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  18. Democracy Watcher

    @James McDonaugh, a reasonable person would have thought and at least questioned how Gary Mar has an entire bus to himself. Mar and show have demon dialed several times already, almost 5 or 6. Now where do you get off complaining Sherman having a truck, while Gary Mar has a bus, give your hollow cranium a shake spud! The Liberals are growing, if you can’t handle that, go join the NDP or Tories. You are a Raj hater, for the sake of hating. If you got the bxlls, go show your face and to talk to him with your own mouth, at any of the forums.

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  19. Allison Howlett

    Was Raj working from 7-10 when he went on a vacation to Arizona for four days in the middle of the campaign? Admittedly Sherman has a star factor, he is probably the best known throughout the province but does that make him the best leader? At the most recent debate in Edmonton last night he said he supported a Wildrose candidate in fort mac. How can we trust this guy to lead the party forward and attract candidates with this kind of attitude? Sherman is the one of two candidates to not run in an election as an Alberta Liberal. He was the only candidate to vote FOR health care premiums, and for the Alberta Land Stewardship Act. Personally I take issue with that. Raj needs more experience and needs to display more loyalty before I trust him as leader. As far as Hugh goes, have some respect for the man. Whether you agree with him or not he is one of the hardest working MLA’s in the province. That is a fact. I doubt he would have brought this forward without of talking to Mr. Hogan and the rest of ALP office first. Perhaps Mr. Hogan could confirm this? I believe Hugh to be a man of integrity and hard work and doubt he would “air the dirty laundry” of the party unless he felt it was the only way to clean it.

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  20. Democracy Watcher

    Hey Alison, your sounding like a loony wingnut! He said he supported the STAND taken by Guy Boutlier, the way he stuck up for his constituents, because that is what he did, he stood up for SENIORS and got bounced like Guy did, where were the LIberals when that happened? for doing the RIGHT thing! When they got rid of healthcare premiums, they also took some $1.25B of healthcare away from the system. I agree with premiums, it makes people share in some of the responsibility and we will get more healthcare back. Hugh WAS a man of integrity. He showed extremely poor judgement by airing dirty laundry to the Media. He just showed he is not fit to lead anything, let alone bovine. He should have had an internal discussion with party officials and Sherman first, before even getting the facts straight. BTW, I signed up 200 real alive human beings for the Liberals, and these are people who DID vote for PC’s, since the start of time. So give your hollow cranium a shake. This party has grown, with the right guy, Raj, taking the ALP to ALL of Alberta, for ALL Albertans. The ALP is growing massively. Time for the whiners and losers to grow up and be a part of a growing party that Albertans are very interested in. Some of you just don’t Raj him self period. You can’ handle his rapid rise and therefore any excuse you can find, you will hurl. Welcome to politics. Its time to split the Torie’s vote. Are you whiners and losers on board or is fulfilling your damaged ego’s more important?

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  21. Robert Gerard

    Sadly, alberta’s Liberal rump seems hell bent on consigning themselves to the dustbin of history! Hugh has always been more about self-aggrandizing stunts rather than substance. Or more precisely, he has never let substance get in the way of a stunt. Like asking for every Enron document in the government’s possession knowing full well 99% of the documents were just news clippings. Or how about linking small bonuses paid to mid-level civil servants who excelled at their jobs to the obscene pots of taxpayer money paid out of Wall Streets robber barons. That really endeared the party to its Edmonton base. Cosntant infighting with the two-member NDP caucus rather than the Tory juggernaut is another example of the party’s through-the-looking-glass take on political reality in Alberta. Don’t let the door hit ya, guys! And woudl the last person leaving the phone booth, check for a quarter and a dime!

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  22. @Gerard

    @gerard, I am fully convinced that somebody, I won’t name them are actually PC plants, in both left parties, intentionally keeping it down and just keeping up some window dressing shows to fool the public into thinking that there is a real opposition TRULY looking out for Albertan. There really cannot be any other explanation for a lack of huge gain or political assault on the Tories for 40 yrs. Sherman has outclassed them and damaged their EGOs, and this is evident from the personalized attacks on anything they can think of. These are contenders want to lead, but in 14yrs, they have never grown the party, but fought with every Liberal Leader that has come along and scared off other quality people like Dave Taylor, who now sits in a political prison box in the AP party. The only explanation that makes sense for this infighting and divisional behavior, is that either someobody is a Tory plant, or these EGOS and self entitlement to keep the seats warm are far bigger than the vision of the party and the vision of Alberta. Either way, it does not look good. I hope the next leader strong arms and dresses down any divisive buffoon, in front of the entire party. The Tory Juggernaut can be in the Liberal’s striking distance, if this pablum pukers get their baggage and EGOs out the door, and put Albertans and the party first, rather than themselves. That is Leadership!

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  23. Allison Howlett

    I think that it is really funny that we talk about how the liberal base has expanded and blown up because Raj is in the leadership and under him we will defeat the conservative “juggernaught” yet these same people alienate party loyalists by claiming some of their hardest working members and mla’s are classless, and without integrity. Hugh has held his leaders in the house to a high standard. When you spend endless hour in the library researching policy, meeting with constituents and looking for every penny available to better serve Alberta and your boss goes on vacation which one of us wouldn’t challenge that leadership? The bottom line is this; if you want someone who will work tirelessly for the ALP to build us back to an authentic realistic option then vote for Hugh. If you believe that Raj can win the next election based on his image and star power and that the people of Alberta connect with him then vote Raj. For me the choice is clear. Hugh is the leader to move the ALP forward.

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  24. @Alison

    First of all, party timers have to set their entitled egos aside and have to quit tooting their horns. Leave the pride at the door. Every tool should be used to build a party. Sherman will win the next election not on star power but on intelligence, good policies and high appeal to ALL albertans. Hugh had 14 yrs to grow the party. Now that Raj has come, people cant stand a star performer. Raj has my vote. Hugh as had 14 yrs to be realistic. Lots of hard work, but the Tories have got a free ride.

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  25. Chris Yakimak

    Wondering how Chris Labossiere can feel happy with himself from attending the 2009 PC convention…then going Liberal…then going to the Alberta party (suicide move). Perhaps he needs to look in his mirror and do an act of contrition for his own misdoings before criticizing anyone else.

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  26. Stella

    Well, the rumour I heard was that the PC party was making big donations to the Sherman campaign so he will win and be the final straw that will break the good old Liberal party’s back for ever. I think that the Libs will finally collapse completely under an All-about-Sherman leadership. That will be one “opposition” party down, 3 to go for the PCs

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  27. @Stella

    Why would the PC’s give a red cent to Sherman, they hate his guts!?!?! Just ask Ron Liepert, Gene, or any of them… Did you watch anything since last Nov.? Sherman has been bashing the Tories relentlessly since then until now! Tighten up the loose screws upstairs lady. Sherman has brought almost 20,000 supporters, anybody with the ability to count, understands that is positive news. This comment is the most hilarious and ridiculous one I have EVER heard! Stella, don’t be afraid of change and growth, step back and learn to accept that the Liberals are coming back and growing. Until Raj had come along, the Liberals were used to losing and being small. Some of the Libs are so used to it, that they think something is wrong, if they are growing with new ideas. Let’s step out of the mental prison people, the Libs are back!

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  28. Pingback: raj sherman sweeps alberta liberal leadership poll. | daveberta.ca - Alberta politics blog

  29. Pingback: what’s next for raj sherman and the alberta liberals? | daveberta.ca - Alberta politics blog

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