Alberta Liberal Party Leadership Raj Sherman

Delaying Alberta Liberal leadership vote until 2017 might break the party’s bylaws


The Alberta Liberals have decided to postpone the selection of their next party leader until spring 2017. The party had originally scheduled to hold a leadership vote in April 2016.

David Swann Liberal MLA Calgary-Mountain View

David Swann

The only current Liberal MLA, Calgary’s David Swann, has declined to seek the permanent job. Dr. Swann was first elected as MLA in 2004 and served as leader from 2008 to 2010 before taking over as interim leader after Raj Sherman’s resignation in January 2015.

There is question whether delaying the leadership violates the Alberta Liberal Party’s bylaws, which state:

5.4 In the event the Leadership becomes vacant for any cause the Board of Directors shall either, in its absolute discretion:

a) convene to call a Leadership Convention, or

b) convene to appoint an interim leader of the Party for a period of time not to exceed one (1) year during which period of interim leadership the Board of Directors shall call a Leadership Convention to be held prior to the conclusion of the term of interim leadership.

Liberal Party did amend their bylaws at a meeting held in late 2015 but the list of proposed amendments on their website are unclear whether this section was changed. If the section was not changed, the party would have already broken its bylaws if Dr. Swann’s interim leadership exceeded the one year period (which will take place on January 27, 2016).

It is also unclear if there are any consequences for violating the party’s bylaws.

Regardless of the bylaws, the party’s executive board is reported to have endorsed Dr. Swann’s continued role as interim leader until spring 2017.

Delaying the vote is probably a good idea for the Liberals, as it appears unlikely the party could attract many serious candidates to contest an April 2016 leadership race.

The Liberals formed the official opposition from 1993 until 2012, when a significant percentage of their supporters migrated to Alison Redford’s Progressive Conservatives and later to Rachel Notley’s New Democrats.

Despite recent Alberta breakthroughs in the October 19, 2015 federal election, the provincial party does not appear to have benefited from Justin Trudeau‘s popularity.

New voting system

The Liberals abandoned the ‘open membership system’ that was used to select Dr. Sherman in the 2011 leadership vote. Under the open system, any Albertan who provided the party with their name and contact information could vote for a leadership candidate without having to actually purchase a membership.

Although more than 27,000 members were eligible to vote in the 2011 leadership contest, only 8,640 actually participated in the vote.

Under the new system proposed at the party’s meeting in late 2015:

a. Each electoral district in the province of Alberta is allocated one point for each eligible vote cast, to a maximum as determined by the Board of Directors.

b. Should the number of eligible persons who cast ballots in the leadership vote in an electoral division exceed the number of points allocated, the points allocated to the electoral division are allocated to each leadership candidate on the basis of the 17 ratio the number of the votes received by that leadership candidate to the total number of votes counted.

c. Should the number of eligible persons who cast ballots in the leadership election not exceed the number of points allocated to the electoral division each vote for a leadership candidate shall be one point awarded to the leadership candidate.

d. The total number of points allocated to each leadership candidate from all electoral divisions in Alberta are added to produce a total for the “provincial count”

But changing the voting system and the date of the leadership race still does not solve the Liberal Party’s problem of attracting credible candidates.

I expect the Liberal Party executives are hoping that disillusion with the NDP government in one year could lead to a resurgence in party support, which, given the unexpected twists in Alberta politics over the past year, might be their best strategy.

One prominent former Liberal MLA who ran in the party’s 2011 leadership race appears unlikely to take up her party’s banner again. Laurie Blakeman, who represented Edmonton-Centre as a Liberal MLA from 1997 to 2015 posted her feelings about the Liberal Party officials on Twitter today.

One thought on “Delaying Alberta Liberal leadership vote until 2017 might break the party’s bylaws

  1. Julie Ali

    I imagine that the NDP folks will not be in power in the next provincial election unfortunately. They haven’t done what they promised for families. They have ignored the problems in the continuing care system and the disillusion is beginning among supporters like myself. I see no reason for the delay by the Health Minister in implementing legislative changes that are necessary such as resident rights, protections for whistleblowers and revamping of auditing, public reporting of audits which should remain on a permanent public website plus the value for our dollars analysis.
    We have been paying big bucks for private for profit and not for profit corporations in Alberta to provide us with continuing care services that should (in my opinion) remain in the public domain Why are we providing grants to these companies for infrastructure we do not own? Why are there P3 arrangements at SL4 sites where AHS is providing administrative support? Why –if these businesses are private –aren’t they working independently of government and seeking customers as per a free market economy? Why are we providing a captive group of residents to these private continuing care facilities, paying for administrative staff all without any public accountability of the value for our dollars by AHS?

    The NDP folks in government were elected by us to make change happen in health care, seniors issues and in the continuing care system. They won’t be around if they do not do these critical changes. I believe that the Liberals might make gains in Alberta. Anything is possible. We just need a good leader with intelligence who can attract families; Mr. Justin Trudeau has done this miracle at the federal level–why not someone similar in Alberta? I believed Rachel Notley would make a good premier and yet here she is without any deliverables in continuing care. I also believe if she doesn’t keep the promises in continuing care, we will have a Liberal Party resurgence.

    http://daveberta.ca/2016/01/alberta-liberal-leadership-race-2017/

    I expect the Liberal Party executives are hoping that disillusion with the NDP government in one year could lead to a resurgence in party support, which, given the unexpected twists in Alberta politics over the past year, might be their best strategy.

    Reply

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