Alberta Politics

alberta liberals special general meeting.

The Alberta Liberal Party will be holding a Special General Meeting on Sunday,  May 29 to discuss a series of structural changes around how that Party selects its candidates and leader. The Liberals are facing many challenges that have been around for decades and while these proposals may not be a silver bullet to solve their problem, they may be a move in the right direction.  

Opening Nomination Contests to All Albertans
Allowing any Albertan who registers as a supporter of the Alberta Liberal Party to vote in the Party’s contest for nominations, commencing in 2013 for all unheld constituencies and upon the retiring of the incumbent MLA for all held constituencies. 

With a potential election call expected as early as November 2011, this proposal as it is currently written would not take effect until after the next election. There is another proposal that would have this and the next policy change implemented immediately (see below). 

A close look at the wording of this proposal reveals that incumbent MLAs are excluded from this open change. Even with only 8 incumbent Liberal MLAs (including former Edmonton-Meadowlark PC MLA  Raj Sherman ) and nomination contests already having been held to replace retiring  Calgary-Varsity MLA  Harry Chase and  Edmonton-Riverview MLA  Kevin Taft, it makes little sense to not allow constituencies with incumbent Liberal MLAs running for re-election to participate in this new party structure.

Opening Leadership Contests to All Albertans
Allowing any Albertan who registers as a supporter of the Alberta Liberal Party to vote in the Party’s leadership contests, commencing in 2013.  

A lot of people will heckle that only a Party that cannot sell large swaths of memberships would do this, and in this case they would be correct, which is why I believe this is a good idea. Opening leadership contests up to “primary style” voting could draw in new blood and new candidates, something the Liberal Party desperately needs.

In a recent column in the Globe & Mail,  John Ibbitson  recommended that the Liberal Party of Canada make a similar move to open its leadership contests beyond its dwindling membership base.

Expediting Implementation of Open Contests
Speeding up the implementation of the previous two resolutions to commence immediately.  

A good move. See  my comments above for caveats.

Weighted One-Member-One-Vote
Moving from a pure one-member (or one-supporter) one-vote system for deciding leadership contests to one weighed by constituency, where each constituency gets up to 200 points. 

There are good arguments for and against this type of weighted system. A weighed system was used in the recent BC Liberal leadership contest that selected  Christy Clark. The idea behind the weighed system is to increase the equity between voters in constituencies with heavy support and low  support, which would be urban versus rural constituencies in this case.

What do you think?

6 replies on “alberta liberals special general meeting.”

Great blog post first off.

Second, opening the nomination and leadership to anyone who purchases a membership is fantastic. Not only will this bring in new blood, but the average joe can take a more direct and advanced approach to making his voice, and his community’s voice heard.

Far too often in rural constituencies, the nomination process IS the election. Once a person is nominated, it is often though that he will win the election regardless of the voter turnout; thus a lower voter turnout takes place. This will engage people to take a larger role in not only the nomination process, but the election process as a whole.

Peter Skinner
Edmonton Tek

Party leadership contests are too open as it is. The process becomes a farad without baic restrictions.

If a longtime established political party like the Liberals feels it is not resonating with Albertans, and wishes to reform itself into a party that welcomes any citizen to be involved in it, then the primary concept of registering as a supporter makes sense. This does give the Liberals an address list of potential supporters so constituency organizations have a base to recruit supporters to put a campaign together. Do not use the weighting concept, that would make supporters in strong ridings superior to other supporters. This shows your “new open” concept
for citizen participation is a farce. No system is perfect in design, but for a party short on money, trying to welcome new people in they should remain consistent
to the concept that all supporters have equal value.

My argument in favoru of weighted votes for leaders is this: People vote on the basis of the leader, and the party, not the local candidate. If you have the opportunity to use your leadership selection process to weed out potential leaders whose support is limited to certain geographical areas, you’re stupid not to.

If you’ve recovered from the evening celebration up in Edmonton for your guys’ leadership, you should consider coming down to Calgary for Sunday morning as an observer. It should be an interesting day.

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