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?