I have some serious problems with this open ended leadership question. As Jeff points out, by the time we vote on the constitutional amendments, it will leave about FOUR months for the leadership, if we reject the proposal. That strikes me as lunacy to be frank, given the circumstances and I'm actually quite suspicious of motives for those advocating we plow ahead regardless. I understand that the Constitution should be adhered to, but since this stipulation was just implemented, it's hardly a traditional core tenet that can't possibly be amended. In other words, I'm okay with amending, IF we have a vote, because this 5 month stipulation was borne of the same mechanism, it's fair, it's democratic, it respects grassroots want. Unlike Peter's excellent detailed analysis, past precedents don't concern me in this instance, I'm focused on this circumstance solely, just as I did in 2008.
Here's the rub for me. If I have to vote on delaying the leadership WITHOUT an alternative date, it creates a whole new host of problems. Just as I think a quick vote is counter productive to renewal, I also think TWO years is far to long to wait, this scenario will leave a tremendous void where Liberals simply spin their wheels. I have advocated something around June 2012, because that gives ample time for digestion, allows a bigger group to consider, allows an orderly, organic process, where we have a deep debate and many voices. One year seems a healthy compromise to the two extremes, and I'm sensing the two year option is losing favour with some initial advocates: people recognizing that while we need to slow down, we don't need to grind to a halt. With the above in mind, I want a question that goes something like the following:
"Do you favour delaying the leadership vote, amending the party Constitution, and in turn support replacing the previous date with June 2012?"
We can quibble about exact timing, but my point is I want to decide, is it November OR, not November or "whenever some people decide it's best". The reason, if I have to chose between a unhealthy snap vote and an equally unhealthy two year delay, I might just favour getting it over with to be honest. I suspect I'm not alone in this logical conclusion, so it is IMPERATIVE that our party leadership flesh this question out, make it specific, give us an either/or, there is no other reasonable way.
In addition, this kind of definitive question puts all the speculation to rest, Liberals know that if they delay the vote, then it's going to be an alternative date, no mushy speculation, no unknowns, BLACK AND WHITE, let's get on with it already. If we don't have an alternative date, then energy is continually consumed with dates, timing, we simply don't need to delay that decision. There is nothing precluding this "extraordinary convention" from having a clear, concise list of options. You could even have a two stage, where you vote on whether to amend the Constitution, then a preference for the alternative date. That suggestion isn't complicated, YES/NO on amending, then X one, two, or three date options, thank you grassroots Liberal, let's tally it up and move forward.
We can amend the Constitution, particularly if we use a democratic mechanism, I'm not bent out of shape with that proposal at all. But, I'm increasingly uncomfortable with the ambiguity here, because we have mere days to register and we have all these questions remaining. Really- and I don't mean to be trite here- it's not that complicated, at least what we are being asked. If you want the cleanest, tidiest solution, then the amendment vote MUST be accompanied by a alternative date question, the two are forever MARRIED and both have to be addressed together. If we are merely voting on whether to delay or not, with a real possibility that delay would equate to two years, I'm not sure what I would do, and it's really unfortunate if it comes down to that blurry picture. Surely, we can do better.