Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Liberal "Convention"

I'd largely echo what Jeff has to say about the NDP Convention as it relates to the eventual Liberal leadership. The Liberals would be wise to poach a few of the ideas from the NDP, particularly the made for TV flare, as well a centralized location to give an old style convention flavour. While it may seem like early days, the Liberal Party would be wise to start fleshing out the nuts and bolts of our leadership race now, because our format presents unique challenges.

The online voting component of the NDP race was a utter failure, both in terms of abysmal turnout, as well as the process being hijacked. Given the Liberals will be conducting an "open primary" across the country on a single day (I still hold out hope we reconsider and stagger), we are looking at a herculean organizational challenge, particularly when it comes to polling stations. A robust online option will cut costs and organization, meaning we can have fewer concrete polling stations in ridings, a more manageable undertaking. As well, the concept of "open" should embrace as many ways to participate as possible, there is much room to fully realize the potential of online inclusion.

While the Liberals will have an open primary, I maintain it is important that the eventual winner achieve a majority mandate from voters. I would support a preferential ballot, it isn't perfect, but with only "one" voting opportunity, Liberals should see the wisdom of perceived unity coming out of our exercise. It is quite conceivable, if we just have one raw vote, we will end up with someone taking the helm with less than 50% of support, perhaps not a big issue, but why not canvass further to find a more unified choice in the end? I see little downside in having voters give preferential choice, although I would argue this should be the sole option. Liberals could still have live voting at the Convention venue, but it should also be preferential and we merely read each "ballot" result in successive fashion, creating an air of anticipation as the process unfolds. To my mind, a preferential component creates some intrigue as we potentially wait between announcements to see how the results shake out.

I also agree with the notion that candidates should have speeches the night prior to the actual vote and the notion of riding meet ups to watch the proceedings, a no brainer to enhance participation. I'd even push for a vote eve DEBATE, held live in the convention hall, which would garner national coverage and create much high stakes drama, quite a visual spectacle, loud and boisterous. As well, in this way, you give the Convention venue added importance, a centralized place of action, to make up for the lack of traditional elements.

Now, let's just hope we actually have a competitive race...

10 comments:

Jeff Jedras said...

Under the constitution as amended in Vancouver (weighted one member one vote) and Ottawa (allowing supporters to vote) the current system is indeed a preferential ballot and one day (maybe one weekend, depending on how liberally you read it). I'm actually not sure if allowing live ballot by ballot voting in addition to preferential balloting, as the NDP did, is something the executive has the discretion within the current rules, or if it would require constitutional change. I'd like to see it as an option though, for the drama effect, and being able to react to circumstance.

Anyway, no rule change needed for a preferential ballot; it's the status quo. The method of voting though (online, paper, etc.) is still to be determined.

Steve V said...

When I said live, I meant we can vote at Convention itself, once, not in sequence like some dippers.

Thanks for clarification, preferential it is.

Loraine Lamontagne said...

What made the show attractive was its timing, what felt like spring in Toronto last weekend, renewal, blah, blah, and the choice of Mulcair.

The four rounds I felt was a bad joke. There is probably something that I don't understand about the preferrential system, but with more than 12,000 votes between Mulcair and Topp on the last ballot where 59,210 votes were counted, 55,659 of which were advanced ballots, I believe that the NDP might as well have tallied up the advance ballots and released the full numbers right off the bat on Saturday morning. It may have attracted more people to vote online to pick it up from there. I feel that these people wasted my time and created a suspense as false as those created on reality shows. There has to be some seriousness in politics; the elected members of these parties decide what to do with half the money I earn after all.

You and I love politics but I would wait to see the numbers before concluding that the NDP convention was a success. What made it a success was the choice of Mulcair, a very good politician.

Steve V said...

I'm not sure the voting was a success, as I said it was an "utter failure". IF, the vote was quick, then I'm hard pressed to find a downside.

Loraine Lamontagne said...

I very much like the idea of a debate the night before. Few people, even those who follow politics closely, watched any of the NPD debates, and few media reported on it or its content. What I got from the race was that the NDP doesn't have any ideas.

To push liberal ideas and the candidates' agenda a debate on the eve of the vote would be ideal. It should even be more interesting than the vote. I don't know a thing about the technology, but mail in ballots should be discouraged and, maybe online voting could take place overnight and into the morning after the debate - a long period for members to submit their vote, and a longer period to fix problems, if any, cross our fingers! I'm sure you smart young ones will come up with something. There's gotta be something better than what I saw this weekend.

Omar said...

Hey, where did your LPC marijuana leaf go? Not down with the green any more?

Steve V said...

Loraine

Nobody pays attention to these races until the last week, so the idea of a last day debate, when everyone is assembled and engaged, I think it would create a lot buzz!

Omar

Just mixing it up. Particularly with Mulcair's regressive view, the legalization idea should find appeal.

Omar said...

It will be interesting to see what else Mr Mulcair is regressive on. I think the NDP made a mistake making this guy leader, but what do I know.

Steve V said...

I don't see PM Mulcair here, as Rob Silver pointed out yesterday, it probably means a status quo situation when it shakes out, but what do I know :)

Jerry Prager said...

Any internal party mechanism for members to refine convention rules and presentation you can use to coordinate that job there Steve? If you see a need, they say, fill it, Giver er,