Sunday, December 7, 2008

The FAIREST approach for Liberal leadership

My expert solution that surely everyone would agree with is laid out below. So with LeBlanc’s exit the possibilities for the way forward have narrowed. Let me first say that I’m disappointed to see a race with only two contenders, I think we could have benefited from more, not less voices in this race (I think 4 or 5 would have been a good number). But I guess Dominic LeBlanc has become the John Edwards of this race (absent the torrid affair), bowing to the reality that he couldn’t win so dropped out early in the race. Has he been promised a jet ski by Rae or Ignatieff in order to get his endorsement? I’m sure we’ll know for sure quite soon.

But this leaves us with two key issues to resolve going forward:
- What should be the future of Stephane Dion’s leadership?
- How do we select the leader in time for the Jan. 26 return of Parliament as both Rae and Ignatieff seem to want?

Here is my gold 4 point solution that should satisfy EVERYONE.

1) Stéphane Dion stays on as interim leader until the permanent leader is selected in 3rd or 4th week of January when a permanent leader is elected.

The man has made many mistakes (which he has admitted to), but he has given the past decade of his life to this party and his whole life has fought hard for this country. He deserves some respect for what he has done. One could certainly make the case that anyone else might not have been able to put together the coalition that ultimately caused Harper to back down on public financing and leaves us with a chance to form government at the end of January. If we are going to elect a permanent leader in January anyway it seems unnecessarily cruel, not to mention ineffective to push him out sooner and replace him with an interim leader for a matter of 5-7 weeks. Parliament is not in session at this time and the organizational hassles involved in switching leaders for such a short amount of time simply because many people are upset right now just doesn’t make sense. I hope caucus can take the more rational and respectful approach here.

2) Hold at least 4 nationally televised debates between Ignatieff and Rae. Hopefully the major networks will cover them (the times and dates should be arranged for maximum coverage and ratings) and this will be an excellent way to get coverage for our party while Parliament is not in session (which is always a tough time to get the media to pay attention to the opposition)

3) Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff both release full platforms very early in the new year. I hope these platforms detail what they would do in their first 100 days as Prime Minister since that still remains a possibility should the coalition take power at the end of January or if we get an election should the government fall at that time where either will be running to be PM.

I will note that neither have answers my questions yet though! I have gotten assurances from the Rae camp that the answers will be coming soon and the Ignatieff contact said he “is trying to get answers to your(my) questions” so hopefully both will be up here soon.

4) Electing the leader through a One Member One Vote procedure that protects smaller ridings and the voices of youth, seniors, women and Aboriginals.

Here is how I envision this working:
- A date (or it can even last a whole weekend) is set in the 3rd or 4th week of January for when voting will take place by ALL Liberal members who have signed up ONE WEEK before the vote. Given that the dynamics of the leadership race have radically changed it seems unfair to set an earlier cut off. Everyone was under the impression the membership cut off was going to be February 6th so setting it for mid January seems pretty fair.
- Voting is done online, by phone or in person (I think we should follow whatever is done by other parties who use OMOV)
- Each riding is apportioned 100 points based on the percentage of votes received for each candidate in each riding. 50 points in each riding go to male members’ votes, 50 points go to female members, 33 for youth, 7 for Aboriginals, etc…. so that it matches EXACTLY the proportions that WOULD HAVE been given delegate spots to vote at the convention in Vancouver.
- Whoever has the most points “wins” and the other agrees to drop off the ballot for Super Weekend so the other is acclaimed in Vancouver at the leadership convention as per our constitution.
- That winner is appointed interim leader by the national executive as Stephane Dion steps down follwing the vote of the membership.

When we change the rules mid-stream I think it’s important that no groups voices are weakened as a result and this ensures that doesn’t happen. Some people may have problems with this arrangement for allocating votes (and in fact I’d hazard to guess it won’t even happen), but if this isn’t what happens I imagine it will end up the case that a smaller percentage of women, Aboriginals and youth will have a say in the leader than would have happened under the originals rules. This could in turn upset the Commissions. For instance, I recall the YLC opposed OMOV vote last time unless there was an agreement to apportion a certain percentage of votes for youth.

So this proposal doesn’t favour any camp over the other, and important to me, doesn’t weaken the voices of women, Aboriginals, seniors, or youth compared to the representation they would have had if we elected the leader in Vancouver as originally planned. I hope many others would agree with this modest, fair proposal.

It’s essential this be done right. This party needs unity which means having a procedure where EVERYONE accepts the results as an entirely fair way to decide the leader and so that Liberals can get behind the leader without any supporter of the other candidate or neutral Liberals having misgivings about how the race was done.

UPDATE 10:10 PM: Rumour is Ignatieff gave the jet ski to LeBlanc up front (as yet unconfirmed). Also, it appears that Jeff (BC'er in Toronto) would agree with my proposal

UPDATE 2: I was unaware it was possible to move up the DSMs for Super Weekend to mid January and appoint an interim leader then based on the results, but if it is possible to do that and still have a bit of flexibility on membership cut-offs (for the reasons I outlined above, ideally it should be a week before the voting) then I think that would be a fair solution as well since all members get to vote as DSMs. I still think what I proposed here is fully in line with the constitution but moving up DSMs would be more consistent I suppose. If you agree with that option OR the one I proposed in this post, vote Yes for the poll in the top right corner.

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The Pontificator said...


This type of democratic process is the only legitimate way for the party to proceed.

Liberals should be outraged at the mere thought of caucus usurping their rights to choose a leader.

jaycurrie said...

Danielle, you've been bypassed. The Jackal is on the plane to Jamaica and Iggy has kicked ass in Canadian Politics. To wit, the Caucus has had enough. Dion resigns either tomorrow or Wednesday. Iggy is anointed by Caucus. Done deal...who needs democracy, we're the Liberal Party.

Oh, and that means the Coalition is dead bycause the NDP are hardly eager for Iggy as PM.

Danielle Takacs said...

Jay you may want to wait for any official word. Remember the John Ivison mistake? I'm surprised so many people are jumping on a bunch of unconfirmed reports.

I was gonna do this post before I even knew LeBlanc dropped out and all this new speculation of the race being over began. I think it's good for Liberals to voice their opinions on how to resolve the leadership issue and I'll wait for any official word before commenting on unconfirmed media reports.

Dylan said...

The NDP might not want Iggy as PM, but he sure would have been Finance or Foreign Affairs in a Coalition government - two extremely high profile positions with a lot of clout.

As for the leadership process Danielle, I like it. I don't know if I'd vote in favour of it on your poll since I think Dion is better out of the picture sooner rather than later.

Goodale or Kennedy for interim leader!

Jason Cherniak said...

I don't see why you think a OMOV system can be pulled out of thin air when it was rejected at the last convention. Let's just move up DSMs before the end of Jan and accept the result, with ex-officios being counted as well.

Danielle Takacs said...

Jason I wrote this BEFORE I was aware it was possible to move up DSMs. I thought the only possibility was just national exec appointing the interim leader and that it was not possible to have DSMs in Jan to guide the exec's decision. What I proposed was an informal non-binding means of consultation that could take place first. The proposal mirrored the delegate system as much as possible and would likely arrive at a virtually identical result to a Super Weekend of DSMs (presumably ex-officios could also vote as part of that process).

But as you can see I had updated my post already and stated I would support exactly what you propose.