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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