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Monday, February 23, 2009

Progressive Conservative Convention: The path not taken

Most people will remember the 2009 Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario convention for the Logoreopening of the leadership race question. There was a surprisingly large faction within the party that wished to regress back to the delegated leadership convention. Even a federal cabinet minister spoke in favour of the potential abuses inherent in a delegated leadership convention.

But this isn’t what I will remember the convention for. No, I will remember this past weekend for a missed opportunity to advance forward and turn the PC Party into a truly grassroots party. Friday I wrote a quick blog post mentioning the potential decline of delegated conventions in the party. Sadly this optimistic prediction was not to become true.

There were several constitutional amendments that would have either taken power away from the delegated conventions or ended such conventions completely. The most significant proposal was to make leadership reviews operate the same way that leadership races operate. Every riding would have been given a vote per member up to 100 votes. If the riding association has more than 100 members then the votes will be divided by the percentages; that is if a 200 member riding had cast 120 ‘yes’ votes in a leadership review, that would equal 60 votes from the riding.

Most arguments you can use in favour of this system for a leadership race apply to a leadership review. It is more democratic, it is a more open process, and it puts more power into the hands of the grassroots versus the party elites. The delegated convention system for leadership reviews heavily favours party elites, and in most cases such elites have an interest in keeping the current leader. Even if the membership is unhappy with the leader, party elites will tend to support the leader because they rely on him/her for their career or influence. By giving more power to the grassroots you get a truer sense of the leader’s popularity in the party and their viability in the next election.

Unfortunately this amendment failed miserably. To have passed it would have needed 66% but I don’t think it even made it to 50%. It was not like this was a crazy maverick proposal. I talked to several members of caucus who were supportive of the idea. Nor was this a screw John Tory motion. Alex Sloat who proposed the idea (and has contributed some posts to this blog) made sure to point out that this was not meant as an attack on the leader.

I suppose there is always next year. If I propose this motion every year eventually they will pass it just to prevent me from proposing it every year.

(Yes I know writing a blog post about a failed constitutional amendment to a provincial party constitution makes me a huge dork. But you read it and that makes you a dork as well.)

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on February 23, 2009 | Permalink


When it come's the the PCs, I think Publius of GCH has their number:

Tory's pitch is that he'll do what the Dalt is doing, but do it better. The Dalt is no intellectual superstar, but he expresses a kind of vague Liberal aspiration about being more competent than the NDP, but less stingy than the Tories. Having comfortably occupied the middle ground of smug Ontario sensibilities, the Liberals need to be challenged in their assumptions. Tory's Tories are just affirming that the other guy is basically right, no matter how Left he becomes. It's change you can't believe in, because it'll never happen.

Posted by: Kalim Kassam | 2009-02-24 12:19:33 AM

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