Party conventions allow ordinary voters who have paid a few dollars for a party membership to have influence on the direction and policies of political parties. And there is plenty of opportunity coming up for that kind of direct involvement.
The Liberals are set to hold an “extraordinary convention” on June 18, by means of teleconference, in order to chart the course for the new leadership. If you’re a Liberal supporter who wants a permanent leader sooner rather than later, or one who would rather it be held off for a couple of years to allow for a rebuilding, this is your chance to have your say.
The Conservatives are having a policy convention next month, and there is already some controversy over how the voting system for future policy will unfold. One of the tenets of the party merger was that there would be a weighted system so that larger Reform Party ridings in the West wouldn't swamp smaller formerly Progressive Conservative ridings in the East. This especially goes for Quebec, where another proposal is being handed down that would see that a riding association have a minimum of 100 members before a vote under the weighted system is directed. These are important decisions about how the party will make its decisions. Peter MacKay sent out a letter to party members over the disputed vote-weighting system, and here is a list of several of the propositions being brought forward, including establishing a youth wing of the party and a 21-day “cooling-off” period for new members to keep shenanigans out of party processes.
Why is this important? The only real “democratic reform” that needs to happen in Canada is for people to get involved in the parties at the grassroots level. These conventions demonstrate how these systems are effective. I am reminded of an old roommate of mine, who was a first nations Liberal Party member. She and other first nations Liberals designed a policy that made it to the convention floor, was voted on and adopted by the party, and within two years it was government policy (when the Liberals were in power). That is the power that grassroots members have, yet most people don’t know about it. This kind of political engagement needs to happen. With these conventions coming up, more people, especially those in the queer communities, have the opportunity to get involved and have their voices and issues heard.
Update: The NDP is also having a convention, June 17–19 in Vancouver. My apologies for overlooking it.
Elsewhere, another new Quebec NDP MP has been caught padding his resumé, and it appears that this one did so when he previously ran for mayor of a Montreal borough. As of yet, no staffers have been blamed.
Paul Wells discusses the future of the Supreme Court under Harper, illustrating with the Insite trial. He figures that even if Harper appoints five more justices in the next five years, they may not end up supporting his positions any more than the previous appointees have (or rather, haven’t).
Tony Clement is sharpening his axe when it comes to finding savings in the public service.
And NDP MP Denise Savoie is the first opposition MP – and woman – vying for the job of Commons Speaker in the upcoming Parliament.