Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Interim Rules Fair - Senator's Reduced Say is Not

From the CBC:

Liberal brass have approved rules which seemed designed to prevent Bob Rae and Ralph Goodale from becoming interim leader of the decimated party.

The party's national board has issued a final statement outlining a plan to defer a vote for permanent leader for up to two years and laying down conditions for choosing an acting leader in the interim.

The final plan, obtained by The Canadian Press, is not much different than a draft plan leaked Monday, which seemed designed to prevent Toronto MP Rae from becoming interim leader if he has full-time leadership ambitions.

But the final plan now stipulates that the interim leader must be bilingual, whereas the draft had suggested a unilingual leader would be acceptable provided that a "native francophone" deputy was appointed.
These, to me, are fair rules. The Board is requiring that whoever leads the Party in the interim, someone they vote on, has to agree to conditions that take away their power to talk about something the membership has not had a chance to vote on (if people want a merger, then they can vote for a pro-merger person in the leadership race), as well as being representative and communicative of the Party's caucus, in both native languages. Alongside keeping them out of the permanent running, the restrictions are fair and reasonable. They do preclude certain qualified people, however, either for reasons of ambition or communication, but I think it makes sense.

However, my sticking point is this:
The board also now says that Liberal senators, who were excluded in the draft plan, will be given a partial say in choosing the interim leader, although their views will carry less weight than elected MPs.
This isn't right. The Senators are not an elected body, yes, but they are a caucus of representatives that must follow a leader, interim or otherwise. They have as much a say on those decisions as the Members of Parliament. The Board should not constrict their say in this way - they can't step over the caucus. I agree to the restrictions before because those are Board restrictions that bind them; this, however, is a caucus matter, and Senators are undoubtedly apart of that caucus. Let them have their full say.


  1. bluntobject, the Interim Leader rules are NOT fair. They amount to the National Board deciding to strip a member (say, Justin Trudeau) of his right under the Constitution to run for any office in the party. They do this by getting him to commit not to run for permanent Leader - if he does not commit to do that, they deny him the right to run for Interim Leader.

    If we had a clause in the Constitution amending the right of any member to run for any post in the party by saying anyone becoming an Interim Leader cannot run for permanent Leader, this action by the National Board would be OK.

    But there isn't any such clause, and the National Board and Caucus (MPs and Senators) cannot simply take away a member's right to run for any post, just because they want to do so.

    Let's amend the Constitution first, and if 2/3rds of members vote in favour of this limitation on a member's right to run for permanent Leader, good!

    If the amendment fails, then this promise by candidates running for Interim Leader should be scrapped (retroactively if needs be).

  2. Is an interim leader necessary?

  3. CC,

    It's a voluntary code totally within the rights of the Board to be in the running for a position that affects the entire party - and there are such restrictions on ALL executive positions. There isn't anything wrong with this.

    A Eliz,

    It is because Ignatieff resigned. One is very necessary at this point, even if we hold the race a month from now.

  4. It is not a voluntary code. The Constitution gives the power to the Board of Directors to choose the Interim Leader after consulation with the caucus. It does not give the Board the power to overrule the specific provisions of Section 10(2)(e) which gives every member the right to be elected to any office of the Party.

  5. CC,

    It's a binding motion that affects how the Board will vote - and given that these individuals can vote how they wish, they are allowed to set up these restrictions. There's nothing constitutionally wrong with this.