Thursday, May 5, 2011

Is Alf Apps Really Wrong?

I've noticed some criticism of Liberal Party President Alf Apps from some corners today, particularly from BigCityLib, Jim Curran, CuriosityCat, and Warren Kinsella. The criticism stems from Apps' seeming inclination to say one thing and do another; in this case, it's say that whoever gets the job of interim leader of the Liberals, can't run for permanent leadership (hopefully) a couple years down the line from now - even though Apps, one of Ignatieff's biggest supporters, allowed for Iggy to do just that back in 2008-2009.

Accordingly, Apps said this in the Canadian Press article that followed the story:

Ignatieff did precisely that in 2008 but Apps said that was an unusual situation, in which Liberals were panicked by the possibility of a snap election into bending the rules. With Stephen Harper now firmly in control of a majority government, there's no similar pressure.
Now, I don't want to simply be a contrarian here, but isn't Apps technically right? I remember the situation back in 2008-2009 when the vast majority of people, both members and caucus, and this includes Bob Rae's and Dominic LeBlanc's forces, agreed to allowing Ignatieff to serve as interim leader after Dion's departure/removal, yet still contest the next leadership race, because of the extraordinary circumstances we were put into at the time.

If this is true, then why does Apps get as much flak as he does? We are no longer in extraordinary circumstances, we're just in bad circumstances. However, with a majority government in place and four or five years to rebuild ourselves - three of those years on the per vote subsidy, meaning three years to wean ourselves off of it without fear of an election - it isn't exactly as if we're in panic mode right now. We have the time, unlike in 2008-2009, so why should the traditional rules be circumvented now?

In this case, I do kind of tend to agree with Apps. There's no reason to, and the folks claiming that it's stacking the deck against Rae or other contenders are crying over spilt milk. I wouldn't oppose it if the case was made out to be that the rules should change, and any interim leader can run in the next leadership race - however, to me, it seems that would probably end up endearing the interim leader to members, and really allowing for simple succession to occur without a proper race. The entire idea behind keeping interim leaders out of leadership races was to ensure that when the time came, after some of the heavy work was done and the party was settled, we could have an open race, and not have it already set beforehand.

I don't know - it could very well be that Apps is just being an ass and trying to ensure that Rae gets stuck between a rock and a hard place. This all being said, I don't see the disadvantage for Rae either; if the interim leader is, say, Goodale, then it takes out a major player that won't bother Rae in the leadership race. Really, why is there such a rush for Rae to be leader? Why can't he wait? Why not let the party begin the process of renewal, and let him bring forward his ideas on how to continue that renewal and propel it even further when the leadership race occurs?

I get the idea that Apps is an Iggy supporter and he just wants to screw the other guys over - but he's not doing it in such a way that gives an advantage to his side or any other side. We get an interim leader, like before, start the renewal process, then we get our leadership race. Everyone gets a fair shake, Rae or whoever else doesn't need to become leader right away. That was part of the problem last time - it's got to be party before your personal ambitions. Nothing else. Apps isn't doing or saying anything wrong now that goes against that.


  1. You are right, there is no need to toss out the rules Apps is doing it right and so should we. Interim leader doesn't get to run in leadership convention.

  2. what's the sense of having any rules whatsoever in this party if we just continue to break them. Leblanc and Rae had no choice but to resign last time because the national executive wanted to follow the rule below to a tee and it wouldn't give either of them enough time to sell memberships and organize.

    54 Call of Leadership Vote
    (1) The Leader ceases immediately to be the Leader when:
    (a) due to incapacity, the Leader ceases to be recognized by the Governor-General
    as the leader of the Party in the House of Commons;
    (b) the Leader dies;
    (c) there are published in accordance with this Constitution the results of a
    Leadership Endorsement Ballot in which the Leader is not endorsed;32
    (d) the National Board of Directors declares in accordance with Subsection 55(2)
    that the result of a Leadership Vote is invalid.
    (2) If the Leader publicly announces an intention to resign or if the Leader delivers to the
    National President a written resignation or a written request to call a Leadership
    Vote, then the Leader ceases to be the Leader on the earlier of the appointment of an
    Interim Leader and when a new Leader is elected by the members of the Party.
    (3) In the circumstances set out in Subsection 54(1), if the Leader publicly announces an
    intention to resign or if the Leader delivers to the National President a written
    resignation or a written request to call a Leadership Vote, the National President
    must call a meeting of the National Board of Directors to be held within 27 days, and
    at that meeting the National Board of Directors must:
    (a) in the circumstances set out in Subsection 54(1) or if the Leader so requests, in
    consultation with the Caucus, appoint an “Interim Leader”;
    (b) set a date for a Leadership Vote to be held within five months;

  3. James,

    Then we'll follow the rules. However, much like John Turner or Trudeau and Pearson and so on, Ignatieff has't resigned just yet - but he has announced his intention to resign. That's key. Intentions can drag on for a long while.

    Even so, maybe the executive wants to make the decision to hold off on a leadership vote for a couple of years, and given the circumstances, is that not understandable? We have a few years to get up to speed but a lot of work has to be done; does it make more sense to let everyone's ambitions get the better of them now, or later?