Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Note on the eventual Toronto-Danforth by-election...

I agree with something posted awhile back by Globe and Mail columnist Robert Silver, that the upcoming by-election is a chance to do something different - specifically, the attempt at an "open primary" in the riding.

The concept is simple: anyone puts their name forward as a candidate for the nomination, and after being vetted by the local Liberal executives (and, I would argue, the national executive as well), a portion of those candidates are chosen by the local exec to be the "candidates" that they'd like to see become the candidate, based on either their own criteria or set criteria. After this, a ballot is sent out to every single voter in the riding, and they all have a chance to vote on who may become the next Liberal candidate.

Now, there are plentiful things wrong with this system - the chances for abuse are plentiful, and the federal exec is pretty much required to have the ability to override the democratic selection of a candidate, in case said candidate ends up being a total whackjob a là Lesley Hughes, Tom Wappel, and so on. And yes, these candidates can take over and abuse this process as easily as any other.

But, why the heck can't we at least try? It may not work out in the end; open primaries are a hassle, and you can be pretty embarrassed by the results. We'll never know if we don't try the system out, though. I'm personally a fan of a primary system - not necessarily "open," - and I'd like to try the system out. Who knows? The results may just surprise you, and we could make the by-election an interesting affair, whether we lose by another mile or not.


  1. Having primaries like the U.S does bring in some advantages like getting people maybe more involved, but they are extremely expensive, and the party themselves in the U.S don't pay for it it is the state government that do. So primaries will have to come out of the Liberal party wallet.

  2. Yes, that's true - though in at least 200 ridings or so, there's not going to be a major primary. The costs could be kept down.