Monday, November 7, 2011

Why the The Leadership Needs the Power to Appoint Candidates

Evil Incarnate
Of all the proposals I've heard floating around so far to change how democracy is done within the Liberal Party, the question of taking away a leader's power to appoint candidates is the worst. It's the only one that I cannot ever agree with, ever, because its so utterly stupid, it hurts me to think about it.

If you're unaware of who the guy above is, that's former Scarborough MP Tom Wappel, who in the 1980's took over the riding association in Scarborough Southwest with his group of pro-lifers, one of many that descended upon poor Scarborough during this time.

Wappel, who received support from Campaign Life and the Catholic Church for his pro-life views, is a prime example of why the power to appoint is sometimes necessary in certain ridings.

You can lament about democracy all you want, but a perfectly democratic system will produce results that will kill our chances in particular areas, or will saddle us with baggage we don't want. The fact is, the democratic process is easy to take over, especially so for a primary system which we seem to be moving towards (which I'm happy to support).

But let's be reasonable - we don't want another Tom Wappel, M.P., taking over a riding on the basis of a single issue campaign that we as Liberals are opposed to. We need some sort of trump card to pull on these people, and the ultimate trump card is candidate appointments by the leader, executive, or whatever.

Yes, I agree, people like Derek Lee or Jimmy K or John MacKay, who are all pro-life, are/were valued members of the Liberal caucus. No doubt about it. But they have and continue to prove their worth. Differences of opinion aside, these individuals have proven themselves to be credible.

But there will be the case when the difference of opinion is just too much. Again, we have Wappel. But what about Lesley Hughes, the Kildonan Truther candidate from 2008? What do we do when these highly organized and concentrated groups come together in one or two ridings, flood it with members, and take it over and nominate some unsuitable/unstable candidate? And this isn't only limited to the nutbars - riding associations should have a trump card to play against egotistical a-holes with designs on the riding. I know there's a few around Burlington in particular.

That's not democracy, that's an invasion. And I would sleep a lot better at night knowing that the leader and/or the executive had our backs and could do something.

Make it more restrictive, make it conditional, make it a democratic vote among the executive itself - I agree that the power needs to be curtailed. But please, please don't take it away. We'll be opening ourselves up to the Christine O'Donnells of the world if we do.

6 comments:

  1. My understanding of the proposal is that this will take away the Leader's right to appoint candidates directly. It will not, however, take away the Party's (and thus the Leader's) right to deny the application of a Party member to be considered a candidate. This is an important note and it effectively address all of your concerns.

    We have seen time and time again that it is oftentimes the Party brass and the Leader himself who interfere directly in nomination meetings (even where the Leader does not appoint). Ignatieff, Chretien, and Martin all did this repeatedly (Iggy was even doing it while Dion was leader). These candidates usually perform far worse then should be expected and result in a deeply divided riding association. The Party brass nor the Leader are innocent and should not be trusted to not abuse their right.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh, Matt, I should make clear, I'm not attacking the policy so far put forward - this is just what I've gotten from other members I've talked to, who wish to take it one step further.

    Otherwise, I agree - they shouldn't be trusted 100%. That's why we need checks and balances. However, the mood of some says that we should scrap the whole thing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. If you're unaware of who the guy above is, that's former Scarborough MP Tom Wappel, who in the 1980's took over the riding association in Scarborough Southwest with his group of pro-lifers, one of many that descended upon poor Scarborough during this time.

    Not just Scarborough. There was a group called Liberals for Life that worked to get anti-abortion Liberal candidates in and around the GTA.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Did you mis-speak when you said Jimmy K was valued? The word I associate with him is "burden".

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm gonna figure that all the 'star candidates' have done far more damage than mr wappel...

    ReplyDelete
  6. I disagree. The blanket assertion that handpicked candidates = bad is a generalization and silly.

    Not to mention you're comparing apples to oranges here.

    ReplyDelete