Saturday, December 02, 2006

One Member, One Vote versus College Vote

The two leadership campaigns going off in Canada right now are an interesting exercise in contrasts.

In Alberta, we have an "unbounded" one member, one vote process being conducted, and the Federal Liberals are conducting a much more classical "Delegates-and-Convention" process.

The first thought that I have is that the system being exercised in Alberta wouldn't be too bad, but for the fact that there has been no cut-off on membership sales. Besides the obvious worries I have around fraud and validating the results, I think it is created an environment where the candidates are constantly looking outward, trying to attract the largest possible army of voters.

In contrast, the Liberals cut off membership sales sometime in September, when Delegate Selection took place. After that point, the party turned "inwards" and the campaign has been one where the party has been able to discuss actively the direction of the party. (The first major piece to come out of this was the adoption of a new party constitution this past week)

The Alberta process suggests that the PC's don't think that they need to make any changes. This is somewhat disappointing, because it tells me that the party doesn't recognize that it had become "The Cult of Ralph", and is seeking another demagogue to step into Ralph's shoes. I also object to framing a party process of replacing a leader in the more general terms of "electing the premier".

I'm not entirely sure that the Liberal process will produce as much change as I'd like, but at least it has marginalized "old-style" players like Volpe. However, I think the Liberal process has been more reflective of Canada's party system, and considerably more respectful of the voters. At the end of Saturday, the party will turn outward once again, and present Canada with a new leader and a new vision.

In Alberta, Ralph's replacement will be picking up all of Ralph's baggage - including party structures and direction. There is no "give and take" discussion going on between the three remaining demagogues, and it's far too much of a "winner takes all" kind of approach to produce the kind of changes that are so desperately needed.

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