Plett said 94,000 ballots were mailed nationally to party members in ridings with an incumbent, asking them whether they wanted a nomination race in their constituency. The mail-out included Calgary West, where lawyer Donna Kennedy-Glans wanted to challenge longtime MP Rob Anders.
Two-thirds approval was required to trigger a battle, while an unreturned ballot was counted as a no under new rules adopted by the Conservative party's national council in March. In the past, if people wanted to challenge a nomination, they generally could after an interview, Plett said.
Now, let's think about this. First up is the obvious bar that a 2/3 of membership creates. Anyone even mildly familiar with volunteer organizations knows that for the most part, only a handful of the overall membership is ever active, and likely to return their ballots.
Then there is the ballot counting method. An unreturned ballot is assumed to be a "no"... hmmm... so, in essence, this entire system was set up not so that the incumbents had to actually earn their nomination, but rather so that apathy would guarantee their renomination.
Coming from the party whose roots are in the grassroots populism of the Reform party, this is beyond revolting. They haven't held anything close to a democratic process. Any process which assumes the value of an unreturned ballot to be anything other than "spoiled" is fundamentally wrong.
As a long term watcher of Alberta politics, it's amazing the lengths that the CPoC has gone to in protecting Rob Anders from any kind of nomination threat. Every time there is a credible threat, they go gumby the rules about in such a way as to neutralize the threat to Anders.
But then again, it just tells us something about how conservatives win in politics - by playing on apathy. In Alberta politics, we've seen it for years - where ever dwindling voter turnout has made it possible for the conservatives to gain a virtual stranglehold on the provincial government.