Welcome to Day 2 of my great (!) (?) coverage of the Liberal convention.
The big news today is this may not be the last Liberal leadership convention ever! They had their big debate today on whether to switch to one-person one-vote and to the surprise of a lot of people in the media, it didn't go through! I guess all these delegates came to the convention in Montreal and suddenly got cold-feet about getting rid of conventions, and all the fun that goes with it.
I happen to hold the view that we should not completely get rid of convention-style events; they're good for party morale and good on television. But the one-person-one-vote process, or some form of it, should be incorporated with it. The Conservatives in Ontario and at the federal level have got it right: they hold traditional speeches on Friday and a direct vote by the membership the next day in the ridings and at the "convention". The ridings are all weighted equally, just like in a traditional convention process, and you need 50% plus 1 to win. Anyone who wants to go to the actual "convention" can do so, you don't need to get elected as a delegate. I have been to three of these things and they have all the excitement and drama as delegated leadership conventions. In fact, the 2002 Ontario PC leadership vote was a really big deal; there was basically no difference between that event and traditional conventions, except for the fact that all the members of the party were voting directly that day all over Ontario.
So I think it can be done, you can hold a direct-vote type of convention with all the hoopla and so on. The main thing missing is the manipulations and machinations behind closed doors. And boy, is that ever happening with the Liberals.
I was watching Kevin Newman on Global and they were talking about how Joe Volpe was about to do a deal with Bob Rae, and how Gerard Kennedy and Stephane Dion had had talks in the last 24 hours, again. Well, ain't that great eh? A leadership convention decided not on the floor, but by bosses and organizers behind closed doors. That's no way to go.
Anyway the good news is the Liberals have shot down this proposal to get rid of leadership conventions, so we will have fun covering Canadian conventions for the foreseeable future--- or at least until the Libs revisit this issue at their next policy convention two years from now.
That's the thing: these delegated policy conventions aren't going away any time soon. By the way, the Conservatives' next policy convention is slated for next year in Winnipeg. Winnipeg is forever known as the place where the PC party delegates knifed Joe Clark and he called a leadership convention after receiving only a 66.9% endorsement from the delegates.
Tonight, the main item on the agenda is the big tribute to their fallen leader, Paul Martin. That ought to be fun. At the last leadership convention the Liberals held, they were hoping to sweep the country under his leadership and win 200 seats. Now here they are, out of power. That was quick.