THUNDER BAY – It is a slow Sunday morning start at the Liberal Convention in Ottawa. The federal Liberals are gathered in Ottawa, and making decisions about the future of their political party. There were a few interesting statements made by delegates on Saturday. First the Liberal grassroots voted to allow a new “supporter” level of non-membership join the party, and vote for the next leader. Second the Liberals voted to leave the veto power over party policy in the hands of the party leader. It was a strange combination of decisions.
First, the Liberals realize that a $10 annual membership is not that big a deal, and it should not disallow people from participating. However in then voting to leave the decisions of the membership with the will of the party leader to veto them, the Liberals appear to have opened the door, invited everyone into the “big red tent” and then told all those inside they are not allowed to feast or dine at the big table.
Some of the delegates expressed, in supporting the veto in the hands of the leader, that if the leader was not comfortable with the party policies set by the members that the “leader could not sell them” to Canadians.
Perhaps what it should be is that if the leader can’t support the policies of the party, then maybe the leader is in the wrong party?
On Sunday morning, one of the delegates was complaining over how Saturday night “after seventy per cent of the delegates left, a resolution passed giving the leader the veto power”.
One of the keys also missed by many are that the Liberal Party sets the decisions and debate for many of the major issues to happen on Sunday morning of their convention. A few years ago, covering a Liberal convention in Ottawa, on the Friday and Saturday the rooms of the Congress Centre were filled with young excited youth delegates who pushed forward some very progressive policies.
Many of those policies made it to the Sunday morning voting.
What was not reported was the number of parties, celebrations and hospitality suites that happened on Saturday night. Honestly there were beer cans in the Peace Flame fountain on Sunday morning. One of the guards on Parliament Hill commented to me how “this happens everytime the Liberals are in town”. Most of the hard work of Friday and Saturday was voted down on Sunday morning by the older, greyer haired Liberals who didn’t over do it on Saturday night.
This morning via Twitter, Althia Raj, the Ottawa Bureau Chief for The Huffington Post Canada is tweeting, “Liberals are slowing arriving Sunday morning for their policy plenary. Less than 600 are in the room to vote”. On Saturday there were almost 1500 delegates in the room voting on policy resolutions.
This morning, most of the resolutions are going forward without debate, almost as if the delegates have already decided the new policies they will support. It is a contrast to parliament where Bob Rae and the caucus are demanding more time for debate.
Perhaps the issue is one where the doors are opened wide to the youth, who debate and vote on policies, but are lured into latenight parties on Saturday that slow them down on Sunday?
Photo by Althia Raj posted on Twitter