Saturday, May 2, 2009

Under First-Past-the-Post, single member constituencies are increasingly run by party leaders and executives

There is an interesting letter posted on a Blogging Tories forum. Clyde Fulton, a long time Conservative Party of Canada member, writes that a new rule defending current Conservative MPs from being removed as candidates for the next federal election is a sham. Two-thirds of the members of a constituency association will need to agree on removing an MP as a candidate and open the nomination process to others. He mentions that the constituency members' list is not always accessible and is not updated. It is difficult to get the 2/3 support from people who move out of a riding. It is extremely difficult to get the 2/3 support from dead members. This rule protects poorly performing MPs who are loyal to their leaders.

Even though the situation above deals with the federal Conservative Party, One can notice that political parties under the antiquated First-Past-the-Post voting system are becoming increasingly centralized. Party leaders appoint people to run as candidates in local ridings over the objections of the local constituency associations. These local party associations matter less each election under the existing but antiquated First-Past-the-Post voting system.

British Columbians will get a chance to vote for BC-STV (Single Transferable Vote) on in the referendum on May 12. Under BC-STV, voters will be able to rank candidates when they vote. If I were voting, I would rank highly those candidates who were nominated and chosen by their constituency members. I would also rank good independent candidates highly. I would lowly rank candidates who were appointed by their party leaders.

Democracy will continue be centralized if we keep the antiquated First-Past-the-Post voting system. Here is the letter that talks about the situation with the federal Conservative Party. It could just as well apply to other political parties--federally and provincially. The letter doesn't mention voting reform. However, I do think that voting for BC-STV and against the antiquated First-Past-the-Post voting system will lessen centralized control in our political system.

Support BC-STV on May 12.

The Conservative Party of Canada
1204 - 130 Albert Street,
Ottawa, Ontario KIP 5G4

Mr Don Plett, President

I enclose my Certificate of Appreciation, which I am returning in disgust over the manner in which you and National Council have subverted the democratic nomination process in the EDA of Calgary West, depriving grassroots party members of a long-sought after and well-deserved nomination meeting.

A balloting process requiring two-thirds of all members to request a nomination meeting is a sham with a predetermined outcome. While one could legitimately argue whether a simple majority or some greater percentage of voting members is appropriate, two-thirds of all registered members is an absurd hurdle rate clearly designed to simply acclaim all existing MPs, while wasting party resources in a pathetic attempt to give the appearance of having consulted the membership.

Perhaps you could tell me how you intend to validate the number of living members in the EDA which will be used to calculate the two-thirds majority. I am aware of at least one deceased member ... perhaps you could tell me how many others have died, moved out of the EDA or are otherwise ineligible? How can you even verify that all members have received ballots? The answer of course is that you cannot do any of these things because the process is so badly flawed.

It is a sad irony that this party, which only months ago claimed the opposition was undemocratically attempting to seize control through a coalition, now effectively disenfranchises its own members using an unprecedented and absurd test of two-thirds of all registered members. Not once in the past four federal elections have two-thirds of registered Canadian voters actually cast a vote. I am unaware of any democratic process in which a failure to vote is regarded as a vote in favour of the status quo. I can only presume the goal of National Council is to keep the party's focus on winning the next election, as it should be. Does the prospect of a divisive challenge to the legitimacy of this process seem like a good use of party resources in a minority government situation? Why would you insult the very membership you rely upon for financial and voter support with such a transparently deceitful and mean-spirited process?

As you are acutely aware, Calgary West recently held its AGM in which a new Board was elected with a clear mandate to hold a nomination meeting. This was the culmination of a decade-long struggle to replace the buffoon who has represented this riding for the past 12 years. His offensive response was to simply brand as "closet Liberals" longstanding party members of integrity who questioned, challenged or criticized his outlandish behavior and dismal performance as an MP.

The question so many of us in Calgary West are asking is what possible interest you, the party and the Prime Minister have in protecting Mr. Anders who represents such a liability and whose performance is the subject of constant ridicule by his own constituents and any impartial, thoughtful observer. He reaffirms in the minds of many Canadian voters their concern that the party still tolerates the lunatic element of the extreme right, effectively dashing any hope of ever electing a Conservative majority government.

Further exacerbating my frustration, has been the manner in which you personally, Mr. Plett, have intervened to undermine the authority of the EDA and the will of the grassroots members of Calgary West by unilaterally denying the new Board and its Interim Executive timely access to the mailing list. Your thug-like behavior contravenes every principle of grassroots democracy that this party was founded upon.

While it saddens me to withdraw my support from the party that I truly believe should govern this country, the reprehensible actions, arrogant attitude and bullying conduct of you personally and National Council have left me no choice but to use every democratic means available to effect the positive change so desperately needed in this riding and apparently at National Council itself. Until we are able to hold a fair, open and democratic nomination process in Calgary West I will:

• Withhold all further financial contributions to the party and encourage my family,
friends, neighbours and business colleagues to do likewise
• Use every channel available to me to publicize this charade
• Make every effort to apply increased scrutiny and publicity over Mr. Anders
dismal performance
• Support the recruitment and financing of a high profile independent progressive conservative candidate of integrity to run in Calgary West in the next federal election. The risk of course is that this will split the conservative vote allowing a Liberal win. While this would be unfortunate, it is the only process you and National Council have left available to the large number of people in this riding so disenchanted with Mr Anders.

Historically I have taken a very passive role in politics. However this issue has mobilized me like no other. I will make it my personal mission to bring this travesty of democracy to the attention of as many people as possible.

If you believe a nomination process would have been divisive, you can imagine what using such a fraudulent process to deprive the newly mobilized membership of Calgary West of a legitimate voice in selecting who will represent them in the next election will produce.

The Prime Minister and the Party have the actions of you personally and National Council to blame for this deplorable situation.

Clyde W. Fulton

cc. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada
Kara Johnson, Vice President
Victor Marciano, Secretary
Menno Froese, Regional Vice President (West)
Cecil Taylor, Regional Vice President (Atlantic)
Gilles Lavoie, Regional Vice President (Quebec)


Chrystal Ocean said...

Excellent points, Skinny.

Skinny Dipper said...

Thanks, Chrystal. I'm crossing my fingers and toes for BC-STV.

And I'm crossing my thumbs too.