Party resolutions to watch: Leadership races, transparency and ethics
While much of the media attention may focus on the policy debates, Conservative delegates to this weekend's convention are also facing some tough decisions on the way the party governs itself, from the leadership selection process to the care and handling of the terabytes of personal information in its data archives.
Here's a quick rundown of some of the more contentious changes being proposed to the party constitution:
Future leadership races
Undaunted, it seems, by a string of failures on the floor at conventions past, foes of the status quo will once again attempt to convince their fellow Conservatives to ditch the current voting system, in which each riding is automatically assigned 100 "points," regardless of how many ballots are actually cast by its members.
As was the case in 2011, there are currently two leadership election-related resolutions on the table, only one of which will likely make to the plenary floor: C-132, a relatively modest revamp to the existing weighting formula that would give additional points to ridings with more than 100 eligible voters, up to a maximum of 200, and C-133, a far more radical proposal to choose the next party leader via pure one-member-one-vote using a single transferable ballot.
A separate motion would also ban cash membership sales during leadership races, which, according to the stated rationale, would allow the party to "ensure the identity and source of funds of [its] members." (C-104)
In what is clearly a concerted effort by riding associations — and, by extension, the rank-and-file party membership — to take back some control of the nomination system, there are resolutions that would explicitly reaffirm the right of the local EDA to choose its own candidate (C-138) and not have one foisted upon them from the centre(C-150), albeit possibly within the parameters of a separate proposal to have all nomination hopefuls to undergo an "in-depth" vetting by the party before being permitted to put their name forward, in order to avoid having to rescind a nomination after the fact. (C-148)
There's also a pitch to impose a 18-month pre-election deadline on incumbents — including sitting MPs — to give notice of whether they intend to run again (C-161).
Potentially more contentiously, there is a proposal to ensure that candidates are "able to talk and write in the official language(s) of the province where they run" (C-162), while another would limit voting rights at nomination meetings to Canadian citizens to prevent people from being "coerced into joining the party to vote for a particular candidate with no knowledge of the issues or the candidate," which the rationale states could be due to fear of "displeasing their local leaders." (C-164)
Transparency and ethics
Following on the theme of boosting the collective power of card-carrying members, delegates will consider a resolution that would require "regular communication" between the party and its riding associations to strengthen their role in the "development of legislative initiatives and government policy," as well as ensure regular updates on exactly what policies have been implemented. (C-124)
There's also a motion to prevent a rejected resolution — or one of "similar form or intent" — from being resubmitted for consideration at the next two conventions (C-107), plus a pair of resolutions pleading for "fair and transparent" voting (C-127), and verifiable recording of said votes (C-135), at future national confabs — which, if C-156 passes, will always be held in the National Capital Region barring "overriding considerations."
There are also two separate but similar proposals to have the chair of the National Policy Committee elected by the committee itself, instead of appointed by National Council as is currently the case. (C-111, C-112)
Another resolution would create an "independent ethics committee" that would report back to National Council on "compliance with ethical best practices in fundraising and campaign activities," (C-130) while a separate initiative would prohibit the use of party resources — including databases and staff — to help out provincial parties (C-115).
Finally, if C-117 is adopted, the party would rewrite its statement of principles to tweak the existing text laying out its belief in a "global trading regime that is free and fair" in favour of one that "provides a net benefit to Canada," although it's worth noting that "net benefit" remains undefined.
Read the complete package of constitutional resolutions here: