Inside Politics

CPCWatch: Attention 2011 Conventioneers -- Who's up for a rock 'em sock 'em flat tax fight?

Late last week, the much-anticipated list of proposed policy amendments for next week's Conservative convention finally popped up on the party website. 

Slugged as a "DRAFT" and ostensibly provided to "assist delegates in preparation for convention," there appears to have been no attempt made to alert visitors to the website -- including, very possibly, some of those delegates -- to its release: no news release, no link from the homepage and no reference to its existence anywhere on the Convention2011 website

Which may be fitting, really, since the process employed by the party to winnow down the hundreds of submissions sent in by local electoral district associations takes place entirely behind closed doors and with no direct involvement by party members. 

Unlike the proposed constitutional amendments, which undergo preliminary preferential voting by local electoral district associations to determine which make it onto the slate for floor debate, policy resolutions are evaluated by the national policy committee -- which, as CPC spokesperson Fred DeLorey was careful to point out, is elected by EDAs, although it's equally fair to note that it is actually National Council that is elected, not the committee itself. In any case, it was that committee that was "tasked with deciding ... which ones make it to convention."  

UPDATE: The indefatigable Fred sent me a note to reassure me that yes, the policy committee is indeed elected by EDA presidents. Consider that clarified! 

A weighty task, to be sure. According to some card-carrying party members -- who must, alas, remain unnamed for their own protection or risk a last-minute revocation of their convention credentials -- some of those rejected resolutions would almost certainly have sparked mild to medium media interest had they come forward for debate: multiple submissions that would have banned the use of sharia law in Canada, as well several that would have attempted to reopen the abortion debate, as well as one that would have done the opposite, and removed that section of the platform entirely. 

(If any Conservative EDA members would like to share more examples of submissions that didn't make the final cut, feel free to email me the details -- or post the wording to the comments.) 

Which isn't to say that there isn't plenty of fodder for lively discussion when final slate hits the floor next Friday, mind you. Some potential highlights (and, if all goes according to plan, livebloggable moments): 

The sole same-sex marriage resolution that survived the purge would edit the current wording on Family and Marriage to make it clear that it is the Conservative Party, but not necessarily a Conservative government, that supports legislation to define marriage as "the union of one man and one women." 

As for that mysteriously disappearing proposed ban on sharia law, the following resolution may well be an attempt to bring the matter to the floor while carefully avoiding the use of the phrase itself, although the resulting text is a wee bit cryptic without context: "The CPC supports our Canadian justice system as defined by our Charter and Constitution and does not support a parallel justice system which would contravene our existing rights and freedoms." 

One brave little toaster of a riding association -- Regina Qu'Appelle, to be precise -- is calling on the Conservative government to make all House votes free, with the exception of the budget and main estimates, which would remove the current loophole that gives leave for whip  cracking on "core government initiatives" (which could mean anything, really.) Nipissing-Timiskaming wants "binding referendums" that could be triggered by petition, and a dozen or so Ontario ridings would strengthen property rights through a constitutional amendment

There's also P-060, which seems destined to be known as the "Khadr resolution," which would revoke the citizenship of any Canadian who "commits treason by taking up arms against the Canadian Forces or the Forces for Canada's Allies," while also pledging to put any such de-Canadianized individuals on trial for high treason if returned to Canadian jurisdiction. 

Other immigration-related resolutions would streamline the refugee process, as well as allow allow "legitimate" refugee claimants to work while awaiting the results of an appeal. 

On the social policy front,several riding associations would like to see the platform include explicit support for "shared parenting" in the event of divorce, as well as making long-term care insurance tax deductible and protecting "honest citizens who take action to protect their lives, their families and their property from criminals." Another proposal would reduce the threshold for dangerous offender designation from three offences to two. 

Meanwhile, for those nostalgic for Reform-era fiscal proselytizing, the flat tax is back on the agenda, as is a more obliquely worded proposal for "simplification" of existing tax law, and various proposals for tax relief, particularly in instances of "taxation on taxation. 

Oshawa Conservatives are recommending an "aggressive regulatory reform policy" to "eliminate red-tape," and Saint John and Nanaimo-Alberni have submitted virtually identical proposals to relax the existing restrictions on foreign ownership. Durham wants amnesty -- or at least no penalty --  for workers who choose not to take part in a strike, and Niagara supports secret ballots for strike votes. 

Finally, both South Surrey-Whiterock and Saskatoon-Humboldt would have the party pull its support for a domestic cap-and-trade system, although the prairie riding would go a step further and strike the section that calls for target-based greenhouse gas reduction, while SSW would also remove hydrogen from the list of alternative fuels worthy of further research and development. 

Read the full deck here:
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