What Tories are debating in Vancouver: Key policy proposals at #cpc16

Conservative delegates will kick off the work they came to Vancouver to do Friday, as they consider 60 proposed party policy changes and dozens of possible amendments to the party's constitution. Here are a few highlights.

Four different sessions Friday morning will debate what Tory party policies should change

Debate begins Friday on proposed policy changes at the Conservative Party's policy convention in Vancouver. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Conservative delegates will kick off the work they came to Vancouver to do Friday, as they consider 60 proposed party policy changes and dozens of possible amendments to the party's constitution.

Three breakout sessions will prioritize which 30 policy proposals will advance to the final plenary session and be voted on by all delegates on Saturday.

Proposals have been grouped under three categories, with up to 10 eligible to advance from each, based on the level of support they receive.

A fourth session will work through some 24 pages of proposed constitutional amendments, as the party considers ideas for changing the way it governs itself. 

Here are a few highlights:

Government, environment and economic development

  • Separate motions call for a national referendum prior to the implementation of any electoral reforms, as well as calling on the government "not to endorse any new electoral system that will weaken the link between members of Parliament and their constituents, create unmanageably large ridings, or strengthen the control of party machinery" over MPs.
  • A riding association from Southwestern Ontario proposes the party aim for broad-based tax relief instead of targeted tax credits.
  • A Quebec riding association proposes an end to mandatory union membership and forced financial contributions because it "limits economic freedom" and stifles growth.

Criminal justice and social policy

  • Two riding associations are advancing a proposal to recognize civilian gun ownership as a "Canadian Heritage."
  • Three ridings are moving to strike the current policy position defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
  • A Quebec riding proposes allowing peace officers to ticket, rather than arrest, those found in possession of small quantities of marijuana.
  • A B.C. riding proposes to strike a line saying the party will not support any legislation legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Foreign policy, Canadian culture and diversity

  • A Toronto riding supports legislation to revoke citizenship from dual citizens convicted of terrorism offences. (A law passed during the previous Conservative government, but was then repealed when the Liberals took power.)
  • An Edmonton riding proposes deleting the party policy in support of giving farmers the right to market their own grain. (Now redundant, following the dismantling of the former Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly during Harper's tenure.)

Constitutional amendments

  • A Southwestern Ontario riding wants to give riding associations more control over, and benefit from, telephone fundraising campaigns using the party's centralized membership database.
  • A B.C. riding wants to revive a previously-debated and rejected push to create a youth wing.
  • Separate motions would change the election of the party president to a secret ballot vote at the party's convention (rather than have he or she selected by the elected national council), impose term limits on the party executive, and no longer allow the party leader to nominate the executive director following what one proposal calls the "absolute disaster" of Harper's sudden pick of longtime loyalist staffer Dimitri Soudas, who was later fired after interfering in a nomination for his then-girlfriend.
  • Other motions aim to improve the monitoring of and accountability for how party money is spent, with a separate motion calling for more oversight of party spending on IT services following the failed implementation of the C-Vote membership system.
  • A move to set up steering committees in the urban centres of Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, where the party was not electorally successful in 2015. Another motion, however, calls for "equal treatment for all ridings," suggesting rural ridings feel neglected.
  • Separate motions ask delegates to clarify who selects the party's interim leader and who sets up the leadership selection committee. Others seek to change the party's rules for triggering a leadership review, including one motion required by the passage into law of MP Michael Chong's Reform Act.