Adequate vote weight from Quebec is essential to leadership vote

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Sean in Ottawa
Adequate vote weight from Quebec is essential to leadership vote

Back a while ago I stopped posting here due to issues I still feel very strongly about-- and while I don't take posting here lightly (and don't plan on writing here often) I feel even more strongly that this is an issue that must get more attention and discussion. I feel the party will be driving itself over a cliff if it does not address the need to find a way to ensure a reasonable weight to Quebec in the leadership vote. The problem has been reported often enough but it is not being addressed. Having a Quebec leader when the dust settles does not replace the need to have a voting process that respects the size and importance of Quebec within Canada and now within the NDP.

Here is what I posted at enmasse.ca on the topic:

 

Bound to be controversial-- here is Chantal Hébert's take:

Hébert: The NDP is failing Quebec’s distinct political culture

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/article/1057521--hebert...

I certainly hope her perspective is not dismissed out of hand.

There is a contradiction between the party position on asymmetrical federalism, special status for Quebec and holding a one-member-one-vote with almost no membership in Quebec after getting a majority of votes and MPs from there in the last election.

It is not that I do not trust the NDP members across the country to connect the party's interest with solidifying support in Quebec but Chantal is right about there being a democratic deficit-- caused by a failure to adapt to the special circumstances of the sudden rise in support and representation in Quebec coupled with the uniqueness of that province's provincial political lay of the land. That rightly will lead to a difficulty in trusting the NDP to deliver on its rhetoric about Quebec's distinctiveness.

A one-time carve-out weighting Quebec membership at 25% of the convention vote would be one way to allow Quebec to catch up in members to other provinces. It can be explained to the country and the party as a response to a special circumstance. Guaranteeing Quebec to be no less than it's proportion of the population is the very least we can do -- rounding it a short way up to 25% would not be a bad way to recognize that there is an important distinct society there.

I understand well the reality and principle of one member one vote -- but the principle of adequate representation should trump that when the NDP support levels and membership is so clearly disproportionate.

The party does not have to go to a brokered convention either. It could either weight Quebec at 25% in a one-time deal or weight all provinces by their populations. If it did so then a province with low membership would have a higher value for a single member vote which if anything would contribute to making membership more attractive in the provinces with the lowest number of members. Hard to see why that is such a bad thing. One member one vote can decide the percentage of each province to go to each candidate and that would still make the NDP more democratic than many of the other parties in the country.

Ironically by not giving Quebec a reasonable vote share, the party then must practically shut out all non-Quebec candidates as the other provinces' members compensate for the democratic deficit by choosing only from Quebec. That is bad for everyone. Bad for the other provinces and candidates who actually might have been able to get support in Quebec but now face a need for membership to show how Quebec friendly they are in the context of the disproportionately low weight for Quebec. Candidates from outside Quebec will become unelectable in this context unless the party wants to be blown out of the water in the next election. Having the leadership done with so little voice from Quebec means the only result the party can come back from would be a Quebec leader. That is not democratic either and equally insulting to a leader from Quebec who will want to claim legitimacy. And of course it is a repudiation of the support the party earned in the last election and would put a lie to the notion that the NDP really understands and can adapt to Quebec's distinctiveness.

We must have a campaign to get the party to see reason on this issue and guarantee-- somehow -- representation from Quebec in the selection of the leader that is no less than the population weight of Quebec within Canada-- at minimum. A set 25% might be better.

A fear of being labeled as pandering to Quebec could lead us to selling out our Quebec support and our belief in the uniqueness and importance of Quebec in Canada. I'd rather answer the accusations of pandering than reverse all we have done to come to terms with Quebec's uniqueness and our relevance there-- work Jack and others struggled to complete over many years. There is a good answer to the first and no excuse for the second.

I worry that because Turmel is our current leader she might be trying to prove she is not pandering to Quebec by refusing to put in an essential policy for the convention which would be to ensure Quebec an appropriate stake in the leadership vote.

On this one, please do not shoot the messenger-- Chantal is right and has written her article early enough for the party to fix this. Please read her words at the link as a media observer and consider mine here as coming from a New Democrat wanting the best for the party and the country.

Stockholm

I see her point, but I think having the NDP suddenly adopt a system giving every riding equal weight is a very blunt instrument and would be something that no wing of the NDP has ever done. Even when the NDP had delegated conventions to pick leaders - they always pro-rated the number of delegates each riding was entitled to by the number of party members in that riding.

Realistically, to make a change to the voting system that is as drastic as what Chantal Hebert is suggesting would probably require a two-thirds majority vote at a party convention! - so its simply not on for now.

I do think that the NDP should (and I'm sure will) go on a major membership drive in Quebec. There is no reason why the party shoudln't be able to go from 1,750 to 20,000 or so members over the next 5 months. The federal Tories and Liberals have no provincial parties either and they each still have tens of thousands of members in Quebec. I think I read that even teeny-weeny Quebec Solidaire has something like 6,000 members!

If Quebecers feel enthusiastic about any of the candidates and want a say in who gets in - going to npd.ca and plunking down $5 (or whatever it costs) seems like a small price to pay to be part of the process. I have to say that i still have an open mind towards supporting Mulcair for leader - but I wish he would talk less about how the system is somehow stacked against him and instead make people want to join the party to support him!

Stockholm

BTW: I have suggested several times that the party ought to consider giving the parliamentary caucus a 25% weight in the choice of a leader (since he or she will be leading them!) - that would instantly give the 59 Quebecers in caucus 15% of all those votes needed to pick a leader! - but no one seemed enamoured of that - oh well.

David Young

This sounds like Meech Lake all over again!

In a word, Sean...NO!  Canada is not Quebec, and then everyone else.

Canada is made up of 10 Provinces and 3 Territories, each of which is distinct.

I am one person who believes in the NDP, and my one vote should have exactly the same standing as any other citizen in this country.

Romeo Saganash thinks that it is a challenge, and that every challenge brings an opportunity.

That's fine with me!

 

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

Quote:

Julian’s status as a likely candidate, meanwhile, was elevated after B.C. MP Kennedy Stewart and Montreal MP Isabelle Morin said they would endorse his candidacy.

So far, only party president Brian Topp and Quebec MP Romeo Saganash have entered the race.

“I don’t think we need a Quebecer to represent Quebec. … We know Tom Mulcair is very popular in Quebec, but I don’t know about the rest of Canada,” Morin said.

“I think we need someone who will join all the parts of Canada, not just Quebec. I don’t want to become the Bloc Québécois NDP. I want to stay the NDP for all Canadians.”

I expect people like Isabelle and Romeo will be selling lots of memberships.  If the people of Quebec want to join the NDP they have 5 months.  I have great faith in the political smarts of the Quebec voters so I suspect that with the NDP as the government in waiting the membership will jump in leaps and bounds.  We should trust the people of Quebec not presume they need any special deal.  

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/business/Vancouver+veteran+Davies+opts+ag...

robbie_dee

Federal Council has already adopted rules for a one member, one vote leadership election. As of just over a week ago, the main leadership contenders, including Mulcair, [url=http://www.torontosun.com/2011/09/10/potential-ndp-leadership-hopefuls-h... they were happy with that.[/url]

 

I argued, [url=http://rabble.ca/babble/canadian-politics/federal-council-meeting-sept-9]in an earlier thread[/url], for a 25% set-aside for Quebec (or in the alternative, equal weighting of all riding associations, which would have substantially the same effect). I still think its a good idea, but unfortunately I believe that ship has sailed.

pookie

A reasonable suggestion Stockholm.  I presume that would fall under some general discretion in the bylaws so that it would not require a constitutional amendment.

Sean in Ottawa

Stockholm-- What about my compromise which is not to weight by riding association but by province? So regardless of the number of members all provinces be weighted either according to their population or their number of seats in the House (big difference for PEI) so I would suggest number of seats in the House. This means you have instead of one race you have 13 races each result is multiplied by the percentage that province/territory has in the House of Commons. So PEI has 4 seats so the percentages for each candidate are multiplied by 4/308. Then you add those numbers up.

 

David Young-- this is not about giving any part of the country way over its weight in the House or way less. It is about respecting the voters as well as the members. You don't like 25% given to Quebec when their population is 20%? Are you really saying that 1-4% would be okay? How fair is it to something like a million people who voted NDP to have their province reduced to almost nothing? How practical is that for the NDP?

These are some facts:

- Quebec is the only province in the country without an NDP provincial party-- this is a disadvantage laid on top of a crisis in time given how new the NDP support is in the province.

- Quebec gave the NDP massive support in an election -- they did not know we would have a leadership race so soon. There is almost nothing on the ground to work with.

David if you say no to Quebec-- treat it like everything else now, have no acknowledgement of the support Quebec gave in the last election -- not care if while Quebec is over 20% of the population it could have as little as 1% voting at convention. Does that leave the rest of Canada better off when Quebec realizes the NDP did not mean it when it recognized Quebec as distinct and important? If Quebec gets a 1-2% total stake in the leadership vote do you think the party ought to expect significant support in the next election?

So if Quebec takes back that support in the next election and gives it to a party that would at least give it a share equal to its population in a leadership vote-- what part of the country is better off as the NDP goes back down to 30 seats? Which part of the party, sitting on principle, will be satisfied with the implications of having a leadership vote with few votes being cast in Quebec?

If Quebec's vote were to be balanced to equal its population then candidates from outside Quebec will be viable. I suspect if Quebec is denied a share of the vote equal to its population, the rest of Canadians will not even consider voting for a candidate that does not come from Quebec-- just to make up for an imbalance that will cause a crisis in the party.

Your perspective has been blown out of the water by timing as a practical approach. Had Layton lived he could have spent 4 years growing the party membership in Quebec, fought the next election as leader with a closer balance and then some time in the future a leadership vote would be held without this problem. But are you really prepared to ignore the reality we are in today about to have a convention to vote on a leader with almost no members from a province that gave us half our support? You don't think that is risky -- if not suicidal?

Consider this-- then why hold the vote now? Why not build the party in Quebec for a year and then hold a vote? If we decide we must rush to a leadership vote now (unlike the Liberals for example) then we should consider resolving the problem of the lack of membership in Quebec in a way other than shrugging Anglo shoulders and saying tough-- we believe in radical individualism?

Why not take out Ads in Quebec telling them they were wrong to support us because we did not believe they were distinct or important-- that was the bargain we made with those voters. We told them that was what we believed. A little late now to say well everyone is all the same and if you don't have anywhere near the members tough shit for having voted for a new political party so keen on not accommodating you that we would rush in to a leadership vote knowing there is no time to make up the ground.

I like Saganash. I am supporting his campaign. I understand he will take up whatever challenge we give and he is used to fighting unfairness. Still, I see no reason for the NDP to hold a convention in haste so rigged against Quebec that it has no chance of matching its weight in the federation to the voting floor. -- just because they took the big risk of supporting us suddenly and so overwhelmingly.

No, David, this is not a debate that risks leaving Quebec with more than "its fair share" it is a debate running the risk of almost shutting Quebec out when half our MPs come from there. It is about throwing the votes of Quebeckers back in their faces.

David, how much accommodation do you think is good for any part of Canada? I would suggest this for any province-- and did. Quebec is the most glaring example but not the only one. We have other parts of the country we earned new support in. I would propose this for any province, although admittedly with more urgency for Quebec which I believe is distinct. If the NDP had suddenly gained a large amount of support in BC and had never been alive on the ground there and there was no provincial party there -- I would propose we balanced the vote there to be weighted at no less than their weight in the federation.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Nice to see you posting here again Sean. Interesting topic and lots to think about.

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

All Quebec voters have to do is consolidate their support by paying their $10 fee and becoming a member.  I see nothing the matter with treating Quebec voters as sophisticated and capable of appreciating the benefits of having a say in the NDP leadership.  I don't understand this need to solve problems for others that they themselves don't appear to be bothered by.  

If I was a candidate I would look at Quebec as fertile ground for new members.  I sincerely hope that meet and greets and debates will be attended by many times more supporters than actual members. If they come away without a card and the right to vote it will be because they are not interested.  If the supporters who elected all those MP's sign up in large numbers they could have more than 25% of the total votes.

Unionist

What's this "leader" fetish anyway?

I suggest the NDP forget about having a "leader", and adopt the [url=http://quebecsolidaire.net/collegial-leadership]QS model[/url]. They could start with a spokesperson from Québec and another from elsewhere.

What do you think, Sean?

 

Sean in Ottawa

Robbie-- Mulcair got some things he was looking for and must be careful what he says to avoid being shut out of the rest of Canada-- he expressed the problem so he still sees the fact that Quebec has only 2% of national membership as a problem. This is a discrepancy of about ten times the weight.

And people are still objecting in many circles to a party drive for members in Quebec.

Sure-- do the drive-- get the most you can -- but in this case why not set the floor weight to be no less than the population percentage Quebec has. If the gap can be closed this is just a guarantee.

Are any of you considering the impact this has on candidates from outside Quebec? Knowing Quebec could have almost no voice in this vote-- the rest of the membership could feel the obligation to speak for Quebec. That is terrifying as it can sink all candidates from outside Quebec and may already have-- who would want to run in this dynamic? Maybe there is a reason for the reluctance of people from out of Quebec wanting to run-- they could conclude that they have no chance and that without Quebec being able to vote in enough numbers any nonQuebec leader would cripple the party.

I am genuinely frightened of what it will mean to the party if we have a great membership drive and manage to almost quintuple our membership in Quebec-- something that would be a great feat only to see the province have less than 10% of the vote for the leader-- while having 58% of the seats. That is a recipe for disaster.

We are effectively proposing a 1,000 metre race where Quebec starts 500 metres before the starting line and is expected to run a sprint to win.

As I say we could have had a weighted vote for all provinces, we could have recognized the special circumstance and set aside Quebec's population percentage, we could have announced a massive special drive for members in Quebec as a part of the race outlined at the start, we could have delayed the race by another year to allow a catch up. Instead we propose none of those things and pretend it is fair.

Now let me be clear when I use the word fair. I don't mean fair to Quebec. I mean fair to the party which presumably wants a chance to consolidate this new support. It seems people here would rather say no to ALL accommodation. Perhaps they prefer having only one member from Quebec too.

Pogo Pogo's picture

The BC Liberals used a weighted system and it work very effectively I thought.

Sean in Ottawa

Northern Shoveler wrote:

All Quebec voters have to do is consolidate their support by paying their $10 fee and becoming a member.  I see nothing the matter with treating Quebec voters as sophisticated and capable of appreciating the benefits of having a say in the NDP leadership.  I don't understand this need to solve problems for others that they themselves don't appear to be bothered by.  

If I was a candidate I would look at Quebec as fertile ground for new members.  I sincerely hope that meet and greets and debates will be attended by many times more supporters than actual members. If they come away without a card and the right to vote it will be because they are not interested.  If the supporters who elected all those MP's sign up in large numbers they could have more than 25% of the total votes.

Not so simple-- the CBC already covered that many people don't even know how to go about it-- where to go. It takes time to put together a drive like this.

This is not about fairness for Quebec-- this is about a chance for the party to hold the support it just won-- and to prove it deserves it, frankly.

 

Sean in Ottawa

Unionist wrote:

What's this "leader" fetish anyway?

I suggest the NDP forget about having a "leader", and adopt the [url=http://quebecsolidaire.net/collegial-leadership]QS model[/url]. They could start with a spokesperson from Québec and another from elsewhere.

What do you think, Sean?

 

I think there is a lot wrong with our political system and culture. I don't think a party without a "leader" in that model could work right now. If we want to work toward that we would need to move in that direction -- changing the culture.

There would only be one person representing the party in official roles as that cannot be changed by a party unilaterally -- who is the Official Opposition leader? Who attends debate? Who lives at Stornoway (small point but symbolic)? The NDP is breaking new ground by its very position -- I would not want it to take this on as well.

I can't get why a one-time guarantee of Quebec's population weight in the vote would be so problematic. Weren't you all delighted when we got all that support? Didn't you understand what that meant to Quebec and the responsability we have?

Sure we should not pander to Quebec as some call it-- should not base everythign on Quebec-- that is one extreme but failing to ensure that Quebec would have a proportioante vote at a leadership convention held less tahn a year after this historic breakthrough is the other extreme and it could be devastating.

nicky

 

It is good to see you back Sean. I think the issue you and Chantal Hebert  raise is exceptionally important and the NDP will ignore it at its peril.

A  Quebec  carve-out was extensively canvassed on Babble in the Leadership thread in the week leading up to the Federal Council meeting in mid Sept. I made a number of points in various posts that are similar to your arguments. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, or a Cassandra, I will summarize some of them.

A  Quebec  carve-out can be justified for many reasons

  • - Quebec provided 36% of the votes that the NDP received in the last election. As matters stand it will only have 2% of the weight in the leadership decision. That is just politically grotesque.

 

  • - It has 24% of the population.

 

  • - Saskatchewan has about 10% of the weight in the leadership. It elected no MPs. Alberta which has one MP and Manitoba which has two also both have about 10%. BC with 10% of the population currently has 35% of the leadership vote.

 

  • - There have been long-standing institutional advantages for membership recruitment in the ROC which Quebec is denied. The party has shown success in the ROC going back to CCF days. In Quebec only in the last few months. There is no provincial party in Quebec and little in the way of a machine to facilitate membership recruitment.

 

 

  • - Political exigencies have advantaged membership growth recently in the ROC - a hotly contested provincial leadership campaign in BC. Provincial elections with numerous nomination fights in five other provinces and two territories.

 

  • - Even though the vote is delayed till March, there is little prospect of the Quebec membership reaching anything like its share of the population. Other provinces , with more entrenched party structures, will continue to sell memberships and will likely outpace Quebec. The raw numbers may grow substantially in Quebec without greatly affecting its percentage.

 

 

  • - The party itself has gone on record in support of a minimum guarantee for Quebec representation in Parliament. How can it justify limiting Quebec to an infinitesimal weight in the leadership selection?

The point has been made that a constitutional amendment would have been necessary to assign guaranteed weights to various provinces. As I posted before I just don't think that is so. To quote myself as a constitutional authority here is what I posted on Sept. 4:

"It seems clear to me that the Federal Council has startlingly wide discretion in deciding the rules for the leadership vote. Clause 3 (a)(iii) says simply: "The Council shall determine other leadership selection guidelines."

This seems to include whether there is an affiliate carve-out at all as well as how large it should be.

The Constitution surprisingly does not provide for OM (or woman)OV. It merely says in 3 (a) (ii), "Every member is entitled to cast a ballot for the selection of the leader." It says nothing about whether those ballots should count equally or be weighted.

Significantly the word "ballot" is used in this clause but not in clause 3 (a) (ii) which says that the leader will be elected by a majority of the "votes" cast. I suspect that this distinction was meant to provide for an affiliate carve-out at the discretion of the Council. A "ballot" is therefore not necessarily the same thing as a "vote."

But it also appears to empower the Council to weight the ballots between provinces, ridings or even MPs. In other words the Council could decide to give Quebec a quarter of the voting strength.

Is there anyone who has a different interpretation?

I wonder if there are any proposals to have the Council assign weights to various entities including affiliates and provinces. Does anyone know?"

 

 

Indeed this provision seems to have been the vehicle for the proposed affiliate carve-out. Why not  a Quebec carve-out?

That is the broken record part. Here is the Cassandra part.

Imagine that Mulcair or some other Quebec candidate is narrowly denied the leadership notwithstanding overwhelming support in Quebec and that his loss is attributed to Quebec only having 4 or 5% of the votes.  Quebecers will say quite rightly that we have discounted their support. That it is OK for them to vote for us but not to have any significant influence in the party. We will be called hypocrites for proposing a guaranteed weight for Quebec in Parliament  where in the councils of our party it is next to negligible.  Every seat we won in Quebec will be in peril.

And here is my solution. Most of the serious potential candidates profess some roots in Quebec. All acknowledge it is crucial to the party's success. I think all candidates should be invited to petition Federal Council to change the rules so that Quebec does have a proportional weight in the leadership vote. If they are united in this then changing the rules should be a very simple matter. If any desist then we will judge whether they place their personal ambitions ahead of the interests of the party.

Sean in Ottawa

RevolutionPlease wrote:
Nice to see you posting here again Sean. Interesting topic and lots to think about.

I regret to say I did not want to come back and doubt I will post on many topics or often again-- this is not a return.

I consider this issue to be an emergency for the NDP and so important that I would do what I don't feel good about and that is posting here where a moderator can censor opinion for personal reasons and personally get involved in personal attacks. I spent a while agonizing over whether I would just PM a few people or post openly about my fear for the NDP.

I believe this place has a leadership crisis but I am more concerned with the NDP's leadership crisis so I have posted anyway.

I hope that one day Rabble can consider that it too has a responsibility to the space it takes up in the political media spectrum and bring in some basic standards for mod behavior including how to manage conflicts of interest-- letting other mods take over when there is a problem. Anyway, I say this only to make clear that there is still a problem for me here and things are not ok and I still don't accept as reasonable what happened when I left. But I do not want to derail this further by discussing it all here. Those who now find themselves more committed to this place than I now do can discuss it in rabble reactions if the censor does not come in and shut them down. And if that censorship continues then you too might want to decide if this place is worth it. Enmasse has a different atmosphere-- far fewer people but none of this heavy handed stuff. I came here to reach more people quickly not out of any pleasure in the way things are done here.

Sorry but I guess I owe an explanation and there it is.

Sean in Ottawa

Thanks Nicky-- I would argue that the failure to guarantee in these special circumstances a proportional weight to Quebec will actually make it more difficult to recruit members in Quebec. This insensitivity to basic fairness and proportional equality could make membership a hard sell in Quebec.

I think the party could establish a one person one vote rule for the future and explain an exception given the timing of this vote less than a year since the support materialized.

Otherwise, the party can take out big ads in Quebec and do the most visible fundraising drive ever from HQ. But to leave it up to members to have to start from next to nothing, no provincial lists, and so few members they don't even have much word of mouth communication is just not good enough.

dacckon dacckon's picture

If there are social democrats in Quebec, they should be recruitied into the party. Its that simple. By saying, oh don't worry its weighted, means that they won't join and contribute the resources necessary to the party.

 

Furthermore, a weighted system can result in unexpected results. I will create an example out of thin air, not based on the provinces, but a necessary example nonetheless. Imagine a province, with 60% of Canada's population. A majority of members (lets say 80%) in the NDP come outside this imaginary province. But theres something more to this province, it is incredibly right-wing. Now, under a weighted system, the results would constantly favour a third way candidate.  Even through a SOLID majority do not. The majority is trumped by a minority, leading to unhealthy results down the road. Seeing this as a third way party, a majority of people who consider themselves third way/blairite join, and the rest leave forming another party.

 

Or, the solution is to recruit members who represent the progressive socio-democratic majority of the party. My hypothetical example does not reflect Quebec. It merely shows the danger of a weighted system. In quebec, a majority of people are social democrats, stretching from third way'ers to actually evolutionary socialists and I guess you can add some menesheviks/ecosocialists from the QS. All in all, it would be a nice balance and it would not take us to the extreme centre or extreme left. But they have to be recruited, not weighted. They have to contribute money to a party they believe in by taking membership cards out! And do not forget, people change. Regions once left leaning may turn right over the decades, and vice-versa. Beware the dangers of weighted voting. Just because union members aren't weighted, doesn't mean that they are not influencial within the party. The end goal is to be a big tent progressive party. Lets make it so, member by member.

 

nicky

I think Roobie D made the point in a previous thread that a weighted vote for Quebec would encourage, not restrict, membership recruitment. He argued that candidates would have an extra incentive to sign up new mwmbers in Quebec because they would have extra weight up to the point that Quebec reeached prpotionality. Similarly, individuals in Quebec would have the same incentive knowing their vote counted for something extra.

nicky

Northern Shoveler's numbers are wrong.  1,640,000 Quebecers voted NDP. He undercounts the figure by ONE MILLION.

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

Tell me Unionist since you are politcally active in Quebec, How many people will decide to buy or not buy an NDP membership based on whether or not there is a weighted system.  It all seems pretty airy fairy to me because I doubt if it would have much effect on the politcally active people I know in BC. 

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

nicky wrote:

Northern Shoveler's numbers are wrong.  1,640,000 Quebecers voted NDP. He undercounts the figure by ONE MILLION.

You know I kept going over the numbers because they didn't seem to add up.  NB in the chart I looked at has NB at 115,8301.  

thx post edited above

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

In the last election our FPTP gave 1,639,147 Quebec's NDP voters 59 MP's.  In BC 609,102 NDP voters elected 12 MP's.  Yes there is a large structural imbalance in our political system. The Ontario NDP elected 22 MP's with 417,435 citizens voting for the party. Your 58% argument based on the number of seats is an argument based on the stupidity of the FPTP system.  If this leadership race needs to be weighted then it should be about individual NDP supporters in each province not how many seats our fucked system allocated. 

If you wanted to make it fair to NDP voters then provincial weighting should be by people who voted for the party.  4,512,411 people voted for the party in the last election.  So under my system Quebec as the province with the largest voter support would have the highest ratio and BC with the second highest voter total would be second.  36.3% for Quebec 13.5% for BC based on the actual numbers of voters who supported the party. Ontario with its 417,435 NDP voters would get a 9.25% weighting.   

Because it just went through a long leadership campaign the BC NDP has nearly 30,000 members or about 5% of its federal supporters. Seems to me politically savvy Quebec voters if they care about the party will sign up.  Given that they can continue to belong to any provincial political party they want to there is no impediment to buying a vote in the NDP race.  

Here's to Quebec having at least 20,000 members by the spring.

Policywonk

Northern Shoveler wrote:

Because it just went through a long leadership campaign the BC NDP has nearly 30,000 members or about 5% of its federal supporters. Seems to me politically savvy Quebec voters if they care about the party will sign up.  Given that they can continue to belong to any provincial political party they want to there is no impediment to buying a vote in the NDP race.  

Here's to Quebec having at least 20,000 members by the spring.

I think it's premature to say that Quebec will not have 15-20 thousand members by the cut-off date. It is essential for the Party and the candidates to have a credible membership sign-up between now and then. An average of 300-350 new members for the incumbent ridings alone should do it.  Aside from the constitution having been interpreted as OMOV, a guaranteed weighting for Quebec or equal weighting per constituency would not provide enough incentive to sign up members in Quebec.

Sean in Ottawa

I don't have trouble weighting the vote by number of voters, by seats in the House or by population. I don't have trouble making this a one-time exception either presuming that in the next few years supporters would have time to catch up. I even don't have trouble with a one-year delay in the vote to allow the catch-up but I feel an exception now is better because we want a permanent leader sooner.

NS- I raised the absurdity of 58% coming from Quebec but did not mean to propose that a FPTP system would be the weighting (then there would be no vote for Saskatchewan). Sorry for any confusion on that. I was pointing to an extreme difference creating an urgency to do better not thinking we would go by elected MPs.

Having a 25% carveout for MPs as proposed by Stockholm is interesting in that it helps balance provinces a bit better but it takes too much power from rank and file members and that is why I prefer a different weighting than any carve out of that kind.

I only have trouble with going in without any consideration that this hard won support came suddenly and there is no infrastructure to translate that quickly enough in to membership so some special response is required.

As I have said I would also not have had trouble with the NDP investing heavily on the ground for a major membership drive in Quebec dropping a lot of money in the process in making sure that it could be done quickly. Letting that be up to the individual candidates to take responsibility is not appropriate as the imbalance is a party problem and the party should address it.

As discussed there are lots of ways to do this: delay, extra resources for a drive, weighting by pop, by votes in the last election, by seats in the house and doing so permanently or only in a one-time effort.

There are ways to avoid this imbalance and acknowledge the issue-- Hébert and I have both reacted to the fact that the party has not produced a plan to address this and that a clear and advertised plan should have been part of the rules, scheduling or an announcement made at that time. Now they better move forward with something or the party will suffer for it in my view.

We should all accept this is a practical problem with multiple solutions that do not have to result in tainting of principles, and that the choices made can either avoid an exception to the rules or create one if it turns out to work well-- no matter as long as it is dealt with.

when we are talking about members we need to remember that members are not just rights holders. They also have responsibilities to represent the supporters of the party-- voters. They are the essential bridge between the party and the voters and any discussion of weighting and management of voting must take that into account.

Stockholm

"Imagine that Mulcair or some other Quebec candidate is narrowly denied the leadership notwithstanding overwhelming support in Quebec and that his loss is attributed to Quebec only having 4 or 5% of the votes."

We would never actually kow that to be the case because the NDP has not and I'm sure will not release any provincial breakdowns of the vote. There will be no way of ever actually knowing how members in province x voted compared to the the rest of the country.

Unionist

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

 

I think there is a lot wrong with our political system and culture. I don't think a party without a "leader" in that model could work right now. If we want to work toward that we would need to move in that direction -- changing the culture.

There would only be one person representing the party in official roles as that cannot be changed by a party unilaterally -- 

Why not? What if the "leader" is ill under the current system? Can't the party name, say, an interim, or alternate leader? If that can't be changed unilaterally, how did QS do it, working within the same parliamentary system?

Quote:
... who is the Official Opposition leader?

Where did you find that title? In the Constitution? In some statute? It's pure custom, which can be changed any old time. Who dictates to the NDP that they must have a "Leader"?

Quote:
Who attends debate?

Whoever the broadcast media cartel decides, as you well know. But if you mean which individual, do you really think someone could dictate to the NDP that either they send someone called a "Leader" or they don't get to participate??

Quote:
Who lives at Stornoway (small point but symbolic)?

Excellent point. The Reform Party originally said it wouldn't live at Stornoway. Were they taken to task by some constitutional experts for violating the very foundations of Canadian democracy? Upon becoming official opposition, it would have been a very fine gesture if the NDP had renounced that bizarre symbol of two-party rule.

Quote:
The NDP is breaking new ground by its very position -- I would not want it to take this on as well.

Unfortunately, Sean, that last statement risks being the mantra of the NDP in opposition for the next few years, unless we encourage it to keep breaking new ground.

 

Sean in Ottawa

Policywonk wrote:

Northern Shoveler wrote:

Because it just went through a long leadership campaign the BC NDP has nearly 30,000 members or about 5% of its federal supporters. Seems to me politically savvy Quebec voters if they care about the party will sign up.  Given that they can continue to belong to any provincial political party they want to there is no impediment to buying a vote in the NDP race.  

Here's to Quebec having at least 20,000 members by the spring.

I think it's premature to say that Quebec will not have 15-20 thousand members by the cut-off date. It is essential for the Party and the candidates to have a credible membership sign-up between now and then. An average of 300-350 new members for the incumbent ridings alone should do it.  Aside from the constitution having been interpreted as OMOV, a guaranteed weighting for Quebec or equal weighting per constituency would not provide enough incentive to sign up members in Quebec.

I think a party that does not consider it essential to make sure that a province the size and import of Quebec get an appropriate weight in the process would not provide enough incentive.

Have you signed up members at this rate or been part of a campaign that ever did this? Adding 20k members is a feat so great that it cannot be counted on. Of course there are other options-- delay, additional party resources etc. as well.

The problem is there are also Federal rules in financing so the party cannot just give each candidate the extra money to be able to chase down memberships in Quebec.

Still I appreciate that some people are thinking creatively about a solution rather than just saying it can take care of itself. I don't even know if the party could consider dropping the membership fee across the country to encourage new members -- say to $2. We'll still bug them all for donations (I get those weekly it seems...).

Like I say we needed a plan -- we need a plan -- to address this and there are so many ways to help make sure that Quebec has a strong voice in this leadership race that it is completely unacceptable that we do nothing. If the party is allowed to advertise where people can sign up that might be a consideration.

 

 

Stockholm

BTW: I WANT to like Thomas Mulcair in the leadership contest. I have an open mind towards him. But the the things he has been saying lately (and perhaps the media has distorted his comments) - make me think that he is still in the groove of "representing Quebec to the NDP" rather than "representing the NDP to Quebec and the other provinces". If Mulcair wants my vote he is going to have to show me that he is a NATIONAL candidate with sensitivities to issues and concerns in all provinces and territories. For starters, I'd like to see him campaign across Ontario for Andrea Horwath and then do the same in Newfoundland.

Sean in Ottawa

Unionist-- all fair comment. You are right-- I should give the QS model more thought. Do you think in spite of any lack of legal obstacles we could overcome the political culture so quickly to make this work without it just being presumed we don't have someone who can do the job? What of the value in personality and connection we got from Layton? Can we abandon that opportunity now?

in any case-- I agree with your sentiments and I do hope that the new leader  will look to create a different type of less top-down governance. I support Saganash in part because I feel he might bring in some of that difference.

Another point I feel strongly about and that is the participation of Quebec is not just a right for them -- it is a benefit for us. Quebec has as you illustrate some unique ideas. Being sure to have Quebec be a strong part of this process will make us all better off.

But yes unionist, I was too quickly dismissive of the QS model idea and we should give it more consideration. thank you for responding in such detail.

Sean in Ottawa

Stockholm-- while off the topic, your comments on Mulcair campaigning in Ontario and NL-- and for that matter SK, MB and PEI and Yukon -- are well taken. I hope someone on his campaign are seeing this. Ditto for the other leaders. (I will make the point to one of them myself.)

nicky

Stockholm writes:

We would never actually kow that to be the case because the NDP has not and I'm sure will not release any provincial breakdowns of the vote. There will be no way of ever actually knowing how members in province x voted compared to the the rest of the country.

 

There will certainly be surveys and you can bet the media will dwell on this kind of split.

 

Leger recently polled NDP voters and published that in Quebec almost half preferred Mulcair and only about 2% Topp. Do you really think we could hide this dirty secret in the closet?

Pogo Pogo's picture

The Federal Liberals used to have a system of equal delegates per riding whether it was Liberal or not.  I don't know if I support a Quebec carve out, but I would consider a system that allocates an equal voice to each riding. 

Stockholm

Another option that the Tories considered (but rejected) and that would right the balance somewhat was to give every riding a minimum of 10 "points" and a maximum of 40 points with the number of points determined by the number of members. This way even the smallest riding association can never have less than 25% of the vote of the largest one. 

nicky

So, is there any mechanism for getting the rule changed in time for the March vote?

Is it an option to get the candidates or maybe the MPs from Quebec to ask for such a change?

Are we just talking or is there something we can do?

Are any candidates or MPs listening?

Sean in Ottawa

Let's not forget there are other options to vote weighting-- that is one but the NDP if they were paying attention to this could announce a well-funded membership drive in Quebec aimed at getting the numbers up-- that might work and if it did it would take the pressure off.

Maybe someone in the party has still another idea but I sure hope some have their thinking caps on becuase the party has not addressed this adequately in my view.

Wilf Day

I have advocated for years the equality of ridings provision that the PC Party uses in Ontario, and the federal PC Party used to use (unlike the Reform Party), and which Peter McKay insisted be used by the federal Conservative Party. They did this to prevent the hard-core zealots in the party strongholds dominating the party, to the detriment of those who wanted to reach out to a broader base, often because they were in ridings held by other parties. Quebec was the prime example. Sounds like our current debate, eh?

I never found many people agreeing with me. It would have taken a constitutional amendment. I don't think any riding ever submitted such an amendment. I never even tried to get my riding to do so, since I knew it would go nowhere.

So we have an OMOV system. That's beyond debate.

I heard Peter Julian say weeks ago that the Quebec section once had 15,000 members, and he had no doubt the figure would be well above that by the time of the leadership vote. I think it will be between 25,000 and 35,000. In order to get there, of course everyone will need to work at it: all candidates, the party organizers, our friends in the labour movement.

In Quebec the teachers have their own public-sector unions' central, the CSQ; Anne Minh-Thu Quach was/is very active in it, sitting on its general council. I expect many others were also, such as Robert Aubin.
http://www.radio-canada.ca/nouvelles/Politique/2011/03/23/003-csq-contre-conservateurs.shtml

 

 

It's Me D

Sean wrote:
Let's not forget there are other options to vote weighting-- that is one but the NDP if they were paying attention to this could announce a well-funded membership drive in Quebec aimed at getting the numbers up-- that might work and if it did it would take the pressure off.

I've been wanting to contribute financially to this leadership race. Perhaps members like me could make a directed contribution to be used in a Quebec membership drive? I think I'd rather contribute to that than to a particular candidate's spending; now that you mention it...

Gaian

Thanks for bringing this forward, Sean. The other parties are hoping this ball is fumbled, particularly the Bloc, which would so love to trumpet New Democratic failure at its own leadership convention in December. It must re-assemble the lost, social democratic flock under a nationalist shepherd or fail.

One can only hope that party central has an answer in mind, avoids shining a light on the numerical lopsidedness that has always been the weak link in Confederation...and that would be used again by political enemies to stymie social democratic progress. The media are searching for any sign of conflict. A hint of conflict across cultural lines would be tragic, with so much progress having been made. The importance of bringing that group of bright, optimistic youngsters before the entire Canadian political audience cannot be overstated. All avenues much be explored.

ottawaobserver

Unionist wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

 ... who is the Official Opposition leader?

Where did you find that title? In the Constitution? In some statute? It's pure custom, which can be changed any old time. Who dictates to the NDP that they must have a "Leader"?

The Elections Act, actually. The leader signs the letter of endorsement of candidates, so that they get to have the party name after their name on the ballot, and only endorsed candidates' votes count towards the party's vote totals for the purpose of the public subsidies, for example.

The leader has a few other roles under the Act as well.

David Young

ottawaobserver wrote:

Unionist wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

 ... who is the Official Opposition leader?

Where did you find that title? In the Constitution? In some statute? It's pure custom, which can be changed any old time. Who dictates to the NDP that they must have a "Leader"?

The Elections Act, actually. The leader signs the letter of endorsement of candidates, so that they get to have the party name after their name on the ballot, and only endorsed candidates' votes count towards the party's vote totals for the purpose of the public subsidies, for example.

The leader has a few other roles under the Act as well.

OO

Does that mean that Nycole Turmel would have to be the one to sign the nomination forms if Harper schedules the Toronto-Danforth by-election to take place before the Leadership Convention in March?

 

KenS

 

Northern Shoveler wrote:

Because it just went through a long leadership campaign the BC NDP has nearly 30,000 members or about 5% of its federal supporters. Seems to me politically savvy Quebec voters if they care about the party will sign up.  Given that they can continue to belong to any provincial political party they want to there is no impediment to buying a vote in the NDP race.  

Here's to Quebec having at least 20,000 members by the spring.

Policywonk wrote:
I think it's premature to say that Quebec will not have 15-20 thousand members by the cut-off date. It is essential for the Party and the candidates to have a credible membership sign-up between now and then. An average of 300-350 new members for the incumbent ridings alone should do it.  Aside from the constitution having been interpreted as OMOV, a guaranteed weighting for Quebec or equal weighting per constituency would not provide enough incentive to sign up members in Quebec.

Splitting quote from my reply into two seperate posts to see if Babble will take it that way,

KenS

 

I'm not convinced that the NDP is effectively required to do something pro-active to address this imbalance.

But I'm certainly with Sean that the glib assurances are not on that the imbalance can easily be corrected; or might be, with no special attention.

Even politicaly savy people do not easily join anything- and least of all a political party. And they are even less inclined to do so where it is not an existing 'cultural phenomena'.... as it is in BC. [Not to mention that the BCNDP did not get to those membership numbers overnight, or in one leadership race, etc.]

Unfortunately, its not just a money/resources issue. For doing something in the time frame required, there is a basic infrastructure issue.

KenS

The weighting of votes thing gets into touchy internal issues as well as public optics.

I'm very skeptical that the 'Constitution was interpreted to require' that a labour [affiliate] carve out was out. I think that was an out of the glare of publicity discussion with a consensus agreement that included the large affiliates. But the point is moot: either the Constitution really needs to be so interpreted, or we have closed that door by making the precedent.

Not to mention that the balance with Quebec was for sure a major factor in that quiet discussion and the eventual decision- that a labour carve-out would aggravate an already unbalanced situation. So this would be re-opening the terms of that discussion. More than 'not easy'.

Devoting extra resources at least doesnt bump up hard against internal balancing and public optics.

KenS

Sheesh. A quote followed by 17 lines of text from me, on this poor old computer, is just too much for Babble to handle. Took spreading it through 3 posts.

Policywonk

David Young wrote:

ottawaobserver wrote:

Unionist wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

 ... who is the Official Opposition leader?

Where did you find that title? In the Constitution? In some statute? It's pure custom, which can be changed any old time. Who dictates to the NDP that they must have a "Leader"?

The Elections Act, actually. The leader signs the letter of endorsement of candidates, so that they get to have the party name after their name on the ballot, and only endorsed candidates' votes count towards the party's vote totals for the purpose of the public subsidies, for example.

The leader has a few other roles under the Act as well.

OO

Does that mean that Nycole Turmel would have to be the one to sign the nomination forms if Harper schedules the Toronto-Danforth by-election to take place before the Leadership Convention in March?

 

Yes.

Gaian

Gaian wrote:

Thanks for bringing this forward, Sean. The other parties are hoping this ball is fumbled, particularly the Bloc, which would so love to trumpet New Democratic failure at its own leadership convention in December. It must re-assemble the lost, social democratic flock under a nationalist shepherd or fail.

One can only hope that party central has an answer in mind, avoids shining a light on the numerical lopsidedness that has always been the weak link in Confederation...and that would be used again by political enemies to stymie social democratic progress. The media are searching for any sign of conflict. A hint of conflict across cultural lines would be tragic, with so much progress having been made. The importance of bringing that group of bright, optimistic youngsters before the entire Canadian political audience cannot be overstated. All avenues much be explored.

Having slept on this thought, it now seems to me that "party central" gave Ed Broadbent the task of anointing a fellow who - if an undisciplined party should just happen to ignore the central message in this thread - might not completely alienate the new spirit of social democracy in Quebec. (And is the current mood there really so very lop-sided as indicated above? And can Rabble bring us up to speed, reassure?)

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Have you signed up members at this rate or been part of a campaign that ever did this? Adding 20k members is a feat so great that it cannot be counted on. Of course there are other options-- delay, additional party resources etc. as well.

The BC NDP now has 30,000 members and it is my understanding that the membership more than doubled during the recent leadership race that is added over 15,000 members. 59 MP's offices signing up only 10 memberships per week times 26 weeks adds up to 15,340 members.   If BC can sign up those kinds of numbers with only about a third of the NDP voters then it should be doable in Quebec.  

Yes it is a daunting task but lets face it if someone had told you a year ago that the NDP needed to win 59 seats in Quebec me, you and everyone else would have said they were nuts to think we could go from 1 seat to 59.  Maybe just maybe the people of Quebec are capable of taking care of their own interests and don't need us to give them a hand except one extended in friendship that says joins with us.  I think talk of carve outs is actually sending a message to Quebec voters that we don't really believe they support the NDP and that it was all just a fluke unrelated to the party's policies and quality candidates.  

 

Gaian

Hopefully, those numerically massive constituencies would not just vote en bloc for their cultural cousins and leave the Quebec contingent to "explain things" about the historical nature of pan-Canadian politics. Talk of "their own interests" is not re-assuring. Any examples of a movement toward a tolerance that can incorporate "party interests" nationally?

ottawaobserver

Hi David, PolicyWonk is right, because the Act says that the Leader has to sign the letter of endorsement, and that the Leader is the one who is selected by that party through its own selection method. Nycole Turmel was selected at the summer Council meeting to be the Leader, and so she's it.

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