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
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.