|Justin Trudeau - realpolitiek practitioner|
John Ibbitson in the Globe & Mail comments on the plans of the Trudeau team to use the changed constitution of the Liberal Party of Canada to enhance the chances of Trudeau not only winning the leadership contest, but of replacing Stephen Harper's tired Conservative government come 2015.
The Trudeau team understands that the political contours of Canadian politics has been forever changed by the bold experiment of the Liberals to allow non-members to have a say in electing the new leader:
But earlier this year, the Liberals created a new class of affiliates, called “supporters.” No fee or party membership is required for supporters to cast a ballot for leader. All they need do is sign up.
Team Trudeau aims to create supporter-recruitment machines in all 308 ridings (just as Obama for America did in all 50 states). They will employ every tool, from old-fashioned door knocking to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Many of these new supporters will be young, female and/or minorities – the same base that rallied behind Obama for America.
The riding campaigns will feed the names of these new supporters to campaign central, which will combine the information in a database that will, if it succeeds, contain hundreds of thousands of entries, each a mini profile of a Justin Trudeau supporter.
Assuming Mr. Trudeau wins the leadership, that new base of support will grow and deepen between the leadership vote next April and the general election in October, 2015.
The use of such an enlarged voter base in a primary system has had benefits in Britain, where the Cameron Conservatives have used it for choosing candidates to run as MPs, something the LPC did not agree to at its last convention. Hopefully, the next policy convention in 2014 – after the election of a leader of the party – will have a resolution put before it to amend the party's constitution to provide for the selection of candidates for MP using the same primary plus Supporters formula.
The primary system chosen by the Liberals is one of the few manifestations of the Arab Spring movement taking place in Canada. The first was the mass movement of Quebec voters from the do-nothing PQ to the Jack Layton NDP in our last federal election.
Justin Trudeau should be complimented for seizing the opprotunity to widen the participation of Canadians in the serious business of selecting the leader of the party that will most likely form the next government.