Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Brian Rice: The right person for President of the Liberal Party of Canada

Brian Rice - Political reformer par excellence
For many reasons, I believe that Liberals should elect Brian Rice as the next President of the Liberal Party. He is a mover and shaker, a man of ideas, an adept politician in his own right, and a very hard worker.

One very good reason for choosing Brian is his intention to make the choosing of our candidates for the next general election a far more efficient and representative one.

This is an extract from Brian’s blog, which was posted on Liblogs. I have bolded the two suggestions that I feel are particularly important if we are serious about using the selection of candidates to run as MP as a means to start cranking up excitement, signing up many more party members and supporters, and giving our members serious involvement in the selection process:

However, I do think the current system is flawed, and open for unacceptable gaming and abuse. In the past, we have regularly seen candidates or volunteers  pay for memberships, bus in their people to the selection meetings, and even give the false impression that the selection meeting is the actual election. We cannot allow these abuses to continue.

To combat these abuses, I propose that the next National Membership Secretary work with the National Campaign co-chairs to implement the following changes. None of these ideas requires a constitutional change, and they are completely within the power of the National Board.
  1. Reject any membership application that does not contain a valid email or telephone number.
  2. Make Liberalist available to each nomination candidate, and provide the membership lists to them  through Liberalist. This ensures that each nomination candidate has complete access to the lists, is able to contact each member and verify their identity, and that any data collected by the nomination campaign is retained by the party. (The campaign co-chairs have already implemented this.)
  3. Establish a membership verification process. The Party should ensure that every membership is purchased by someone who knows what they are buying, and actually wants to be a member. There are several ways we can accomplish this cheaply and effectively.
  4. Implement a registration process similar to the process used for the leadership.  The majority of improperly registered supporters during leadership were identified during the registration process.
  5. Implement secure online voting for all candidate selection meetings, using the same system we used for leadership. We would have an event for speeches, hold a secure one-week voting period for eligible members online or on the phone, set up rigorous scrutineering, and finish with a results meeting/party.
  6. Finally, give the power to the permanent appeals committee to deliver significant consequences (including disqualification from the race) to any candidate whose team is found to be in violation of the rules.

In addition to the above suggestions, we should also give nominees access to the supporters’ lists, to facilitate their transition to membership. Supporters have expressed an interest in being involved in our political process. Through Leadership, they had a taste of what being involved in a political party is like. By allowing our nominees to contact these supporters and try to gain their support, we would leverage the nomination races to turn these supporters into members.

Adding online voting for our choice of candidates for MP not only drags our party  into the modern age, but also will ensure a much wider voting result. It will also capitalize on the internet voting we used so successfully in electing our leader.

Making it easier for nominees to access supporters lists in order to convert them into paid up members of the party is a logical, sensible and innovative step – the kind of thinking that we need in the next president of the Liberal Party.

The creation of the new class of Supporters was our first major step towards making inroads into the highly important Untouched Constituency: the conversion of some Supporters to Members by nominees in our MP selection process would be another important step.

Go, Brian, go!

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