An old-fashioned leadership race (with a new twist)


While the other parties have been experimenting with new-age leadership models, the NDP is sticking with tradition. The federal Liberals recently decided to skip leadership elections altogether and use the much more efficient ‘acclamation’ model. The provincial Tories on the other hand have displayed great determination in their apparent strategy to have a leader who doesn’t actually have a seat in government. While these leadership models are interesting, they seem to be less engaging and effective (respectively). So the NDP is going to follow in the old-fashioned tradition of having a leader who is both democratically chosen by thousands of people, and also has an actual job as an elected representative in government.

But the twist on the old-fashioned method is the “One Member One Vote” model that is being used by the provincial party for the first time (the federal NDP elected Jack Layton using this method). The old system was a ‘delegate model’ that put voting power into the hands of a small group of members, who were elected as ‘delegates’ by party members who live in their riding. The delegates would gather at a convention and would vote on behalf of the full membership of the party. “One Member One Vote” means that every party member can vote, either at convention or at home.

This new system puts power into the hands of every member of the party and increases engagement and participation. It also creates a logistical nightmare, as the votes are now coming in by phone, website and direct voting from the floor. All these votes need to be compiled and processed in a short period of time. The timeline is short, the tensions are high and there is no room for error. There are techies all around me with crossed fingers, knocking on wood. So far, everything seems to be working smoothly. I’ve been really impressed with the team behind this event. It’s a policy conference, half-time show, media event and province-wide election, all wrapped into one.

Candidates, party members, staff and observers are all mingling & pacing as we get close to the first ballot announcement. With four strong candidates, it’s widely expected that no one will win a majority on the first ballot. The numbers will be announced in 10 minutes. The candidate with the lowest vote will drop off, and the second ballot will begin with three remaining candidates.

Stay tuned!!…..


  Jessica wrote @

“also has an actual job as an elected representative in government”

Okay, as nice as most of this blog has been, this little screed is ridiculously two-faced and anti-democratic.

Jack Layton spent a year without an elected seat in parliament when he was chosen as leader of the federal NDP. There’s nothing wrong with prominent Canadians, such as Jack, who have a desire to contribute to public life running for positions within political parties.

You made a low, partisan dig at the other parties forgetting that yours is equally as culpable, not to mention the fact that your position is ant-democratic. Try looking into the constitution and history of your own party before you take swipes outside the tent.

  davemeslin wrote @

Hi Jessica!

Thanks for following our blog!

I think the difference is that when Jack ran for MP, he won. And if he hadn’t won, I would bet that someone else within the caucus would have made space for him. With Tory, he lost a riding in his own town, then his own caucus abandoned him, and then he lost again. Tory had to finally step down because his party elected a leader who couldn’t actually get into Queens Park. Jack had no problem getting into Ottawa. So I’m not really following your comparison….

The dig was definitely partisan (this is an NDP blog you know), but I don’t think it was ‘anti-democratic’. I appreciate the feedback though.

  Milton wrote @

Well it is no so much anti democratic but hypocritical.

Bill Blakie’s main dig against Jack Layton during the 2002/03 leadership was that he didn’t have a seat! And guess what, Jack was elected leader in January 03, and did not win a seat until June 04. I don’t recall any of his MPs making space for him for 18 months.

  davemeslin wrote @

I don’t think Jack asked anyone to make space for him during those 18 months. Both Layton and Tory ran for office at the first general election following their leadership bid. Tory lost. Layton won. No one in Tory’s caucus offered to help, until last month. Then he lost again.

I really think it’s a stretch to compare the two. Layton in – Tory out.

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