Liberal Leadership Race Begins

By Ed Corrigan

The Federal Liberal leadership convention will be held in Montreal on November 29th to December 3rd, 2006. The co-chairs of the convention will be Tanya Kappo (co-chair, Aboriginal People's commission and past candidate) and Dominic Leblanc, MP. In addition, the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) Management Committee members who have signed a neutrality statement will form the convention organizing committee and make a final decision on convention delegate fees in the near future.

This is a once in a decade, or so, opportunity to participate in democracy and selecting the next leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and quite possibly the next Prime Minister of Canada. Every leader of the Liberal Party, with the sole exception of Edward Blake, has been Prime Minister of Canada.

The Prime Minister appoints the cabinet, all government parliamentary positions, ambassadors and all new federal government appointments. The Prime Minister largely sets the direction and determines government policy within the structure of the laws of Canada and legislation passed by Parliament and interpreted by the Courts.

Each Federal Liberal Riding Association will elect 12 delegates to send to the Liberal leadership convention. The delegate break down is 4 men, 4 women and 4 youth, two of whom must be male and two female. Two members of the Senior Liberals Commission (one of whom shall be a man and one shall be a woman) can also be delegates. The nominated Liberal candidate and President of the riding association are ex-officio delegates. The riding also elects a number of alternates who can move up to be delegates if a delegate fails to show.

Each recognized Liberal university or college club also gets to elect 4 delegates, (two male and two female) and four alternates (two male and two female), to the leadership convention. Former Members of the Privy Council who are Liberals are also ex-officio delegates, typically former Liberal cabinet members and also Liberal Senators. National Liberal Party Executive members are also entitled to vote at the Leadership Convention.

In total there are 308 riding associations electing 4,312 delegates. There will also be approximately 850 ex-officio delegates, that is, delegates who do not need to be elected to attend the Convention with full voting rights. All accredited youth, women, and seniors clubs can elect delegates. There are also a number of delegates from the Aboriginal Peoples Commission. The total number of aboriginal Convention delegates is multiplied by the percentage of the Canadian population that is Aboriginal, according to the latest census.

In total, approximately 6,000 individuals will decide who will be the next leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. In order to participate in this leadership selection process one has to be a member in good standing of the Liberal Party of Canada in one of the above noted organizations by July 1, 2006, the cut-off date for new memberships. The Delegate Election Meetings will be held between September 29 and October 1, 2006. All candidates for the Liberal Party leadership must be registered by September 30, 2006.

For the price of a membership a person, who is not a member of another federal political party, can participate in the Liberal leadership selection process. The Liberal National Executive has approved online membership applications and the Liberal Party Canada (Ontario) (LPCO) will participate in this new initiative. You can join the Liberal Party on line or by contacting your local Liberal riding organization or club.

It is these 6,000 or so delegates that will determine the course of the Liberal Party of Canada for the next decade. The current members of the Liberal Party of Canada, and those who sign up before July 1, 2006, can vote to elect the delegates who will decide at the leadership convention who will be the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Altogether about 100,000 members in the Liberal Party of Canada will elect the 5,000 delegates who, in turn, will choose the next leader of the Liberal Party together with the 850 ex-officio delegates.

If you are a Liberal and interested in having your voice heard in the leadership election process, you should buy a membership for your local Liberal riding association or recognized Liberal club before July 1, 2006. You can even run as a delegate and attend the Convention.

Democracy is not a spectator sport. It requires participation. This leadership convention is a golden opportunity to help shape the future of the Liberal Party of Canada and possibly the future of Canada. How you participate is up to you but all Canada will have to live with the result.

Ed Corrigan is an Immigration lawyer with offices located in London Ontario at 383 Richmond St. Suite 902, tel. 519-439-4015 and at 3195 Erindale Station, Rd. in Mississauga, tel. 905-290-9018. He can be reached at corriganlaw@linkd.net

(Version March 29, 2006)