With some less than gentle prodding on this blog, it has been finally (almost grudgingly) confirmed that the Wildrose Party will be holding it’s AGM on November 23-24 in Edmonton at the Mayfair Inn. While this information is still not on the Wildrose Party website, a tweet from Danielle Smith has confirmed this.
A tweet from Wildrose Party VP Policy (Rob Ladouceur) has confirmed that policy and the party constitution will not be on the agenda at this year’s Annual General Meeting. It is unfortunate that getting answers for what should be simple questions is like pulling teeth these days and the best information comes from twitter rather than party releases or even the Wildrose Party website.
The bottom line is that the party is between a rock and a hard place. When it was discovered that an Annual General Meeting was a legal obligation, one was hastily slapped together for late November in Edmonton. The Wildrose Party constitution states that 120 days of notice must be given to members if policy or constitutional changes are to be considered. The deadline is past so it is impossible for policy and constitutional issues of the party to be addressed at the upcoming meeting. This is most unfortunate as so many have been saying that the Wildrose Party needs some robust policy debates soon.
There is one important matter that can and will be addressed at this fall’s AGM and that is the election of the Wildrose Party’s executive committee. Now according to section 5.1.1 of the Wildrose Party constitution: “Authority within the Party resides in it’s members”. That is a huge and critical principle and it is the foundation of the entire party.
The only real way the members can exercise that authority is through the direct election of the party executive committee. An active party executive ensures that the members concerns are addressed and should communicate between the membership and other elements within the party.
The Wildrose Party’s current executive committee apparently only held five meetings between June 2011 and June 2012!
What kind of party oversight is being provided when the Executive Committee only meets on average once every 73 days (in an election year no less)? In those few meetings apparently time was usually not set aside for reports from provincial directors so to those candidates and constituency volunteers who felt that their voices were not being heard by the powers that be in the party; you were absolutely right. While some PDs did want to raise issues and concerns to the board, they simply did not have the means or authority to call meetings.
Party President Paul Collins (who was unsurprisingly somehow acclaimed at the last AGM) while enjoying wearing the hat of Party President has been quite derelict in his duties. The responsibility to call board meetings is upon the Party President and it appears that Paul had little interest in going to that trouble. Outside of the board, has anybody really seen much of Paul Collins? I recall past presidents popping in to Constituency Association meetings and helping out greatly on the ground. Our current president has been largely invisible. This is indeed what happens when a party Executive has been stacked and given an unwritten mandate to marginalize itself. This allowed a certain element of staffers and the like to run and operate the party unencumbered by such things as member guidance and oversight.
If the Wildrose Party is going to stay true to it’s grassroots basis, the members must elect active members of their own choosing to the Provincial Executive this fall. It is simply inexcusable that a group of people tasked to such important duties could barely meet every second month. Executive meetings are easy to call and hold. The vast majority of them are through teleconference and last a couple hours. We used to hold them at least monthly.
Some may claim that the board did not need to meet much as committees actually took care of much of the party business. That is simply bunk. The committees of note are formed by the Executive Committee and report to the Executive Committee. How can that be effectively be happening if the Executive Committee barely ever meets?
I know that many members of the Executive Committee have worked very hard volunteering in all sorts of roles within the party. That does not compensate for the lack of meetings where important issues and party direction should be discussed. The board is not there to micromanage the affairs of the party, but it does (or should) provide a critical form of oversight and guidance in party affairs.
The Wildrose Party has a little less than four years to prepare for the next election. One crucial step in becoming the party that a majority of Albertans can trust and embrace will be having the membership of the party resoundingly reclaiming control of the party at this year’s AGM. We need to prepare now and gather the right group of people to take part in the provincial board. If we do not speak up and act, the Wildrose Party will simply get another token “no meet” executive committee and accountability to the membership will be lost for another year.
One final note, I am not seeking a position on the next provincial board. Been there, done that. I just want to speak up and ensure that we get a proper and functional board at this coming AGM. Nothing else is on the agenda there anyway.