In this last little while we have seen an excellent local example of the importance and power of social-media in politics.
I had found a large and critical breach of the Wildrose Party constitution in a nominee application form for people choosing to run for the Provincial Executive of the party. This document had been approved by the Provincial Executive and had been posted on the Wildrose Party website. We will never know how many potentially great candidates may have turned away upon seeing that dictatorial pap posted as an apparent application for a democratic nomination.
Not only was this application a serious breach of the party constitution, the terms had been directly approved by the Executive Committee (confirmed in meeting minutes). The optics of an Executive Committee putting barriers up against people who may run against them for board positions are rather terrible to say the least. This sort of thing makes past actions by the party look questionable too. Was it this this sort of thing that led to the unusual acclamation of Paul Collins as Party President at the last Annual General Meeting? Typically in a party that is making waves and skyrocketing in growth as the Wildrose Party was in June 2011, there will be many people vying for a position such as Party President. Oddly, Paul Collins was apparently the only member in good standing who applied for the position that year. Who knows, could have been just an odd anomaly in member choice that year and nobody else happened to want to run. Sadly when the integrity of the nomination process has been breached, these sorts of questions and theories begin to surface and have much more appearance of merit.
In addressing this offense against the constitution, membership and simply principled behavior, I was greeted with silence and stonewalling in my inquiries. Nobody would address the issue. Fingers pointed to the nomination committee but nobody could or would name the members of that committee. Emails were ignored and my phone remained silent.
With some excellent investigation and hard work, Jane Morgan (yes she is my wife), found out who was on the nomination committee and contacted them directly. It was found that while there were some excellent and respectable people on the committee, they had not even met as a committee yet and had no idea of the origin of the application form.
The clock was ticking. The deadline was approaching for applications for the executive committee and nobody with authority within the party would openly even address this breach, much less work to fix it. Jane then took it public and blogged her findings. If you have not read Jane’s posting yet, I strongly recommend that you do. Jane has excellently documented each step she took in her investigation and each conclusion and discovery that she found.
Jane’s article began to make rounds and finally we saw some movement. Jane made regular updates as now communications began to come in as a group of party officials having been found to have their pants around their ankles scrambled to fix the mess that they had created and now was blowing up in their faces.
Only ten years ago it would have been impossible to force such movement from a Party Executive Committee that has been losing sight of it’s mandate like this. Conventional media typically does not pay much attention to the internal machinations of political parties and trying to get members ignited through phone and mail while effective, simply takes too much time in circumstances like this. Between blogs and other forms of social media such as Twitter and Facebook, the grassroots members of the Wildrose Party stood up and put the Party Executive back in it’s place. Change was made and the process is now open, democratic and most importantly constitutionally sound.
Most people will have never heard about this whole fiasco, but it was a grassroots turning point. Future Party Executive Committees and possibly other other party executives will certainly think twice before trying to sneak around party constitutional protections.
Not everybody was too happy about this grassroots victory however. The Previously acclaimed (hopefully outgoing) Wildrose Party President, Paul Collins appears to have awakened from his slumber long enough to post an outright petulant little rant on Facebook and on Jane Morgan’s blog where he calls the grassroots members who stood up to him and his executive “clowns”. I will post the tantrum in full below.
Wildrose Party President Paul Collins September 11 2012:
I find it quite amusing that the social media today affords people to express views with partial truth and a ton of misinformation. What happened to the days when people ,who wanted to know the truth, would make a call to one who had an answer. I guess this practice of going to the source before going to the public would be too practical or ethical. What I have experienced on Facebook blogs in the last few days is the heights of immature behavior and I must remember to keep my sense of humor and smile at the clowns that spend their time producing such comedic content.
It is quite a sad irony that a Party President would post such a pouty reaction to a serious issue and then say that others are “immature”.
Comedic content? Partial truths? Misinformation? Please Paul, kindly cite those allegations. As can be seen on Jane Morgan’s blog, she cited and quoted all of her sources. If it was all a load of hooey, why did the party even change the form then?
What Paul Collins is angry about is that not only was he caught sleeping at the helm, but that those grassroots clowns in social media accomplished more in the development and defence of grassroots operations in a couple weeks than he has done in his entire presidency.
It must be kept in mind, Paul Collins is the Party President who could barely find it in himself to call a simple executive teleconference meeting even every two months in an election year. Clearly this man does not like the coasting in his flaccid presidency to be interrupted by eruptions and actions made by those darned uppity grassroots “clowns”.
Well suck it up princess. I do hope and look forward to those grassroots clowns voting Paul Collins out as Party President at this year’s AGM as it has been made clear that he has utterly no respect for the will of the membership or the constitution that protects those member rights.
Thanks to social media and the grassroots clowns within it, parties can no longer sneak things past the member’s radar. This is a great thing.