Having recently ranted about the Wildrose Party constitutional proposals that I do not like in a recent posting, it is important that I speak to the proposals that I do support.
Party constitutional issues can be about as dry as it gets but they are terribly important and can indeed make or break a party. A party is governed by it’s constitution and that is a reflection of how that party would govern if in power. For example, if a party has a top-down, centralized constitution, it stands to reason that the party will be quite dictatorial if it should gain power. A party’s constitution indicates as much about where a party stands as it’s policies do. Few people spend much time looking at party constitutions though and that is how some unprincipled folks can manage to slip some things by the membership constitutionally at times that perhaps don’t belong there.
The Wildrose Party has a pretty good constitution overall though hardly perfect of course. There is still always room for changes and as the party grows, evolves and learns lessons the need comes to change some things within the constitution. There are many housekeeping sort of items in the list of proposals that I am somewhat ambivalent about so won’t write further on them. There are some proposals that are quite good though and I do hope that they pass at this year’s AGM in Red Deer.
The Executive Committee moves that Article 7.3, 7.14, and 7.20 be deleted and replaced as follows:
7.3 Subject to this article, the officers shall be elected by ballot at the Annual General Meeting of the Party for a two year term. Their term of office shall commence at the close of the Annual General Meeting at which they were elected and shall conclude at the close of the Annual General Meeting where their successors are elected.
7.3.1 The President, the Vice-President-Fundraising, the Secretary, and one Provincial Director from each of the five (5) regional zones, shall be elected in odd numbered years.
7.3.2 The Vice-President-Membership, the Vice-President-Policy, the Vice- President-Communications, the Treasurer and one Provincial Director from each regional zone, shall be elected in even numbered years.
7.3.3 Provincial Directors shall be elected by members in good standing of the Party from the regional zone in which the Director resides.
7.3.4 The Executive Committee may, with the approval of two-thirds of its members present and voting, appoint members to fill the term of office of any vacancy on the Executive Committee between Annual General Meetings, provided that the person is a member in good standing and, in the case of a vacancy in a Provincial Directors position, that the person appointed shall reside in the regional zone that has the vacancy. Nominees for vacant Provincial Director positions shall be sought from the regional zone that has the vacancy.
7.14 No officer shall serve more than six (6) consecutive years in any combination of executive committee positions.
7.3.99 This clause is a transitional clause and it shall be treated as spent after the conclusion of the 2014 Annual General Meeting, and need not appear in a subsequent consolidation of the Constitution prepared after that Annual General Meeting.
For further clarity, at the 2013 Annual General Meeting:
22.214.171.124 The President, the Vice-President-Fundraising, the Secretary, and the top vote getting Provincial Director from each of the five (5) regional zones shall be elected to serve until the end of the 2015 Annual General Meeting.
126.96.36.199 The Vice-President-Membership, the Vice-President-Policy, the Vice- President-Communications, the Treasurer and remaining Provincial Director from each regional zone (if any) shall be elected to serve until the end of the 2014 Annual General Meeting.
In short, what is being proposed is to have members of the party’s Executive Committee elected to two year terms with staggered elections so that half of the EC gets elected every year.
This proposal is excellent and overdue. To begin with, when somebody is elected to a role on the Executive Committee it can take a few months simply to get used to the role and get to know the people they will be dealing with. By the time the new EC member feels comfortable, another AGM is looming and they must dedicate time to standing for re-election or reconsidering their continued participation in the role. The Executive Committee is very important and those roles are worth two year terms to those who take them on.
Another issue this change could help resolve is having bulk turnovers on the Executive Committee. While people will come and go, with annual elections for the roles the turnovers can be and have been rather large at these times. With half of the EC facing election every year, the membership still has a chance every year to change the makeup of the EC if they choose to do so. We always will have half of the EC sitting with at least one year’s experience which will reduce the stress and challenges of a large turnover.
Lets get this proposal to pass this year.
The only thing that should limit the term of a Party Leader should be the collective will of the membership whether that be after one year or after twenty. The Wildrose Party Constitution provides the means for a leadership review to be held every year should the members through the Executive Committee choose to do so. There is no need to have a hard term limit sitting like this.
There is some ambiguity in the phrasing of this term limit too. When did the clock start ticking? The day that the Leader got elected to the membership? The day the Leader got elected to the Legislature? The day the Leader became Premier? Rest assured the political opponents of the Wildrose will try to make fodder of this sort of thing if and when they can.
Let’s simply leave this to the members of the party to decide. If somebody wants to take out the clause for leadership reviews, then we can get up in arms.
This one I am a little torn on. The cutoff being 14 days is too short if only for logistical reasons. We learned this in the last leadership as candidates literally dumped thousands of new memberships on the office at the very tail end of the race. Those memberships all had to be verified and processed along with having ballots sent out to them in time so that members could vote and send their ballots back before deadline. It was a monsterous task that took a great deal of party resources and many headaches (but it was pulled off admirably in the end).
In lengthening the term personally I would like to split the difference and perhaps go to 28 or even 21 days before the race. Leadership races are excellent exercises that promote team building, the party in general and of course provide a huge influx of new members. The last couple months of the race are critical as people really begin to take notice of the race and decide to participate through membership. To cut that off too early would greatly reduce the momentum and benefit of a strongly contested race.
If the number can be amended downward I could support this extension. I don’t think it can at the AGM though so would say right now that this proposal should be perhaps voted down this time but we should ensure that a more reasonable cutoff is proposed next time. With any luck we should not be in a leadership race sort of situation for at least a few years yet.
This resolution I strongly support. To be blunt, this clause in the constitution as it stands has been a pain in the ass for every Provincial VP policy (including myself) since the foundation of the party. While the principle of this clause is well-meaning in the purest if grassroots sense, it simply is not feasible within a party with any more than a few dozen members in it.
While we want to maintain member initiated policy, we have to have reasonable limits and vetting of the proposals. When I was VP policy the party only had a few thousand members and I still ended up with nearly 700 proposals sent to me one year (though to be fair, about 300 of those came from about four people). I can’t imagine what comes in now that the membership numbers in the tens of thousands.
If a member is dedicated to getting a reasonable policy proposal or two to the AGM the means will still be very realistically within their reach if this resolution passes. Policy deliberation should be a more critical part of Constituency Association activity anyway and it is not hard at all to get involved with that. Anybody who has been to a CA AGM knows that there is hardly a 100 hands raised when the role of CA VP policy needs to be filled and they are often happy to have as much participation as possible. Hell, if your local CA is not working this clause does not preclude a member from presenting their proposal to other CAs.
This clause will help encourage CA activity and will provide one level of vetting to avoid the sometimes unreasonable number or policy proposals or sometimes just unreasonable proposals in themselves while retaining grassroots principles. We should let this proposal pass.
There are many other proposals within the document of varying merit. I do hope that members reject the proposals from my prior blog posting and embrace the ones in here (I never pretended to be unbiased here 😉 ). I will be lobbying for such.
It will be a long and at times dull day as constitutional proposals are considered by the membership. In my last two blog postings though, I think I have nailed the big ones that we should be watching (and staying awake) for.