The evolution of the Wildrose Party has had many ups, downs and turning points. One of the most significant unifying and strengthening exercises that the party ever undertook though was the member driven election of Danielle Smith as our party leader. It is during that campaign when members were engaged by multiple candidates for months as a small but diverse slate pursued their support for the leadership. During that time the members could truly feel how important they were in guiding the direction of the party as every one of their votes mattered. In the end, the membership overwhelmingly elected Danielle Smith who has proven to be one of the most engaging and dynamic party leaders we have seen in Alberta in a long long time. With the collected engaged wisdom of the membership, a leader was chosen who would bring us from one seat at that time to the 17 seats and official opposition status in only a few years. Member driven politics do work and thousands of minds are better than one. It is very possible that the Wildrose Party may form the next government of Alberta if we keep things principled and together.
Between the selection of leaders, the membership is empowered in that they constitutionally are the sole authority in the selection of the party executive committee. The Executive Committee manages the operations and general direction of the party. Their role is to seek, reflect and act upon the combined will of the party membership. It is in nominating and electing the party executive committee that the membership ensures that the party reflects them and not any small our unaccountable groups.
The whole process for selecting the executive committee is very straightforward and simple. Any member in good standing may be nominated up to 65 days before the Annual General Meeting. Those members will then be listed and will campaign to the membership asking to be selected by secret ballot at the AGM by the collected membership. Very democratic, very grassroots and very effective when left alone.
Unfortunately and almost inevitably self-interested small groups will try and undermine the democratic means of running an organization. It really is sad to see how the Wildrose Party executive committee has behaved in this last 15 months since they took on their roles. As per this blog posting it can be seen that the executive committee only formally met five times in an election year. That is pretty sad for a group with such an important role. How can one do their job by only meeting once every couple months? The party President has not been calling meetings and has been all but invisible in general. The AGM notification is turning into an embarrassing fiasco and policy will not even be deliberated on.
Despite this terribly lacklustre performance, apparently many of these current executive members plan to keep their positions past this AGM. While there is nothing wrong with seeking re-election, it is getting very disturbing seeing what is apparently a move to limit the simple member choice system in the election of our executive committee as was documented in this blog posting. The current Executive Committee is directly responsible for this mess and one can really only assume that the only rationale for such a blatant breach in our party constitution was to try and limit who may or may not contest the current executive committee for board positions. Even the Progressive Conservative Party is more open in their board selection than this!
It is grassroots empowerment that is our strength as a party. It is the power of the membership that makes us feel like participants in a party rather than simply wallets for it. It will be through allowing the membership to guide the general direction of party operations through it’s election of the executive committee that our party will stabilize to the point where Danielle Smith can lead us to a full electoral victory without worrying about what is happening with the party board.
Despite this embarrassing and flagrant breach of the party constitution in trying to empower an appointed anonymous committee who can reject nominees “for any reason they see fit”, none of the current executive committee members have shown the courage to come forth and at least try to explain or justify this breach. That speaks volumes of how functional, democratic and freethinking our current executive committee is.
We will not let hidden groups block the democratic election of our executive committee! I know there will be some excellent candidates coming forward at this year’s AGM and I look forward to seeing the membership selecting them. I won’t say who to vote for but I will say that nobody should even consider voting for an executive committee member who remained silent in the face of a breach of our constitution by them. We need change.
The members chose a great leader, they will choose a great executive committee too when given the chance. We just had better ensure that the members maintain that right as clearly somebody is trying to take it away.