Sunday, June 12, 2011

Alfred Apps Takes a Page Out of John Ibbitson's Book (Literally)

Primary election leadership process a welcome prospect in Canada

As the Liberal Party looks to try to rebuild its shattered psyche and equally-shattered electoral prospects, embattled party President Alfred Apps has some bold ideas for the party.

He's clearly been reading John Ibbitson's Open & Shut. He's recommending that the Liberal Party start electing their leaders through a primary process.

More specifically, he wants to emulate the closed-primary process in the United States, in which voters who register as supporters of a particular political party are allowed to vote on who that party's Presidential nominee should be.

(Contrast this with open primaries, in which any registered voter may vote on the nominee of either party.)

“I believe that as a party we should commit, whenever we form government next – and God knows when it will be – that we want to introduce the concept of a registered voters list in Canada,” Apps declared.

The Liberal Party itself has inched closer to electing its leaders in this manner, when it voted to replace its the delegate-based leadership election process with its current one member/one vote system.

Apps insists that a primary election leadership process would go a long way toward revitalizing the party. Right now, the Liberal Party needs nothing as much as it needs to be revitalized. It would do much more than this.

As these primary elections would be conducted on a province-by-province basis, it would force liberal Leadership candidates to engage with the grassroots of the party. Rather than having the option of waiting for a leadership convention and impress a limited number of delegates.

“Liberalism is always in danger of running out of gas or becoming a victim of its own success,” he declared. “There’s always got to be a new frontier of reform.”

Whether or not Alfred Apps should still be the President of the Liberal Party is debatable. But Liberals would do well to listen to his ideas -- particularly this one -- very carefully.

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