A large group of Liberal party members are asking the party to withdraw the proposed new party constitution because it was put together without adequate “member consultation and engagement.”
Tom Addison, president of the federal Ontario electoral district association of Kingston and the Islands has said the proposed new constitution is an attempt to centralize power “within a small circle around the leader.”
The proposed constitution makes the membership free for any Canadian who wants to register, overhauls the party structure, and makes significant changes to the financial management and governance mechanisms of riding associations and commissions. If the proposed party constitution is passed at the convention this weekend, the party will have only one constitution. The party’s board of directors will draft bylaws to run the operations of the party, its federal wings in provinces and territories, and electoral district associations and commissions.
Mr. Addison has set up an online discussion group website called “liberal-members-matter.ca” for party members who want to offer their opinion on the proposed constitution.
Critics charge that the party drafted this constitution without adequate consultation from members; that it “diminishes” the role of grassroots party organizations like executive boards, riding associations, councils of presidents, commissions, and provincial and territorial associations; and centralizes power in the hands of a few top party officials.
Braeden Caley, Liberal Party’s director of communications, said that the proposed constitution aims “to modernize, strengthen, and open up” the party. He disagreed with the suggestion that the party membership was not consulted adequately for the proposed constitution. Mr. Caley said that more than 2,000 Liberals participated in a survey. He said that 98 per cent of survey participants said that they support modernizing the party, 91 per cent said the party should have one constitution like other parties, 96 per cent said they want to make the party more open, and 99 per cent said that they want to make the policy development process more innovative and open.
Liberal Party members will have a chance to vote on the new constitution at the party’s biennial convention May 26-29th in Winnipeg.