Yesterday it was the wider net of a primary system, today the internal dynamics of the Liberal Party. There is nothing more counter-productive in my mind than the “fiefdom” mentalities that exist within the Liberal Party. The way the party is currently structured, it massively favours incumbency, which in the long term leads to rot, complacency, entitlement and a lack of true accountability.
Some of the proposals coming forth tackle riding nominations, in the sense that incumbents will no longer be protected. As it stands now, a candidate runs for a Liberal nomination, if he/she wins that battle, they then move to sew up the entire riding association and it becomes their personal kingdom, until which time they unilaterally decide to pack it in. Harsh, but not an exaggeration. Part of the problem Liberals find themselves in today is a lack of “new talent”, the turnover rate is simply a hindrance to renewal. You constantly need new blood, new people coming in and a system that allows for periodic referrals for a more general approval. I would actually favour a 2 year “leadership review” at the riding level, wherein members do as they do at conventions, vote on MP performance and incorporate certain informal thresholds.
By making MP’s constantly accountable, it isn’t an attack on them, it simply demands a certain level of performance, that constantly seeks reaffirmation from the rank and file. Add in the proposal to END appointed candidates from the top, and you start to have internal machinations which actually look like a representative democracy. It’s a bit farcical to have a party operate with an almost “strongman” mentality, then pivot to be a champion of democratic institutions in a more general sense.
The party leadership apparatus shouldn’t dictate to the ridings who their nominee should be, nor should they interfere in any way for that matter. Representation should be left to the grassroots, which also means any candidate or MP shouldn’t be able to seize the levers at the riding level, making it almost impossible to revitalize, until retirement or eventual defeat. Periodic references to riding members is a healthy excercise, perhaps “messy”, but indicative of something to fight for, which in and of itself is the underpinning of any successful “movement”. Open it up, take it out of the leader’s control and make people forever accountable. Encouraging signs.