Note: This message is particularly intended for people who are open to supporting the federal Liberal Party, but we trust that democratic reformers anywhere on the political spectrum will be interested in hearing about the current Liberal leadership contest and its implications for moving on electoral reform.
Groups Endorsing ‘Electoral Cooperation’: You have likely seen the headlines recently announcing a wave of endorsements for the idea that the federal Liberals, NDP and Green parties should work out a cooperation agreement in the next federal election in 2015. In particular, LeadNow and Avaaz are currently running strong campaigns advocating this idea.
FVBC is Non-Partisan: As you know, Fair Voting BC is a non-partisan organization and does not advocate on a partisan basis for any particular party or candidate. For this reason we do not take a stand on cooperation as a mechanism for achieving a partisan goal (in this case, for defeating the Conservatives). Nonetheless, we do believe it is acceptable to assess and discuss any proposals for achieving electoral reform.
Why Cooperation Idea Is Interesting to Reformers: The current call for cooperation has two main components of interest to democratic reformers: (1) a tactical approach to attempting to ensure that a particular partisan grouping wins seats more proportional to their combined level of popular support, and (2) a route to implementing voting reform that would potentially eliminate any future need for such tactical maneuvers.
Tactics Not Primary Concern: The tactical issue, while interesting to discuss, is not our primary concern at the moment, although we certainly affirm the right of political candidates to act within electoral rules and to reach out across party lines to maximize their chances for election.
Joyce Murray Offers Possible Route to Electoral Reform: The more pressing current issue is how a cooperation agreement might lead to meaningful voting reform. As most FVBC supporters will no doubt remember, BC MP Nathan Cullen staked his run for the federal NDP leadership on the idea of a cooperation agreement and received considerable support. Further, he argued that, if successful, a cooperation government would immediately work to implement some form of proportional representation. Now, BC MP Joyce Murray, alone amongst the field of eight candidates running for leadership of the federal Liberal Party, is issuing a similar call.
Liberal Leadership Vote Open to All: What makes Murray’s call particularly interesting is that the Liberal Party has opened voting in its leadership contest to non-party members – in effect, they have decided to run what would be considered in the US a kind of open primary. In order to vote in the upcoming leadership contest, one simply has to sign up (for no charge) as a ‘supporter’ of the Liberal Party. To be eligible, you have to be over 18, eligible to vote in Canada and not currently be a member of another federal party. What’s additionally interesting is that each riding in the country has equal weight in the leadership race, regardless of how many supporters there are in each riding. So, if there aren’t too many Liberal supporters signing up in ridings such as Skeena – Bulkley Valley, Kootenay – Columbia or Okanagan – Shuswap, your vote could carry significant weight.
Signup Deadline Imminent: The deadline for signing up is this coming Sunday, March 3rd, so if you’re interested, you should sign up immediately. While Fair Voting BC is not endorsing Murray in this contest, we do point out that she alone amongst the candidates is promising to work towards proportional representation, so if you are comfortable with the idea of supporting a Liberal candidate and are interested in finding one who supports proportional representation and has a plan for achieving it, she certainly merits your detailed consideration. We therefore recommend that you read her democratic reform proposal and, if you like what you see, sign up to support her candidacy. You can sign up either on her site or at the main Liberal party site – your choice. Click here for a CTV newstory from yesterday about the groups endorsing Murray.
We emphasize again that Fair Voting BC is not endorsing the Cooperation campaign, Joyce Murray or the Liberal Party of Canada, but is simply pointing out that democratic reformers who would consider becoming Liberal Party supporters take a careful look at what Ms. Murray is promising to do about voting reform.
Yours for a stronger democracy,
President, Fair Voting BC
President, Fair Voting BC