Liberals vote to keep monarchy .. and lose some current and future supporters (present company not excepted)!

Jan 15th, 2012 | By | Category: In Brief

In a number of respects the Liberal Party of Canada biennial convention in Ottawa this weekend has been a surprising success. It was, eg, attended by some 3,200 delegates — considerably more than expected.

As Jane Taber has also reported: “The party had wanted to show it can reinvent itself by becoming more open. It went some of the way by deciding to create a new class of ‘supporters’, who do not have to pay a fee to become a party member or join a riding association, but can vote for … a new Liberal leader.”  And delegates elected the 42-year-old Mike Crawley as party president, over the 59-year-old Sheila Copps (even if she does have “a good sex life”).

Those of us who harbour progressive left libertarian sentiments (as in, eg, Bernard Crick’s description of George Orwell as “left-wing, but also libertarian, egalitarian”) cannot help but be pleased as well that “an overwhelming 75 per cent of delegates” voted for “ the legalization and regulation of marijuana.”

(Even if: “The marijuana resolution is not binding on the leader or the party. And delegates rejected a proposal to remove the leader’s veto over the contents of future election platforms, so there’s no guarantee the party will ever actually campaign on the idea of legalizing pot.”)

At the same time, it apparently remains one of the problems of the federal Liberals that for all too many years now they have been a party of what passes for an old establishment in Canada. And, at best, it is apparently going to take considerably longer in the wilderness to shed this establishment past.

Thus even though the party went some of the way towards showing “it can reinvent itself by becoming more open …  by deciding to create a new class of ‘supporters’”(in Ms. Taber’s fine words again), “delegates rejected a US-style primary system to elect its leader.” And the new president, “Mr. Crawley, when asked what system he preferred during the presidential debate Friday night, was non-committal.”

Much more importantly for potential Liberal voters such as myself, only 38% of delegates voted YES for resolution 114 : “Canadian Identity in the 21st Century … BE IT RESOLVED that the Liberal Party of Canada, urge the Parliament of Canada to form an all party committee to study the implementation of instituting a Canadian head of state popularly elected and sever formal ties with the British Crown.”

As the counterweights editors explained last week, “That’s democracy.” And we ardent supporters of an altogether and thorough-going post-colonial Canada at last can take some heart from continuing support for this ultimate democratic reform cause from the likes of  Liberal youth vice-president Sean Sutherland, and  Montreal MP Marc Garneau.

Like other supporters of a democratically elected Canadian head of state in Canada (on the Westminster parliamentary model of India, Ireland, Iceland, and other such places), I certainly intend to keep doing whatever I can to advance what strikes me as a crucial cause for the long-term future of our country. In this particular context, there is one obvious small thing I can do. And I have quickly discovered that, in reaction to the fate of resolution 114, that is what I intend to do.

Many Liberal opponents of the resolution, that is to say, have not been at all shy about stressing how if the party did support even just studying the prospects of some ultimate severing of our current residual “formal ties with the British Crown,” they would withdraw their support from the party. I find myself wanting to make clear, in the only small but immediate way I can, that this “divisiveness” cuts in more than one direction.

So … as someone who has often voted for the Liberal Party of Canada  — especially in the more recent past — I will certainly not be doing any such thing again, until and unless it reverses the position that 62% of its 3,200 biennial convention delegates have now taken on the future of the British monarchy in Canada!

Of course, no one will notice (or care) what I do, in my small corner. But I have no doubt that I am far from the only former Liberal voter who will now be taking this position. The ultimate democratic reform of politely moving beyond the British monarchy as Canada’s official head of state is growing into a more  fundamental issue than many who still identify with the old establishment think.

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  1. You are right. There are those of us out there who were very heartened by this resolution to at least study the possibility of having a truly Canadian head of state. I was very disappointed when this motion was defeated. The Liberals have now lost my vote as well, and I have always voted Liberal in the past.

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