To my fellow Alberta Liberals

A constitution isn’t a promotional document. Approval isn’t something to let slide, especially when the consequences of premature ratification will have a damaging effect on the culture of the Liberal party and democracy in Canada.

A constitution should set out values, rights and obligations in broad terms. Bylaws should drill deeper and give details that must be consistent with the broad terms set out in the constitution. SO I cannot support a constitution that does not set out the terms that are required and then says those who are to implement the constitution are free to define those values and who has what obligations to the members.

This proposed constitution is incomplete. The terms and central values and units of the party are not clearly defined. Foundational components should not be in bylaws. These are not issues of trust or opinion, it is a matter of good governance.

Most significantly a political party is about the inclusion of the members in decision making through open communication and transparent decision making based on the best information, facts, evidence and science. NOTHING like that has occurred during the brief time that the proposed constitution was introduced until today when no substance has been offered to address the process or substantive problems with the text of the constitution. A secret project was undertaken and the members have been informed. No feedback has been documented or quantified as no amendments were considered. This is the ultimate in one way communication.

From the outset promoters of the proposed constitution have used deception and outright lies to support their claims of the need for a new constitution of this type. Inaccurate statements are being made to attempt to appear to answer concerns. All other Canadian political parties have multiple constitutions. Entirely eliminating values and guiding principles from a constitution does NOT streamline it, it guts it. NOWHERE in the proposed constitution does it state that the EDA will be the primary organization through which the rights of the member will be exercised, as it does in the Conservative, NDP and Green Party. Nowhere does it say the EDA bank accounts, expenditures and financial reporting are the responsibility of the EDA or that they can retain these basic responsibilities reflecting our democracy at the local level.

The constitution belongs to the members and the bylaws belong to those who are to carry out the work of the organization. The process of developing a constitution should involve the members. The party has not done that.

I will not support this proposed constitution in its current inadequate state. Specifically missing values of the Liberal party and guiding principles, without stating the specific Commissions that the members support , or without a model of shared governance with the EDA and provinces.

In addition, I do not support the tactics of the party used to force members to ratify the proposed constitution prematurely. There has been a clear abuse of the political popularity to obtain support for a constitution that will allow centralization and personalization of power within the Liberal Party of Canada. For this reason I will not support the proposed constitution by defeating it or referring it to a representative committee whose task it is to see that the next version does have appropriate components, definitions and unambiguous language developed with members input. If a streamlined approach is to be used then the process for bylaw development, approval and amendment should be included in the constitution. The time can be used to draft both the constitution and the bylaws to implement with the new constitution.

Many have noted that is often younger members or those less experienced with constitutions or politics that are supportive. A number of reasons have been suggested. Some believe that traditionally members were motivated to join political parties because of the ideas and policies and that currently political supporters are motivated by emotion. This proposed constitution is exclusively promoted using emotion and relationships. It appeals and motivates the newbies and leaves the veterans cold. Another theory is that older persons have had to fight for their rights and legislation to define and protect those rights. Younger persons take rights for granted and don’t see the need for formal written statements defining rights and roles and decision making structures. Older persons see the value of a well crafted constitution and younger persons don’t. Just because you can get support from those that don’t see the need or value of the party’s constitution does not mean that a poor one should be approved.

I will not support a poorly written, incomplete constitution. I will not be forced to agree that the one being proposed would modernize the Liberal Party or would attract more members. Nor will it make the party open, unified or more innovative. I do not believe that it will do any of these things or that they cannot be done within the current constitution.

I do value good governance. I believe a constitution that provides the framework for good governance provides a level playing field for all those that choose to engage in our political party. The proposed constitution would create a gap in understanding of how to participate in the Liberal Party of Canada thereby allowing power to be used and abused by leaders, members and staff. It also will reduce opportunities for leadership and building democratic capacity in our communities across Canada. As an Albertan I feel obligated to point out that it will not lead to better and more efficient use of funds or increase accountability. Both of these are important to all of us and I assume other Canadians as well.For all these reasons and more I urge all members of the Liberal Party of Canada to defeat the proposed constitution sending the drafters, or another more representative committee, back to the drafting table and our membership across the country.

Jennifer Pollock
Member Calgary Centre

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