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More on One Member One Vote, quotas, and a Facebook group.

As you might know from reading Liberal blogs the past several days, there’s been a bit of controversy over the Young Liberals wanting an amendment to pass that would require the (weighted) One Member One Vote proposed constitutional amendment to include or keep a 25% delegate quota for Young Liberals in the OMOV formula. There are many arguments against doing that, but the one I keep harping on is the amount of power this gives a relatively small group or faction within the Liberal Party.

There have been a few blogs or commentators on blogs stating that the general % of membership in the Liberal Party for Young Liberals has been around 12 -14%. I wanted to see if I could get an accurate number on that, so I contacted a Liberal official I know and asked him about what the numbers were. He told me that the “historical number” for membership has been around 10%. So, I obviously followed up with the question, “what are the current numbers?”. His answer was that without getting his staff to do a detailed demographic study, it appeared Young Liberals were “below the historical level” – that being below 10%.

So, the membership #’s in the Liberal Party for the YLC or at least for “young Liberals” are lower then what even the critics of this amendment have been giving them credit for, and it again reinforces my objection as to why we should be reserving a 25% quota and giving a group disproportionate power for an organization that is nowhere near that inflated number, and appears to have been dropping in members and in numbers relative to even its historical #.

I keep getting told the Young Liberals will lose it’s “vibrancy” if we don’t reserve it a quota. Well.. we’ve had a delegate quota before in conventions, and that certainly hasn’t seemed to help with membership numbers, now has it? And why should Young Liberals only get excited at Leadership Convention time? I think the argument that adding a quota to OMOV when that pertains to policy or leadership conventions that happen every few years (at minimum) will somehow magically make youth enthusiastic to join the YLC is a false argument.

To quote someone over at ‘Grit’s comment board:

People are really missing the point here. OMOV wont diminish youth’s voice at conventions because the whole system is designed to REPLACE delegated conventions and in exchange give every liberal in the country a vote. How will it reduce youth’s voice if it gives every single youth in the party a vote which they currently do not enjoy in a delegated system? Furthermore, this is solely for leadership selection, which typically happens once every 10 years or so. This has nothing to do with policy, young liberals can still promote progressive policies and push the party in whatever direction they please. OMOV isnt a threat to the viability of the organization, the threat to the viability is a the YLC not recruiting enough as we have recently witnessed.

If you are for weighted OMOV, but against the YLC’s amendment to include a quota system for themselves, and you happen to be on Facebook, I will do as Jim Calder has done and encourage you to join the Facebook group opposing the YLC amendment.

One more thing; I’ve been asked whether I’d still support weighted OMOV if the YLC does manage to pass their amendment. My answer would be yes: I’m not prepared to throw the baby out with the bathwater. It would still be a significant improvement and it would lead to increased input and democratization of the LPC as it pertains to picking policy and new leaders. My return question is whether the YLC members will feel the same way if their amendment is rejected; will you then cut off your nose to spite your face and reject a measure that WILL in the long run benefit the youth and lead to a more democratic Liberal Party as it pertains to policy and picking new leaders? Or, will you try and protect your perks in the current system?

UPDATE @ 11:30 pm: A very good post from a very thoughtful Young Liberal in Newfoundland on WMOV and the YLC amendment. I hope there will be increasing #’s of Young Liberals with this poster’s attitude as the convention nears.


22 comments to More on One Member One Vote, quotas, and a Facebook group.

  • The interesting thing about this “weighted” argument, it’s based a notion of equality. Regional equality, based on population. The YL amendment has no intrinsic egalitarism, so I don’t find the comparison particularly compelling. Besides, even if you argue the weighted component is unfair, it’s not really a strong reason to support another unfair component. I don’t believe that, but if you do, then you are saying two wrongs make a right.

  • Justin T

    “Youth no more vote as a block than do any other group.”

    That hasn’t been my experience at Liberal conventions. Were you in Ottawa in 2005, when Young Liberals were running from room to room with walkie talkies and radios to make sure that all of our policies got passed?

    • @Justin T,

      ah the good old days

      If the Young Libs are remotely as organized as they were four years ago, I would be shocked…

    • @Justin T, I wasn’t there, no. Couldn’t afford to attend a delegated convention. So my voice wasn’t heard, even with a youth quota. I think two people went from my riding.

      But are you going to put forward evidence of a youth hive mind as a positive? That it’s a good thing if the progressive, forward-thinking YL always vote as a unanimous block, where no one differs from the (youth) party line? While I can admire that organizationally, I also find it a little concerning.

  • it seems a lot more likely that OMOV can only pass with youth support, given that they will make up about 30% of the delegates, which makes the YLC amendment the only way to have OMOV.

    It’s not as simplistic as that. Youth no more vote as a block than do any other group.

    Many youth will support the YL ammendment. Some won’t. Some youth don’t support WOMOV, but will support the ammendment so they have their quotas in case it passes. But they’ll move yes on ammendment, no on main motion. Some youth will vote yes on ammendment, but only yes on main motion if the ammendment passes. Some will vote yes on the ammendment, and yes on main motion whether the ammendment passes or not. And some will note no on ammendment, yes on WOMOV.

  • DLF

    If the YL get their 25% quota, then women should get 33%, and people making less than 70K a year should get 41%. That would leave 1% to the people who don’t understand what it’s like to actually have to sweat a paycheque for a living.

    Either that, or no quotas for any group. I’ve got no time for the LPC to be acting the BCNDP.

  • So here’s how I look at this.

    You are in favour of Weighted One Member One Vote (WOMOV). Ridings are going to be weighted. Stop me if I’m wrong…

    Now the small ridings that are being protected with this, some people could call it a “perk” I suppose, they certainly do not make up the percentage of the party that they are going to be given weighting for. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have a points system.

    So we’re agreed at this point I suppose, that you are in favour of Weighting, regardless of the percentage these members make up of the the total membership. Does this not “gives a relatively small group or faction within the Liberal Party”? Seeing as how there are many more members in Toronto then probably all of Manitoba (this is a guess by the way, perhaps I’m wrong, and perhaps I asked someone and they told me it sounded right but they didn’t bother to verify it.)

    You say youth won’t lose any say. That leadership conventions come every ten years. Now I believe the leader of the Liberal Party should be influenced by youth, I guess it’s at this point we disagree.

    But let’s be clear. You are NOT against giving a small segment of the party undue influence. You ARE against Youth having their traditional voice at the table.

    I really can’t read this any other way. Perhaps I need to go back to Logic class.

    But if I’m right (and I suspect I am), I hope you re-evaluate. Either way, amendment passing or not, you are voting for a version of WOMOV. Or rather you aren’t if Justin is to be believed, because you’re not a delegate. But you get what I mean (I hope).

    – David Valentin

    • @David Valentin, Under your logic, we should be giving a quota to women, first nations, or just about any other group in the Liberal Party, while we’re at it. Those groups would indeed have more right to be asking for quotas then the YLC, since they’re probably as large or larger. But, my statement remains that I dont believe any groups should be getting quotas.

      I’m not against youth having their “traditional” voice at the table.. they can be at the table with their influence when they actually grow their numbers through natural means, not by some artificial number that comes nowhere near their representation in the LPC.

      • @Scott Tribe, Under your logic Scott, you would give artificial representation to Riding Associations with low membership. Though I guess you could argue you are simply making sure they have their “traditional” voice.

        In any case you have different standards for different groups of the party. And you certainly do believe in quotas! You want to give 100 points to every riding association (see: group). That sounds like a Quota to me…

        • @David Valentin, See my link above to Jeff Jedras’s reply to this. His response applies as much here to this YLC red herring as it did to the initial response.

        • @David Valentin, WOMOV is a compromise solution between two extremes – pure OMOV and the delegated system.

          To be honest, I prefer pure OMOV – but WOMOV is a huge step ahead of the delegated system.

          It would be better to implement this compromised solution without amendments, and then amend it later if it proves unworkable. Since this only applies to leadership votes, the Youth maintain their influence to change the policy at the next biennial.

          I can’t help but believe this is a poison pill amendment to defeat OMOV. No one has convinced me otherwise.

        • Justin T

          @Jim (Progressive Right),

          If we’re going to implement OMOV, I think its understandable that youth want to get it right the first time (Right according to their perspective at the very least).

          It’s also a lot harder to change OMOV once it is in place. It takes 50% now to amend the amendment, but if OMOV was in effect, it would take 2/3 to change it.

          I also don’t buy this poison pill argument. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say that OMOV is beneficial to youth and a step up and then say that the YLC wants to destroy it. Why would the YLC destroy something that is in their own benefit?

          Also, that disregards the fact that in 2006 a majority of delegates SUPPORTED the YLC amendment.

          The sad fact is that we are probably in a grey zone where neither side has enough support to pass OMOV whether the amendment passes or not. This is just my impression, but it seems like there are enough people that feel strongly enough about one side or the other and say they will not vote for OMOV with/without the amendment that neither side will be able to muster 67%. Maybe I’m wrong. Judging by the numbers, it seems a lot more likely that OMOV can only pass with youth support, given that they will make up about 30% of the delegates, which makes the YLC amendment the only way to have OMOV.

  • Justin T

    “One more thing; I’ve been asked whether I’d still support weighted OMOV if the YLC does manage to pass their amendment. My answer would be yes: I’m not prepared to throw the baby out with the bathwater”

    You’re not a delegate.

    “return question is whether the YLC members will feel the same way if their amendment is rejected; will you then cut off your nose to spite your face and reject a measure that WILL in the long run benefit the youth and lead to a more democratic Liberal Party as it pertains to policy and picking new leaders?”

    How will a system that waters down the youth vote and reduces their influence on leadership selection be better for youth in the end? That’s your opinion and not one that seems to be backed up by any sensible review of the situation.

    Also, I may only be in 2nd year of law school but one staff member’s guess as to the YLC membership totals and their historic figures after admittedly not checking is hardly solid evidence of anything. And as I’ve pointed out on many blogs (including the one you quoted): The party agrees that giving extra say to some underrepresented groups in OMOV is a good thing. That’s why they are proposing to weigh by riding- To give an added voice to rural and smaller riding associations who would otherwise be basically silenced by the rest of the party in stronger areas. Young Liberals are only asking that we get the same treatment. In 2006, a majority of delegates agreed that we deserve it, when the same amendment was proposed.

    You can say that Young Liberals make up 8%, 10%, 14% of the party but the real question is how much influence do we want to protect? How do their voices contribute to the leadership process? Do they bring another view to the table that is different from the rest of the party and is worth magnifying? It’s the exact same thing with smaller rural ridings. Some probably make up less than 1% of the size of some of our larger associations, but in the end we want to protect the influence of rural areas because we as a party want to be a national party and grow into those areas and they do bring a voice to the table that is different than other members. Youth bring a different, more progressive voice to the party, one that deserves protecting and amplifying. It serves the party and the country well when the YLC pushes the party.

    And when you criticize Young Liberals for “trying to protect perks”, not being deserving of a voice because of infighting, or hypothetically trying to destroy the party based on an assumption that OMOV will fail because of Young Liberals maybe you should heed the advice of the Young blogger you linked: “On the other hand, I’ve read a few comments along the lines of: ‘oh, those Young Liberals, they need to grow up and be mature!’ To be blunt, stick it out your a**. This isn’t about maturity, about ‘those damned whining Young Liberals,’ and to castigate members of your own party for fighting what they believe in is asinine and counterproductive to the goals of the entire bloody convention. That’s like chucking a gas can on the bonfire, telling a Young Liberal to grow up. It’s stupid, and we should be better than that.”

    • @Justin T said: “You’re not a delegate”:

      What, I’m not allowed to express my support or displeasure for something going on at the Liberal Convention because I don’t happen to be a delegate? What about the other delegates that cant go, because they can’t afford to, or the rest of the Liberal Party members that aren’t going to be there? You’re telling me you don’t care what any of us think?

      This response of yours is almost as patronizing as you telling me at Grit’s that because I’m a new Liberal, “I don’t appreciate the contributions the YLC has done with the LPC”. Well, as I replied, there are plenty of Liberals who’ve been members longer then me who’ve had time to “appreciate” the YLC/LPC relationship, and they still oppose this amendment.

      As for the rest of this, the official who gave me those #’s I have no reason to doubt. I also support a youth wing that is vibrant, Justin.. but again, I don’t believe in quotas for protecting influence. particularly when this amendment only affects Conventions that only happen every few years.

      Get your leadership to go out and start working to get more members.. that’s how you protect your influence – by earning it.

      And I’ll say this: I may not be going to the Convention as a delegate, but I certainly can try to persuade others who are going to oppose your amendment, as well as to support weighted OMOV in its original format. I suspect you know that as well, else you wouldn’t be “wasting your time badgering me” as you initially said at Facebook, when you found out I wasn’t a delegate.

      • @Scott Tribe, Using your logic Scott, We should not give weighing to small riding associations. We should just tell them to protect their influcence by earning it.

        Is that not the logical conclusion to your statement?

      • Justin T

        @Scott Tribe,

        The fact that the person at the party office didn’t bother to check the numbers to back up his/her guess gives a huge reason to doubt the veracity of his/her claim. But regardless, like I’ve said, my argument doesn’t hinge on the number of YLC members, but on the impact that they should have on leadership campaigns no matter their numbers.

        My comment about you not being a delegate might have been a bit unfair but I think that you are being misleading by talking about whether you support something or not without the full disclosure of whether you will actually be there. I’ve noticed a trend among a few bloggers who oppose the YLC amendment but aren’t actually going to be there to vote. While they are certainly entitled to their opinion, they are making it seem like there is a tidal wave of people ready to oppose the amendment, when in reality, many of them are not going to affect the results because they’ll be watching on CPAC.

        • @Justin T, for the sake of disclosure, I am a delegate and I oppose this amendment.

          As far as Scott and non-delegates voicing their opinion, the purpose is to share their opinions with delegates who may not have formed an opinion.

          That’s how politics works.

  • JMR

    OMOV period no quotas no nothing everyone has a right to equal voices.

  • WesternGrit

    By getting to conventions, I mean affordability…

  • westernGrit

    Omov will be good for youth. I remember my challenge was always GETTING to conventions. My only worry about omov is over-representation of smaller ridings…

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