Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Turmel's day

Just a few points to add to the maelstrom. Have been out much of the day so forgive me if any of this is repetitive of anything seen elsewhere.

Last week I did want to blog about the NDP interim leader selection process. But I held off out of a sense that it would be improper given the emotional circumstances. There is still that air about this entire development or series of developments so I hope to say this in a respectful and civil manner.

1. Process. Jack Layton announced last Monday that he would be stepping aside for an interim leader. The vote, which became a ratification, on his suggested choice of Turmel was to occur on Wednesday, by the NDP caucus. This would be followed by a Thursday vote of the national executive.

Whether that is proper procedure under the NDP's constitution, I can't say because I haven't read it. This is not a technical point though.

As far as I understand, even the MPs had no knowledge of what Mr. Layton's announcement would be on the Monday. So they and any others had no opportunity, really, to react, debate, or even consider what a proper process should be. And really, I'm talking timeline here. Was it urgent that an interim leader be appointed so quickly? Possibly not. Is there a 48 hour requirement for the appointment of an interim leader in their constitution? Probably not.

In hindsight, and as it has unfolded, it is possible to say that the process they undertook was flawed. Too smooth, too quick. Understandable perhaps given the circumstances but ultimately it doesn't seem to have been the right decision.

2. Succession. It was also a surprising thing to see the interim leader hand-picked by Layton. It's not the ideal scenario. Think beyond politics too for analogies. Does a CEO get to hand pick their successor? Or is there a succession process that the board oversees to ensure the best interests of the organization are placed first, above and beyond personal choices? That's an ideal, yes, and that's the way it should happen. It was/is a delicate situation the NDP is dealing with here. But not beyond the realm of what mature organizations deal with every day in hard circumstances. The NDP likes to tout itself as a well-functioning machine independent of the leader, as we've heard this past week. This aspect of the interim leader process did not speak to that.

3. Disclosure. For Turmel not to have disclosed her former (and very recent) Bloc membership (and Quebec Solidaire) to the public is a strike against her. It's something that she should have disclosed up front. The NDP leadership knew about it (last paragraph here). That information was owed to the public by her and the NDP and it's a hit for their credibility.