Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A thought on the leadership hullabaloo

Tomorrow the National Board is deciding on a motion or set of procedures pertaining to the Liberal leadership race and the conditions under which candidates, including Bob Rae, would be permitted to run. I don't know what the details will be, despite the leaks, and will await the decision. I am a little concerned, however, by the way it has begun to unfold.

This may or may not be helpful, but I'm going to raise it anyway. I can't help but think, given what has transpired over the last number of days, that the idea that Paul Summerville put forth during the national board election campaign period and which can be found on his blog (here and here) would have been an optimal way to proceed in terms of how to deal with the question of the possibility of an interim leader running given a promise not to that was made. Paul's idea was to have a vote among the members on the question. Organize a tele-townhall or something of that variety that could put the question to members.

The advantages of such a process were many. It would have offered a clean way of addressing the situation. It would have ultimately taken the issue of Bob off the table, one way or another, whether members said yes or they said no. It would have been done with and put to bed. It might have even prevented multi-pronged Bob-should-not-run columns from being launched, from within the party, across the national press.

Most importantly, it would have demonstrated to Canadians a professional means of dealing with this controversy. It would have shown sensitivity to the question. It would have been an act of democratic leadership showing we are getting our act together and know the importance of showing that to the country given our history of fighting during leadership.

The downside would principally have been the focus that would be placed on Rae running, an over-emphasis if you will, by the very fact of having such a vote. If there are other downsides to such a process, they're not obvious to me. Perhaps there is the argument that the National Board is to make such judgments, they were elected to represent us. That is true. Yet look at the hurly burly of the last week.

Weighing all the considerations, the idea just made sense. I have no idea whether it would still be possible to do this or whether the train has left the station. It could be that the National Board does indeed have something in mind that might be comparable and until Wednesday's decision is made and released, there remains that possibility that some process or steps will be put in place to effectively address this controversy. Or, maybe not. We shall see.

I really hope that as this leadership process develops, there is more of an emphasis on how the party interest should be put first. Constructive thinking, of the variety put forward above, is what we could do with a lot more of in order to make that happen.