The greed that breeds corruption.

It was never a secret that the political parties make a profit on conferences and leadership elections. They need the money for operating costs. It is that simple. In organizing an event such as the upcoming leadership races, provincially in Ontario for the liberals and federally for the conservatives, involves long hours, a myriad of expenses and the long-term financial needs of the party. The only problem is at what point have you killed the goose providing the money and corrupted the outcome?

In my opinion, that point has already been passed by the Ontario liberals. While the provincial fee for candidates is $100,000 ($25,000 refundable), the delegated convention charges are between $250 (seniors and youth) to a maximum of $600 for what is, in effect, a one-day convention.

The only problem is former MPP and cabinet minister Steven Del Duca has, effectively, already won. The convention looks bought and paid for. No honest sign-up of liberals could account for the signing up of over 14,000 maybe liberals nor would he be able to find the 16 people from each riding across the province willing to pay such a high price for the convention. If I was in my old position with the Ontario liberals, there would be a demand that the party executive does some serious checking into the bona fides of some of Del Duca’s delegates.

It looks like the federal conservatives have the reverse problem. Their leadership entry fee is too high. An entry fee of $300,000 (the $100,000 compliance portion is refundable) is the highest ever. Combined with the demand for 3,000 party signatures across 30 ridings and 7 provinces, it is designed to keep out the publicity seekers. So far it appears to have caused the withdrawal of some would-be serious candidates.

A candidate with his strength based in Quebec, such as Jean Charest, would have had concerns about getting signatures in six more provinces. But the mistake that the conservatives have made, despite enabling every party member to vote, is to continue to use a preferential vote system. Unless the leader wins on the first ballot, the voting method drills down to the least contentious, same as what happened when Andrew Scheer was chosen.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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