Stephen LeDrew, LPC President
I am writing to follow-up on my conversation
with you secretary of last Wednesday. As I have yet to hear back
from you, I thought it best to communicate in writing. Moreover,
given the gravity of the matter before us, I thought it only right
to copy this letter to our fellow members of the National Executive.
I understand that the Management Committee
will be asked to consider the question of cancelling the 2003 Biennial
If a leadership convention is set for some
time in 2003, I understand that it would be necessary to cancel
the Biennial Convention for obvious logistical reasons. If, however,
the leadership convention is set for 2004, it is my hope that the
Management Committee will recommend preserving the Biennial Convention,
not only for reasons of practicality, but more importantly, to observe
basic standards of democratic integrity.
From a practical perspective, you will be aware
that cancelling the Biennial Convention at this stage will invite
financial penalties running into the tens of thousands of dollars,
penalties the Party can ill afford given our multi-million dollar
debt. Moreover, given that every Biennial Convention we have held
since taking office in 1993 has returned a substantial profit to
the Liberal Party, it is worth emphasising that not only can we
afford to hold the convention in February 2003 (at least a full
year before a 2004 leadership convention), but that to not hold
the Biennial Convention would be to sacrifice those badly needed
From an ethical perspective, I believe that
every member of the National Executive is keenly aware that we are
serving the Party on borrowed time, to put it at its most charitable.
The previous decision to delay the Biennial Convention by eleven
months effectively extended our terms in office by fifty-percent.
Were we to cancel the Biennial Convention altogether in favour of
a leadership convention in 2004, we would be doubling our terms
in office, from two years to four years. When foreign governments
have cancelled constitutionally mandated elections and illegally
extended their terms in office, Liberal governments have never flinched
from condemning them in the harshest of terms. For the Liberal Party
itself to fall short of standards we expect of foreign dictatorships,
would be to bring ourselves, our Party, and our government into
It is never more important that the National
Executive be (and be seen to be) legitimate and committed to upholding
the rule of law, than when our Party is embarking upon an inevitably
divisive leadership election. I fear that cancelling our own elections
will cast grave public doubt on our ability to ethically and fairly
administer the election of our new leader.
Finally, as National Policy Chair, I am especially
concerned that without a Biennial Convention in 2003, we will have
six years between policy conventions. For us to allow six years
to elapse without calling our members together to discuss ideas,
to craft our vision, or to define what it is we wish to achieve
in office, would be an outrage against any conception of our Party
as an entity concerned with the public interest. It would be equivalent
to making a public declaration that our Party is unconcerned with
why we seek office, and is merely absorbed with a craven desire
to wield power for its own sake.
There are those who would argue that with a
new leader entering office, there will be an opportunity for policy
debate on the campaign trail. However, those making this argument
forget that the Party is not merely an extension of any one leader;
we are first and foremost a collection of Canadians who have come
together in pursuit of a common vision of the public interest, and
who have a duty to define and give voice to vision, irrespective
of who holds the leadership. In essence, it is the leader who must
serve the Party's vision, not the other way around.
I realise that the National Executive will
have the final decision on the Biennial Convention. I also realise
that the recommendation of the Management Committee will set the
tone for the National Executive's discussions.
I hope that my views will be useful to the
Management Committee in coming to a decision.
National Policy Chair, Liberal Party of Canada
For interviews, please contact:
Akaash Maharaj Campaign
(416) 413 4743