Rebuilding the Big Red Machine - 3
For those unfamiliar with the current Liberal Party membership policy, the membership rules are currently a mish-mash of seemingly contradictory, arbitrary, and random procedures, including:
-Forms cost 25$
-Forms cost 1$
-You become a member for life
-You don't need to have membership in the riding you live in
-You become a member of the provincial party
I won't even begin to get into the variations on the policy for distributing membership forms. The worst thing about the individual provinces setting their own membership policies is that it opens the door for the kind of flagrant abuses and restriction of forms we saw during the last leadership campaign. I'll never understand why Team Martin felt the best way to grow the LPC in Alberta was to prevent people from becoming Liberals but, because every province could set their own rules for form distribution, it was possible to do this.
The first step to correcting this has already been announced, with the availability of online forms (Welcome to the 90s!). This will go a long way to making the party more open and accessible and has been a long time coming.
But beyond this, it's important to go to a national form, for three big reasons. I've already touched on the benefits of having uniform (and preferably non-retarded) rules to prevent abuses. The second main benefit will be the huge savings in administrative costs by processing the forms nationally (and on-line). For a party in debt, that's probably a good thing.
The third benefit comes from fundraising. The LPC has never adapted to the new campaign finance dynamic of fundraising. In the post-C-24 world, you need to target your grass roots members for donations. In order to do this, you need an up to date national membership list. Take a look at the number of donors from the major parties over the past few years:
While the graph may not be overly clear, those tall blue lines are the number of Tory donations and those embarrassingly small green lines are NDP donors. If you squint hard enough, you might be able to find the number of Liberal donors there.
To get the party's financial house in order, it's absolutely essential to have a national membership form which is easy to obtain. Hopefully the party will forge ahead with this.
Update: Mark your calendars - April 3rd is now the target date for Liberal memberships to be available online.