Christy Clark speaks out against BC's membership form restrictions in Liberal leadership race
VICTORIA — The B.C. Liberal Party's effort to ration membership forms during its leadership race has provoked a backlash from candidate Christy Clark, who is concerned that she may not be able to sign up enough supporters before the Feb. 4 deadline.
The party executive held a summit Thursday evening in hopes of resolving the issue, where it agreed to increase the number of available sign-up books to 240 per campaign — or 6,000 individual forms — from the previous limit of 120 books.
But Clark's campaign continues to question the need for a limit at all.
"Our first question is why would anybody restrict the number of membership books available to sign up members to the party?" asked Clark campaign co-chair Sharon White.
"They're allocating less than three books per riding," she added.
"We're not being able to give our volunteers the tools they want and that they're asking for to be able to get people involved and enthused about the campaign and the leadership and the B.C. Liberal Party."
Bloy added that in addition to the books given to each campaign, MLAs and riding association presidents also get access to a limited number of additional books, giving the advantage to those campaigns that have endorsements from a large number of sitting MLAs.
A relative outsider to the Liberal party apparatus of late, Clark has Bloy as her only caucus supporter.
Martin, the undisputed front-runner to succeed Chretien, has been accused of having an unfair stranglehold in the race because he controls the vast majority of riding associations in the provinces of Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. As a result, critics charge, Martin's supporters are preventing those who might favour his opponents -- Finance Minister John Manley and Heritage Minister Sheila Copps -- from joining the party and becoming delegates that would ultimately elect a new leader.
-Mike Blanchfield. Leader Post. Regina, Sask.: Jun 9, 2003. pg. D.8
The restrictions prompted leadership hopefuls Deputy Prime Minister John Manley and Heritage Minister Sheila Copps to cry foul and accuse the Martin camp of controlling access to memberships.
Two weeks ago, B.C. lifted the restriction and replaced it with a limit of 100 memberships per candidate per riding, but added a cap of 1,000 forms at a time.
-Harrington, Carol. Canadian Press NewsWire. Toronto: Feb 1, 2003.
In three of the country's four largest provinces, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, access to membership forms -- the only mechanism for increasing the size of a party faction -- is controlled entirely by supporters of Paul Martin.
In those provinces, the Martin forces are signing up new Liberals by the thousands. They will vote overwhelmingly to boot Mr. Chretien out during votes in every riding, beginning this November.
Organizers loyal to Mr. Chretien, meanwhile, are systematically stymied in their attempts to get blank membership forms. Mr. Martin's advantage over Mr. Chretien grows by the day.
-Paul Wells. National Post. Don Mills, Ont.: Jul 10, 2002. pg. A.6