Tuesday, January 11, 2011

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

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  • I've missed the connection here.

    Martin, at the federal level, used the ability to stack delegates for Liberal leadership convention.

    Clark is complaining about the same practice being used in the BC provincial Liberal contest.

    Did Clark support Martin? Is the fact that she is crying foul about this somehow hypocritical because somebody else did this in the past?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:08 p.m.  

  • Could a party hack - Liberal or otherwise, as applicable - lay out why exactly parties would choose to limit the number of new memberships? Is there any reasonable justification for something like that (I can't think of any)? I certainly understand why certain leadership candidates might have an interest in limiting new memberships, but it's unclear to me how anything of the sort would ever benefit the party as a whole. Or, unofficially, are the party's interests subservient to those of the leading candidate for the leadership?

    By Blogger Maestro, at 8:20 p.m.  

  • Anon - Clark was one of the main organizers for Martin in 2003...the same crew that imposed the almost exact same rules she's complaining about now.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 8:42 p.m.  

  • Not quite correct, Calgary Grit.

    She wasn't an organizer for Martin, in fact she isn't an organizer at all. She's a front-room politician, not a back-room strategist.

    But her former husband Mark Marissen was. Mark was the main organizer for Martin in BC. Christy hasn't been a member of the federal party since 1996, when she was first elected as a BC Liberal MLA.

    So, if you want to hold her responsible for Martin's campaign, you will need to hold her responsible for all of her former husband's actions, and hold her former husband responsible for everything that the Paul Martin campaign did.

    Which is a little debatable.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:14 a.m.  

  • Sharon White is the person speaking for the Clark Campaign in the article. She is a federal Conservative. She was big in the Reform Party.
    I just don't think there is a real link here.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:16 a.m.  

  • I find it funny that you seem to be so happy with the way things turned out for the Liberal Party under Martin that you would write posts like this one to oppose any changes to the rules which saw him win, regardless of how stupid the rule may be.

    Especially when, as has been pointed out above, the link between those complaining today and the events of the past is tenuous and weak.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:45 a.m.  

  • Anon 8:45 am - I actually support what Clark is asking for here. And I'd vote for her if I were a BC Liberal member.

    I just find it a bit humourous to see Clark complaining about what are almost the exact same rules in place in the 2003 leadership campaign.

    And, to the earlier Anons, of course Clark was one of the big Martin backers in 2003. That's no secret.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:33 a.m.  

  • CG, if you support what Clark is asking for here, why did you write such a long post the main tone of which is to oppose what Clark is asking for?

    Don't you understand the implications of what you write? Do you think you can be critical and claim to be supportive?

    It doesn't work that way. And you know better than that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:17 a.m.  

  • Although, I would agree that Clark is the best choice for BC Liberals as they face their leadership election in just a few weeks time.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:19 a.m.  

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