Monday, January 23, 2012

Open Primaries in Canada

I think the time has come to open public participation in who is running for office Federally or Provincially.   One possible change would be to introduce primaries for the nominations.

Since Federally, and in many provinces, we now have fixed election days, it actually makes it possible to have primaries.   What I would suggest is that two months before election day there is a single primary for all the parties.  

So looking at this federally, it would mean everyone would be able to vote on who runs for the parties.   When you get to the polls, you would decide which primary you wanted to vote in, be that Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Green or some other party.  You could require that party members have to vote in their own party's primary.

Who would be allowed to run in a primary?   Anyone that is a member of the party should be allowed to run.

I would require people running for the nomination to have to get a reasonable number of signatures of electors, something on the order of 300 people.

Whoever wins in the primary would be the party candidate in the general election two months down the road. When someone wins the primary for a party, they are on the ballot and the party can not remove them.   No need for a leader signature, no need for any party approval.  

Sitting MPs would also have to always face a primary.   This is important in all those ridings in Canada were it is the nomination for the party that owns the seat that is the election.  Think of all those Conservative seats in Alberta, or a place like East Van for the NDP.  It means all the MPs actually have to worry about re-election in every election.

If there was no race for the nomination, I would still have a vote but have a yes/no ballot and if the no wins, they do not get to run in the general election.  This would apply to any independent as well.    It also means an MP that has no race will still have a yes/no on if they will be on the ballot.

I would go further and require a party to have a minimum of 300 members per riding to be on the ballot at all. Those people would all have to be registered voters living in that riding.   This would force the parties to build from the ground up and ensure they have minimal strength in every riding they run in.

I would have independents have to sign up 300 people as local supporters as well.  Think of them as members of a local support constituency association.

I would also have all party memberships registered with Elections Canada.   Elections Canada would also be the body to which a political party would have to apply to remove a member.

If there is an early election, you could still do all of this, but the timeframe would be much shorter.   Three weeks for the primary, four weeks for the general election.

At the moment this is just the start of a thought as a way to open up elections in Canada and loosen the control of the political parties.   Let me know what you think of this idea and how one could improve it, or let me know if you think it is dumb idea.
Post a Comment