Grassroots political power

I  have some concern that the process for the proposal to unite the right is not as grassroots driven as it should be.
As I wrote in a previous column, MLA’s are not grassroots. They may have been nominated to run for MLA by grassroots members but were elected by the general electorate, so after being elected as an MLA they are responsible to serve everyone in the constituency regardless of their political affiliation.
As I understand, the makeup of the committee that will negotiate on behalf of the Wildrose Party,  consists of two members from the Executive Council, two MLA’s and Arthur Hamilton a lawyer from Ontario.
There has been some concern expressed about a lawyer being hired from Ontario. In this case it might be a wise appointment as he was the lawyer that was involved with the merger of the Canadian Alliance Party and the Federal Progressive Party.
That experience should be helpful for this process. Who should not be on the committee are the two MLA’s that were not elected by grassroots members.
For this reason, this committee could be problematic, as well as the fact that the Wildrose CA’s whose boards were also elected by grassroots members were not consulted on the makeup of the committee.
A few weeks go Brian Jean, the Wildrose leader, asked for nominations for an advisory committee that would give direction for the negotiation process.
Gord Elliot, who I believe is a member of executive council and was a member of the Conservative National Council after the formation of the Conservative Party of Canada is in charge of the advisory committee.
This is a rather large committee and I am one of the members on the committee. We were each asked to answer three questions. When we became a member of Wildrose, what should be on the memorandum of agreement, what should not be in it and provide additional comments if we chose.
So far the process has proceeded through email and that has allowed us to read the responses of other members of the committee. Some responses have been very detailed and some much shorter and to the point.
There has been one consistent theme. Everyone has stated that the process be grassroots driven and whatever a united organization is agreed upon it must be a grassroots controlled organization.
In December 2014, the Wildrose leader and nine of 17 of the Wildrose MLA’s defected to the PC Party after Jim Prentice became their leader. Two others left for other reasons. This was all done without consulting the members of the Party.
The rationale seemed to be that since Prentice was a strong conservative he would adopt and implement all Wildrose policy, so the Wildrose Party could be abandoned. Surprise! Surprise! The Wildrose grassroots membership overwhelmingly rejected that intuitive.
The Party immediately put into action the process to elect a new leader. With the election being called a year early, there was not enough time to repair the damage done to the party.
As a consequence they did not win government but they did increase their MLA total from 17 to 22.
The rest is history. The lack of consulting with the grassroots membership by Wildrose leadership and the lack of consultation with grassroots by the PC’s [they lost about 60 seats] has resulted in the NDP winning the election. It was the worst result possible. Now we have government that is not only strong progressive but is extremely left wing.
We cannot let this happen again. This better be a lesson to conservative party officials, be they elected or hired staff members], that by ignoring the grassroots members before making critical decisions, they do it at their peril.
I stress the point again, if a negotiated organization is not member controlled, it will be rejected.

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