Keith Beardsley’s View From the Hill – The inconvenient constitution – May 10, 2011

Ottawa  ON – It’s always fascinating to watch the Liberals in action. When they find something is inconvenient, they simply manipulate it to suit themselves. In this case, it is their party constitution that is inconvenient because it may not suit some potential leadership candidates.

Have they learnt nothing from the last election? One of the reasons they lost was because they couldn’t be trusted to get the job done. That lack of trust and their willingness to manipulate a situation to suit themselves goes back decades.

Remember how they vilified Bob Stanfield for promoting wage and price controls, then implemented them when in power. There was also their promise to cancel the GST. And let us not forget the sponsorship scandal where fundraising rules were ignored and their many Red Books that altogether held hundreds of promises that were never implemented.

In 2009 it was inconvenient for them to actually hold a leadership contest, so instead senior liberals negotiated and arranged the coronation of Ignatieff. They also amended their constitution to say that in the future when a leader resigned there must be a leadership convention within six months.

This brings us back to their inconvenient constitution today. After suffering an election loss, senior liberals are out in the media talking about ways to overturn their two year old amendment to their constitution, manipulate it or find legal ways to circumvent it as they proceed towards a leadership convention.  This ability to ignore the rules has become a hallmark of their party.

Media reports today indicate that a lot of this manoeuvring is intended to prevent Bob Rae from becoming a candidate and that a proposed rule change would favour other potential leadership rivals. Isn’t that exactly what a constitution applied equally to everyone is supposed to prevent?

The constitution is there to give all contenders an equal chance. Now because these rules may not give an advantage to one or more candidates there is a sudden desire by senior Liberals to change them. Why? Don’t the rank and file have a say in this? The constitution was also put into place to protect their rights too and it’s designed to prevent their rights from being trampled on by executives in the party or by party strategists who are jockeying for position to favour any specific leadership candidate.

What a great way to begin the process of rebuilding your party- just trample on your constitution because it doesn’t suit what a few senior Liberals think should be done.

Keith Beardsley is a senior strategist for True North Public Affairs in Ottawa, as well as a blogger and political analyst. He can often be found running or cycling on his favorite bike trails.

Scott Beck



  1. Wow Keith, when I read the title I thought you were going to talk about the Harper government and the inconvenient Canadian constitution. I should have known better.

  2. And let us never forget how inconvenient pledges and parliamentary democracy have been to the Reform-Alliance Conservatives: one pledge broken in the party’s formation, two prorogations of Parliament and contempt of Parliament. All on the record.

  3. Christiane Ouimet’s Integrity Commission makes ADSCAM pale by comparison as well.

  4. Grimalot, what about the $30 Billion theft of the PSAC pension money by Chretien and the Liberals? That makes everything pale in comparison!

  5. I admit to being a party in the Adscam mess. I accepted a t shirt at a Montreal Alloutes game held at the Big Owe that year. Many of the “fans” wore the shirt backwards to hide the CANADA word and promote the Al’s logo.

    Politics, the original reality show!

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