Tag Archives: equality

Tracking the BC Liberal Party’s Internal Democratic Deficit

It’s astonishing what kind of democratic deficit exists within the BC Liberal party. Their constitution calls for a one-member-one-vote leadership election, but the party has far from a robust, geographically membership base on the ground. How will they ever decide how to pick a new leader?

Energy Minister Bill Bennett said the voting system must be changed so that the vote isn’t entirely controlled by party members from the densely populated Lower Mainland.

Mr. Abbott, like Mr. Bennett, comes from a largely rural riding where the one-member, one-vote system would be a drawback.

via Behind-the-scenes battle raging in Liberal Party – The Globe and Mail.

Sure, no ever accused the BC Liberals of being overly populist. They are a corporate comprador party that happens to have human members. Candidates are parachuted into ridings and even “members” of the party are not eligible to actually vote for the leader without paying an additional fee that the party executive sets: two-tiered democracy! No surprise here.

The additional fee is offensive on principle, but in practice, it may end up being a fundraising vehicle or a manufactured barrier to participation. Imagine the provincial executive meeting this weekend sets a $1,000 fee for transforming oneself from a “common” member to a “preferred” member capable of voting for a leader.

This government has always been a fan of market-based Darwinian inequality over universality, so it would be no surprise to see a significant barrier to participating in a vote for the leader.

The party is locked into a “one person, one vote” mechanism – now the party’s constitutional lawyer is reviewing just how much flexibility can be wrung from that wording.

A core alternative is to allow delegated voting, so that each of the 85 ridings would be able to cast equal ballots.

What all this reflects is that the party does not care about, or is incapable of, expanding meaningful membership depth in all areas of the province. With a 4-year party membership costing only $10, and with a preponderance of members in the lower mainland, perhaps the party should reap what it neglects: one-member-one-vote means those who bother to join get to vote, the rest of the province be damned.

If the party neglects most regions of the province, so be it.

But if the party wants to move to a delegated voting system, and its constitutional lawyer can tease that out of the constitution, then the party will essentially be admitting an error in not caring about developing a broad membership base around the province.

It sure looks bad for them either way.

What is certain is that the tone of political expectations is changing in the 21st century. Organizations with overt expressions that oppose rich, populist, inclusive democratic participation risk losing their significance. The declining voter turnout reflects that shift in expectations.

The rest of November is sure to be tumultuous for politics in BC. When the BC Liberal executive pins down some details of the leadership convention this weekend, contenders will react and jockey. When the BC NDP provincial council meets the following weekend in Victoria, the nature of their deliberations will be affected by what happens with the Liberal executive this weekend. Since the NDP provincial council is largely comprised of delegates from the 85 riding associations, there is a great opportunity for participatory democracy to occur.

Things are moving fast. Don’t go more than a few days without keeping up.

Only 1.5 Tenured Women in SFU’s PoliSci Department


There are only 1.5 tenured women who work full-time in SFU’s Political Science Department out of 21 profs. Soon there will be 0.5. What century is this?

Behold the list of faculty in the department:

  1. Of the 21 people on that list, only 6 are women. Whoops, that’s pretty low to start with.
  2. Of the 6 women, 2 are actually retired or retiring very soon; they both had tenure. Whoops, time to update the faculty list webpage.
  3. Of the remaining 4, only one has tenure and she works in another department as well. The other 3 don’t have tenure and only 2 of them work fully in the political science department.
  4. This all means that of the 6 women in the department, the only 2 who work full-time in political science don’t have tenure.

That’s just embarrassing. After picking up a couple degrees there this decade, I’ve seen the tail end of a problem that has existed for many years to get to the point today where women are so ridiculously outnumbered.

Gender and cultural equity matter. Diverse voices matter. A reasonable number of non white men would be good, but now a large majority of the department’s professors are white men.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are some extraordinary, intriguing professors in the department, as well as maybe a normal proportion of horrible/demeaning/arrogant teachers. This applies to tenured and non-tenured professors of whatever gender and cultural background.

But the bureaucratic and interpersonal dysfunctions in the department are my best explanations for why the department was put under administration by the dean’s office, why faculty are leaving, why grad students are dismissively neglected, why undergrads seek other majors and different schools for graduate studies, and why when I go to academic conferences people ask me if it’s really as bad at SFU as they’ve heard.

And the worst part is that the leadership of the university has known about these problems for years. I have no idea the extent they have gone to address the problems, but whatever they’ve tried, it’s failing.

Suddenly now we have the horrible statistic of almost no full-time tenured women in the department. And judging by the problems that led to this dire situation, I can’t see how the department is capable of or interested in fixing this situation.

Nous sommes prets. We are ready. That’s SFU’s motto.

A recent slogan is “Thinking of the World.”

It’s time to walk the talk.