CALGARY — Conservative delegates defeated proposals Friday that would give ridings with more members a bigger say in selecting the next party leader.
The party membership had two resolutions to discuss: one proposed giving each party member one vote and another aimed to give riding associations with large memberships a larger percentage of a total weighted vote. Both were defeated.
International Development Minister Christian Paradis, the former Quebec lieutenant of the party, told The Huffington Post Canada he is immensely pleased that the resolutions were defeated.
“It’s a founding principle of our party," Paradis said.
The current system gives every riding an equal say. That means ridings in Quebec and Atlantic Canada with few members carry the same weight as ridings in Alberta with many members. Several riding associations have tried to change the voting system at conventions in 2005, 2008, 2011 and again this weekend.
"It’s getting annoying to always have to deal with this,” Paradis said. “At one point, I think it becomes clear."
The MP for Thetford Mines said he was also pleased that the resolutions were defeated before they moved to a full debate in front of all the membership and the national media on Saturday.
“I’m really annoyed by this one-member, one-vote resolution and I hope that this resolution stops popping up,” he said.
Paradis said he feared the motions might pass because the convention is being held in Calgary and the resolutions are heavily supported by Western riding associations.
Wendy Adam, from Fort Macleod, Alta., said the Conservative party believes in equal representation. Riding associations like hers with 900 members should have “more of a voice” because they are more active than riding associations with 50 or 100 members, she said.
“I think it’s middle ground,” she said of the proposal for riding associations with larger memberships to have more say in selecting the next party leader.
“But in life, you don’t always get what you want, and here you don’t get everything you want either,” she said before the vote Friday.
Justice Minister Peter MacKay said he was very pleased with the vote. The former Progressive Conservative leader led the charge to defeat any changes to the current formula, which he negotiated in 2003 when the federal PC party and the Canadian Alliance merged.
"I feel quite strongly and quite passionately that we have to have equality and inclusiveness in our party," MacKay said. He had previously said he would consider quitting the party if the vote didn't go his way.
"The party has spoken, and the democratic principles are alive and well."
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