OTTAWA — The New Democrats are thinking about adopting a completely different process for choosing a new leader, forgoing a traditional leadership convention in favour of a series of smaller-scale events over the course of a month.
The NDP executive is recommending a new leader be chosen sometime between Oct. 1 and Oct. 31 of next year, with rounds of voting through a preferential, ranked ballot taking place about once a week until a candidate reaches the threshold of 50 per cent of the vote plus one required to be declared the winner.
The proposed rules — still subject to change as they have not yet been debated or adopted by the NDP's federal council — would be a marked departure from the way the NDP chose Tom Mulcair to succeed Jack Layton in 2012.
Then came the 2015 electoral result, when the NDP dropped to 44 seats from the 95 they held going into an election campaign that early polls suggested was theirs to lose.
Thomas Mulcair makes a speech during the 2016 NDP Federal Convention in Edmonton, April 10. (Photo: Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)
At the party convention in Edmonton this April, Mulcair lost a vote to remain on as leader for the 2019 election, although caucus decided to keep him on as interim leader until a successor can be chosen.
The grassroots membership had sent a clear signal they were looking to try something different for upcoming leadership race, said one party source, and the proposed rules released Tuesday are an attempt to answer that demand.
It is also a way to move away from the artificial suspense at a leadership convention that uses a one-member, one-vote system, engage more grassroots party members across the country and keep costs down.
How it would work:
Anyone who is a member in good standing of the NDP as of Aug. 17, 2017, can cast a vote.
The NDP would organize a "candidates showcase" event before the voting period begins, where each candidate would get to make a speech that members who cannot attend would get to watch simultaneously online.
The polls for the first ballot would open Sept. 18, 2017, with members having until Oct. 1 to make their choice.
Those results would be announced at another party-organized event, in a different part of the country.
If there is no winner on the first ballot, the polls for the second ballot would open Oct 2, 2017, and so on once a week until a new leader has decided.
Ontario New Democrat MPP Cheri DiNovo announced her candidacy for leadership of the federal NDP on June 7. (Photo: Christopher Katsarov/CP)
The final ballot polls, should things go that far, would close Oct. 29, 2017.
The proposal, which NDP president Marit Stiles emailed to members of the federal council this week, also suggests parameters for other aspects of the race.
The federal council decided in May that each candidate would be able to spend up to $1.5 million on their leadership campaign.
That limit does not include expenses related to fundraising, travel, child care or replacement salary, or the registration fee and the 25-per-cent administration fee the party will be taking from all donations to leadership campaigns.
Those seeking to throw their hat into the ring would have to shell out $30,000 — also set in May — and register by July 3, 2017.
500 signatures from across Canada
They would also need 500 signatures from registered party members in different regions of Canada.
At least half of them must be from "female-identified members," the proposed rules say, and at least 100 signatures must also come from "other equity-seeking groups," including Aboriginal Peoples, visible minorities, people with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ community.
The proposal also recommends at least two official debates — one in English and the other in French — as well as at least one more bilingual debate dedicated to youth issues.
Only one candidate — Cheri DiNovo, an NDP member of the Ontario legislature — has so far declared her intention to run, but has done so as an "unofficial" candidate because she is refusing to pay the $30,000 entrance fee.
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