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A Quick Reference Guide to the Conservatives' 2013 Biennial Convention

Posted: 10/29/2013 6:08 pm

Published for the Prince Arthur Herald

The Conservative Party grassroots are gearing up for its biennial national convention, this year to be held at the BMO Centre in Calgary, Alberta.

The convention, originally scheduled for June 27-29, was rescheduled and relocated due to the Alberta floods.

The three-day convention is broken down into a mixture of information sessions, speeches, and debates on policy and constitution resolutions, concluding in votes on these debates. Debates either involve the policy declaration or the party constitution. The policy declaration serves as the Conservative government's mandate to implement the policies desired by the Conservative grassroots, while the national constitution governs the operations of the party.

Up for discussion are 199 policy proposals and 67 constitution proposals, not including those that may be introduced as motions from the floor.

Proposals to amend the policy declaration include allowing income splitting for married and common law couples. Although this policy was pledged by Prime Minister Harper to be implemented once the federal budget is balanced, it's not a policy that appears in the policy document.

Another proposal would create a "workers' rights" section which states workers should be allowed to "organize democratically... collectively bargain... and peacefully withdraw and withhold services. This proposal also calls for legislation that requires public service unions to disclose the amount of membership money that goes toward "political donations, donations to media organizations, and to political activism and campaigns."

A third proposal would create a "National Sunshine List" for all Crown corporations and federal agencies where employees make more than $120,000 per year. Such a proposal was tabled by MP Brent Rathgeber as a private members bill, for anyone making more than $188,000, but the bill was effectively killed when the minimum salary to be included on that list was raised to $445,000.

Other proposals include:

- Stating that the Government of Canada "must continue to defend the democratic countries of the Middle East and the right of Israel to exist."
- Developing a plan to criminalize the purchase of sex as well as those profiting from the purchase of sex
- Creating a "National Transportation Strategy"
- Amending the Criminal Code so that "harassing telephone calls" include harassing text messages
- Proposing that, following a balanced budget, the federal budget remain frozen at $300 billion until 2021
- Ending supply management

Proposals to amend the constitution focus more on the internal operations of the Conservative Party itself. For instance, making sure candidates for nomination are not allowed to take cash for membership purchases. This would require anyone purchasing a membership from the candidate to do so by personal cheque or credit card.

There is also a proposal to create an "ethics committee" that reports directly to National Council on the party's "compliance with ethical best practices in its fundraising and campaigning activities." It would presumably act as part-watchdog, part-research and advisory committee to ensure they remain focused on ethical best practices.

As well, the proposal to switch from an equal-weighting to a membership-based process for electing the next leader is back for debate. Currently, each Conservative riding association gets an equal number of "points" to elect the national Conservative leader. The proposal is to keep these points, but also give additional points to riding associations with large memberships. It would give a larger voice to those associations with more memberships, while smaller associations would have a smaller voice. The same proposal was introduced in 2011 and failed.

To combat this a proposal has been submitted that would not allow failed convention proposals to be re-introduced at the following two national conventions. If not silencing defeated ideas, it would at least give a six-year grace period before they could be raised again.

Other proposals include:

- Ensuring Conservative members are at least 14-years-old
- Ensuring National Council communicates "legislative initiatives and government policy" that has been implemented
- Proposing that national conventions not be held in the same year as federal elections
- Capping policy and constitution proposals at 10 per-province
- Ensuring the power to elect a riding candidate rests with the EDA rather than the national party headquarters

This convention will see Conservative grassroots give their leadership their mandate, a crucial one since it establishes the operating rules, policies, and groundwork until the next national convention, which will be just months before the October 2015 election.

It offers a unique and truly grassroots experience for Conservative members, unlike any other federal political party. Here delegates have the opportunity to sit right next to Conservative MPs, cabinet ministers, and Senators, and directly discuss Conservative policies.

Those attending the convention are broken into a few different categories. Delegates were elected by their local Conservative riding association (EDA) and serve in an official voting capacity on behalf of that riding association. Alternates also attend the convention, but cannot vote unless they do so in place of a delegate. Finally, observers are allowed to observe the convention, but cannot take part in the debates. There are a limited number of observers, usually Conservative members who were not elected as a delegate or alternate for their EDA as well as members of the media. Registration cost between $475 and $1050, depending on the category.

Follow the Conservative convention on Twitter by using #CPC13

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  • Beer Me!

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  • You Eat Half, And I'll Eat Half

    Conservative leader Stephen Harper and Laureen Harper stand next to a tray of hot cross buns at a bakery in Mississauga, on April 23, 2011.

  • Cuddle Time!

    Stephen Harper with wife Laureen and their chinchilla Charlie. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8425819048/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>

  • Easy Rider

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  • Nom Nom Nom

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper eats maple taffy as he visits a sugar shack in Norbertville, Quebec on Tuesday, April 5, 2011.

  • Muahhh

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper gives his wife Laureen a kiss following a day of G-20 meetings in Toronto. June 27, 2010. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=938&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>

  • Can I Keep Them?

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper plays with foster kittens at 24 Sussex. May 1, 2010. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=900&media_category_typ_id=6&media_id=5512" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>

  • Incoming!

    Conservative Leader Stephen Harper throws a small snowball at photographers after talking with reporters at a campaign stop in Guelph, Ontario Saturday, Jan. 21, 2006.

  • Thank God You're Not Wearing Overalls

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  • Wedding Crasher

    Stephen Harper <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/10/23/harper-wedding-photos-ottawa_n_2006374.html" target="_blank">surprises an Ottawa couple on their wedding day</a> in 2012.

  • Yep, Definitely A Cat Person

    Laureen Harper laughs as she holds a husky dog with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as they tour Caribou Crossing, Yukon, south of Whitehorse Monday August 20, 2012.

  • Harper Road

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  • Bonjour, Bonhomme

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper hams it up with Bonhomme Carnaval in the Prime Minister's Centre Block Office. November 25, 2010. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1238&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>

  • Trendsetter

    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, far left, watches a third round match between Agnieszka Radwanska, of Poland, and Serbia's Jelena Jankovic with his children Rachel, center, and Benjamin, right, at the 2012 US Open tennis tournament, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in New York.

  • Psst! I Like Your Hat

    Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, speaks with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper during Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on July 1, 2011.

  • Giggle Fit!

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his son Ben watch a bloopers show while attending the Calgary Flames NHL hockey game against the Edmonton Oilers in Calgary, Saturday, April 11, 2009.

  • In The Key Of C Major

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper practices a few chords after arriving at home from work. February 19, 2011. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1457&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>

  • Love You, Mom

    Conservative leader Stephen Harper gets a hug from his mother Margaret during a visit to his campaign office in Calgary, Saturday May 29, 2004.

  • We Can't All Grow A Pirate 'Stache Like Trudeau

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  • The Sweet Side Of Politics

    Senior Legislative Assistant, Katherine Locke, left, and Government House Leader Special Assistant, Zoe Lawson, show off their House of Commons gingerbread house to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his office on Dec. 16, 2010. The gingerbread house was filled with rows of gummi bears as members of Parliament. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1355&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>

  • Beach Boy

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper waves to tourists as he walks on the beach after the closing of the VI Summit of the Americas on April 15, 2012 in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.

  • Game Face

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper plays a game of table tennis with Team Canada's Mo Zhang at Canada House in London on Tuesday, June 5, 2012.

  • Whaddya Mean It Doesn't Fit?

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper tries on an old hockey helmet at he tours the Yukon's Hockey History exhibit at the McBride Museum in Whitehorse, Yukon on Thursday, August 25, 2011.

  • Goooaaaaallll!

    Stephen Harper, his son Ben, and Wayne Gretzky watch the men's ice hockey team's gold medal game at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8457917081/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>

  • Who Said Politics Can't Be Fun?

    Stephen Harper and his son Ben hit balloons into the crowd after his speech at the party's three-day policy convention in Montreal on Friday March 18, 2005.

  • Jam Sesh

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  • Party Politics

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  • I Spy Something Cute

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  • Flashback

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  • Just Smile And Back Away Slowly

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  • Hats Off

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, throws Senator Gerry St. Germain's cowboy hat into the crowd after presenting him with a new one as his wife Margaret St. Germain, right, laughs during a barbecue at St. Germain's ranch in Surrey, B.C., on Monday August 6, 2012.

  • Thumbs Up, Up And Away

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  • He's A Belieber

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  • I'm With Him

    Stephen Harper and Wayne Gretzky, joined by students on an outdoor ice rink in Saskatoon on Feb. 5, 2010. Source: <a href="http://on.fb.me/ZTlKy6" target="_blank"> Facebook</a>

  • Shhh... This Is The Best Part

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  • Umm... This Is My Costume

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper poses for a photograph with Halloween trick-or-treaters at his official residence in Ottawa, Wednesday, October 31, 2012.

  • Is It Cold, Or Is It Just Me?

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper bundles up in a parka as he tours Frobisher Bay in Iqaluit, Nunavut on Thursday, February 23, 2012.

  • One Of Harper's Many Hats

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  • D'awww

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen play with some furry friends at the official opening of the new Ottawa Humane Society facility on July 6, 2011. Source: <a href="http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/media_gallery.asp?media_category_id=1724&media_category_typ_id=6#cont" target="_blank">Pm.gc.ca</a>

  • Omigod, So Cute

    Met Batisse X, official mascot of the Royal 22nd Regiment, prior to welcoming French PM Jean-Marc Ayrault to Ottawa. Source: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmharper/8554783327/in/photostream" target="_blank">Flickr</a>

  • I Can Totally Take You

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  • Mush!

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper drives a dog sled after meeting mushing teams at the Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife, N.W.T., Monday, March 10, 2008.

  • A Very Harper Holiday

  • Hanging With The Golden Girls

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  • Tough Cookie

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  • Does This Mean I'm In The Band?

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  • Stanley's Not Going To Be Happy About This

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  • Say, 'Happy Halloween!'

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper points out the camera to baby Grayson, dressed up as a giraffe, during his first time trick-or-treating at 24 Sussex. Source: <a href="http://on.fb.me/10ppG5w" target="_blank">Facebook</a>

  • Bear Hug

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