Tuesday August 29, 2017

BC Politics

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BC Liberals launch leadership race today


By BC Liberal Party/Voice file photo

Former Liberal Party leader Christy Clark visits Chilliwack in 2014.


oday's BC Liberals have officially launched the race that will select the next leader of the party and, with the confidence and trust of British Columbians, BC's next premier.

The leadership rules released today by the Party Executive reflect widely supported elements of the 2011 leadership process, including a vote for every member of the party, equal weight given to every riding in the province, and a preferential ballot that will enable members to rank their choices for leader.

Voting will take place online, with a telephone option, on Friday, February 2, Saturday, February 3, and Sunday, February 4, 2018. The party is currently in the process of selecting a vendor to provide secure voting services, and an auditor to provide impartial oversight.

The party also announced that former BC attorney general Geoff Plant, Q.C. will serve as Chief Returning Officer, overseeing voting arrangements and compliance with the rules.

"The Leadership 2018 rules are rooted in best practices from our previous leadership race and other contests across Canada, and informed by feedback from our grassroots members throughout the province," said party president Sharon White, Q.C. "We're all looking forward to a vibrant contest of ideas that will engage British Columbians and select a leader ready to stand up for BC and decisively win the next election. And there is nobody better to oversee this process with the utmost fairness and transparency than Geoff Plant."

Recognizing concerns raised during the 2011 leadership race, the party and its vendor will establish a protocol to verify voter credentials that does not rely on personal information numbers (PINs) distributed by mail.

To ensure party members and British Columbians have every opportunity to get to know the candidates and their platforms, each declared leadership contestant will be required to participate in party-sponsored debates or forums in Vancouver, Surrey, Prince George, Nanaimo, and the Thompson-Okanagan region, and one organized by the BC Liberal Indigenous Network. The party will hold a Leadership Convention for the announcement of the new leader on Sunday, February 4th.

In order to give party members and all British Columbians confidence in the security and integrity of the leadership process, the party's rules have been modernized to prohibit payment for memberships by cash or prepaid credit card. The party will institute a rigorous monitoring system to flag invalid membership applications.

The deadline to join the party or renew one's membership in order to vote, as well the deadline for prospective candidates to enter the race, is Friday, December 29th. The cost of membership remains $10 for four years, or $5 for those aged 14-25.

Entry fees and compliance
To cover the costs of administering the leadership process, and ensure the party is on a strong financial foundation for the new leader, prospective leadership contestants must submit an exploratory entry fee of $10,000. Those wishing to remain in the race will submit an additional candidacy fee of $15,000 in advance of the first leadership debate (or in order to approved for candidacy, if entering after the first debate), followed by a final candidacy fee of $25,000.

In addition, each contestant will provide a refundable compliance deposit of $10,000, which must be replenished following any deduction for a violation of the rules.

The total entry cost of $50,000 compares to $30,000 for the 2017 Alberta PC leadership race, $75,000 for the 2015 Ontario PC leadership race, and $50,000 for the 2013 Ontario Liberal Party contest.

Spending cap

Each contestant will be prohibited from spending more than $600,000, not including entry fees or administrative fees payable to the party. This compares to $450,000 in the 2011 leadership, while eliminating the previous exception for personal expenses. The higher cap also reflects inflation, population growth, and a race that is approximately six weeks longer than in 2011.

Balloting method

As required by the Party Constitution, each member will have one vote, with each electoral district given an equal weight of 100 points in the balloting.

Each member may vote by a preferential ballot on which the voter indicates their preference for leadership contestants, ranking as many or as few as they wish.

The candidate who receives the fewest points on each count will be eliminated, and their ballots distributed among the remaining candidates according to the next preferences indicated.

The first leadership contestant to receive more than 50% of the points allocated on any province-wide count will be selected as the next leader.

Backgrounder: Chief Returning Officer Geoff Plant, Q.C.

Geoff Plant provides public law and policy advice and representation, and also works as a mediator and arbitrator in public and private law disputes. He was the Attorney General of British Columbia and Minister Responsible for Treaty Negotiations from 2001 to 2005. In 2012 Mr. Plant was named one of Canada's most influential lawyers by Canadian Lawyer Magazine.

Mr. Plant was first elected to the British Columbia Legislature in 1996 and from 1996 to 2001 was Opposition Justice Critic, as well as serving on a number of legislative and caucus committees. As Attorney General, Mr. Plant was the Chair of the Legislative Review Committee, the Minister responsible for the creation and oversight of the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform, and the Minister responsible for the negotiation of the New Relationship, the first-ever political accord between the Government of British Columbia and the province's three aboriginal political organizations.

Prior to his election to the Legislature, Mr. Plant practised as a litigation lawyer with particular emphasis on aboriginal and public law. He was counsel in a number of leading aboriginal rights and title cases, including the landmark case of Delgamuukw v. British Columbia. He has lectured and written extensively on aboriginal law, public law and law reform.

Since re-entering law practice in 2005, Mr. Plant has been appointed senior advisor to the Government of British Columbia in land and resource negotiations with the Council of Haida Nation and the First Nations Leadership Council, he has undertaken more than two dozen successful mediations in a dispute between investors and a major Canadian mutual fund company, and has provided strategic advice to a number of BC businesses on establishing effective relations with First Nations.

In 2006, Mr. Plant was appointed as a Special Advisor to the Premier and Minister of Advanced Education to lead a project called "Campus 2020: Thinking Ahead", the first comprehensive review of post-secondary education in British Columbia in over 40 years. His report, entitled Access and Excellence: The Campus 2020 Plan for British Columbia's Post-Secondary Education System, was released in April 2007.

From May 2007 until February 2009, Mr. Plant served as Vancouver's Civil City Commissioner. From 2010 until June 2017, he served as board chair of Providence Health Care, one of the largest faith-based health care organizations in Canada, operating 14 sites in Vancouver, including St. Paul's Hospital.

In 2012 Mr. Plant was appointed chief legal strategist for the BC Government in the proceedings of the Joint Review Panel considering the Northern Gateway Pipeline. In May 2015 he was appointed Chancellor of Emily Carr University of Art and Design.

Mr. Plant has been recognized as a leading practitioner in the area of aboriginal law in the 2013 Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory and in the 2013 to 2018 editions of The Best Lawyers in Canada (Woodward/White).


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