Those who know my husband Cory from his online presence of his Ranting and Raving
and the occasional appearance on Sun News Network
; often are surprised or remark to me, "You're married to that guy?"
Our real life friends of course get to see our relationship up close and witness how much we can disagree on things from politics to poker. Without a doubt, it can be challenging at times when we are on different sides of an issue. However it's never boring and that is one thing he promised me; life with him would never be boring.
So a few weeks ago, when he decided he was going to speak out and take the Wildrose Party to task on a few things; I had one of those "oh crap" moments. Both of us have been closely tied to the Party, even before it became the Wildrose. In fact this past summer was the first summer since 2005 that neither of us were sitting on the Provincial Executive Board.
We have both dedicated countless hours; held our tongues (and noses) through a lot of goings-on within the party. The Party and its' success mean a LOT to us and we truly believe it's founding principles can guide Alberta to a better future. So why would either of us be critical or call into question our own party - - simple, you need to speak up for what you believe in. You need to call people out when they have gone too far and are going the wrong direction.
In July Cory started to shed light on some of the concerns. Concerns that likely others shared, but were either unwilling or had no way of vocalizing. Concerns like; the Party building trust
, or confronting the confusion over the date for the Party AGM
, and digging up the fact that the current Executive barely met
since being elected in June 2011 and during an election year. Others started to question his motives and he addressed that
By the end of August he called them out once again on the date of the AGM
, cobbling together information garnered from random Twitter messages, because nothing had been released officially on the Party website. Low and behold the next day (and after 5 weeks of prodding) the Party sent out an email and dialed all the members regarding the upcoming AGM. When we returned from an extra long, long-weekend Cory broke the bad news
part of the AGM details. Here is an excerpt, to save you some reading and save me typing.
On the party website is a link to an application form for executive positions. This is a very deep and intensive application form and it demands right in the beginning that it be filled out completely. Sorry folks, the party is in no place to make such demands. As per the constitution the applicant only needs to demonstrate that they are a member in good standing of the party.
Now at the bottom of the form it demands that applicants sign off their party rights to the nominating committee (whoever they are) who may refuse the application for any reason that they may see fit. Sorry folks but that is simply horseshit on many levels.
“1. Acknowledge and agree that the AGM Nominating Committee has the authority to disallow my candidacy on any grounds it sees fit, and whose decision shall be final and binding and not further appealed or challenged.”
So candidates are expected to sign off authority to an un-named and appointed committee who may reject their application for any reason that fits their fancy. Think about that.
If this application is to be believed, authority within the party rests with an appointed committee as opposed to the membership as the constitution states.
Around this same time I decided to get involved. Something neither of us normally do, we tend to let each other go off and do their own thing.
I prefer going to the source for information and thoroughly enjoy research and fitting pieces of a puzzle together. This is one area where Cory and I differ; he can be seen as browbeating at times, I like a more methodical approach.
First I emailed Jeff Trynchy at Party head office (he is always very helpful) and asked him who was on the Nominating Committee. Keep in mind that in 2011 this committee had their names published on the party website well before the deadline to apply to be a candidate.
The timing of appointing this committee is crucial. It must
be done at least
90 days prior to the AGM (as per our constitution). This means they had to have been appointed by August 23rd. However earlier is by far more preferable given they are tasked with ensuring there are candidates to run for all 16 positions. At 65 days prior to the AGM they must report to the Executive Committee all the names of nominees. As you can see if they leave appointing of the committee until 90 days, that only gives the committee 25 days to find people, to communicate to the constituencies and the members at large.
More than a week past I hadn't received a reply from Jeff (this is unusual). I then forwarded the same email to Paul Collins (President) and Jonathon Wescott (our new Executive Director) and re-asked who was on the committee and added a question about the crazy clause. I pointed out that our Leader, Danielle Smith had publicly stated
that this concern should be addressed by the Executive.
When I didn't get a reply from either of them, I then sent an email to the entire
board. I also sent it to a group email address for all of the Constituency Association Presidents. To my surprise I got this automated reply: "Your email is being held until the list moderator can review it for
I understand it's meant to deter spam and frivolous emails, but it didn't deter my inner-bulldog (lol), as I set about sending it to every public CA address.
THANKFULLY, a board member did
reply early Sunday and gave me the names of individuals that they believed to be on the committee. Specifically; Rob Ladoucer (VP of Policy), Doug Main and David Chatters. Since then I've received three more confirmations of these names, though one was an anonymous email.
I asked Rob
on Twitter to confirm, so far I haven't heard from him. He would have also received my email.
I've previously corresponded with Doug Main, so I emailed him. The exchange went as follows:
On 9/9/2012 8:52 AM, Jane Morgan wrote:
I understand that you may be on the Wildrose Nominating
Committee for the upcoming AGM.
Can you verify this? If so, I have a couple of questions for
From: Doug Main [personal email address removed]
Sent: Sunday, September 09, 2012 10:05 AM
On 9/9/2012 10:26 AM, Jane Morgan wrote:
Thank you for the quick
response Doug. Last year the party had released the names on the committee well
before the AGM, this year it seems a bit challenging to find this information.
I will preface my questions
with the fact that I’m not personally seeking a position.
Who else is on the committee
and when were you appointed?
I noticed (and others have as
well) that there are some stipulations added to the application form.
1.) Acknowledge and agree that the AGM Nominating
Committee has the authority to disallow my candidacy on any grounds it sees
fit, and whose decision shall be final and binding and not further appealed or
Did the committee or the Provincial Board come up with this
clause? Isn’t this counter to our grassroots?
What was the intent in having applicants agree to this?
And lastly, are there other ways to get your name on the
ballot without going through the application process?
From: Doug Main [personal email address removed]
Sent: Sunday, September 09, 2012 10:45 AM
I'm sorry I can't answer any of your questions since I was only recently asked
if my name could be put forward for this committee and we haven't had any
meetings or discussions yet. Perhaps see Jeff Trynchy for your answers.
9/9/2012 12:32 PM, Jane Morgan wrote:
Actually I asked Jeff already a couple of weeks ago, he
didn’t have any answers.
That was Aug 29th,
so maybe you hadn’t been approached yet.
So you don’t know who else is
on the committee or who might call a meeting?
From: Doug Main [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Sunday, September 09, 2012 12:40 PM
Sorry. I was approached around the same time, but have no
I didn't have David Chatters email, but I was able to find his phone number and I called him Sunday evening.
I confirmed he is on the committee. I asked him if he could verify the clause "...committee has the authority to disallow my candidacy on any grounds it sees fit".
Me: Can you tell me why the committee put that stipulation in there?
Mr Chatters: No. I don’t, actually….. because I was asked to sit on the
committee and I said I would. And the committee hasn't even met to go over the
rules or anything. So I really don’t know who drafted that. Or why they would.
Me: It's very disconcerting to me because it does go on to say the decision would be final and binding. And that you wouldn't be able to appeal or challenge it. As I understand it the committee is made up of three people, is that correct?
Mr. Chatters: Yeah, that's what I understand as well. I don't ... I assume that the current board and the Executive Director put in place those rules. I don't know, it sounds kind of high-handed me. I don't know why they would have to put something like that in. It doesn't make any sense to me and everything should be appeal-able.
Me: Right. And our constitution when it speaks to running for an Executive position it says you need to be a member in good standing. And it doesn't really say much more than that. But this makes is sound like this committee, these three people have the ability to prevent someone from potentially running. And really, in my eyes, I mean it should be up to the members to decide.
Mr. Chatters: Yeah, I would think so......I, I don't know ..... I know that Collins the former, or the current President ........ he's not running again so he is sitting on it and I'm sitting on it. And I think the other one is Rob Ladouceur; who is policy director and is not running again. I think if you have questions like that you should perhaps talk to the Executive Director. At least until the committee has a meeting and has a chance to discuss these things.
Mr. Chatters went on to say that he was appointed about a month and a half ago and only communication he has had since is an email he got about three weeks ago. In it he was advised he would be receiving applications by mail to review. So far he hasn't gotten anything. He said at this point even if he did get them, he's not sure how he would review them without knowing the rules.
Mr. Chatters: So I'm pretty much in the dark, like you.
Me: I have sent an email to the Executive Director, but I haven't gotten a reply as yet.
Mr. Chatters: I'm expecting to get something and I'm expecting the committee will have at least a conference call meeting to go over the rules and what the criteria are and why would we object to someone running. You know all of those things we should go over it as a committee.
Me: That's right.
Mr. Chatters: I don't know where these rules came from. They sound a little dictatorial to me for a grassroots, democratic, party.
At this point I do want to be very clear; Doug Main and David Chatters are both very well respected in political circles and beyond. They have both served on committees with the Wildrose Party previously and Doug in other capacities as well. I have never had any concerns with respect to either of them.
Clearly neither of them had anything to do with writing the clauses on the application form. I also doubt they were provided with much information as to what is entailed on this committee. Things such as the timelines. By my calculations 65 days prior to the AGM lands on September 18 or 19 depending if you count the Friday of the AGM; not September 21 as stated on the Wildrose application form. That gives them a mere ten days. Then the countdown starts to get notice to members of who is running, which needs to be post-marked by September 24 (60 day mark).
However there are bigger questions than logistics surrounding this issue.
Who wrote that clause? Was it the Executive Director, the board, a staff member?
If it was staff or the ED, did the board agree to it?
If they didn't approve it, how did it get as far as it has?
It's in writing and posted on the website, so clearly appears to be a party sanctioned document that is in direct violation of our constitution.
Another aspect of this that doesn't sit well with me is current board members being on the nomination committee. We are a party of 25 K + members and we can't find three members completely removed from the executive??!!!
Some will say it's not that big of a deal if neither Rob Ladouceur or Paul Collins are running again. Do we know that for sure? Rob very
recently started a brand new blog with a subtitle "Wildrose VP Policy's Blog" Why would someone do that 15 months after they were elected to the role and they know they only have less than 90 days left?
I had heard Paul Collins actually did step down in the summer and they had even found a replacement, but someone in caucus didn't like the replacement and convinced Paul to stay on. I believe this rumor is supported by the fact that when David Chatters was contacted a month and a half ago he was told Paul had stepped down. Thus him thinking the three committee members are Collins, Ladouceur and himself. Whereas we have Doug Main who, in his words, "was only recently asked" to be on the committee.
I think the committee was in place sometime in July with Collins, Ladouceur and Chatters. Then Collins
is convinced to stay on
has a change of heart (when, we don't know), his spot is then filled (recently) by Doug Main.
Normally I wouldn't purposely draw negative attention to the Wildrose. However the Party we joined, the Party we helped build, the Party we believe in; wouldn't normally so publicly and blatantly, violate our member endorsed constitution.
Wildrose; I'm calling your bluff. Pull that application in its' entirety. It's a disgrace to what we stand for, what we built and what we dream of for our province.
Update Monday, Sept 10, 1:15 PM
I have now heard back from both Paul Collins and Jonathon Wescott. Unfortunately their answers were incomplete and generated further questions on my part. Both promised to get back to me later today with additional information.
I've also had an email exchange with Rob Ladouceur, confirming he is on the committee. He also confirmed the EC passed a motion regarding the nominating committee and related clauses.
Quote from Rob:
"This year's application uses strong language partly because the motion from the EC is also stronger in language."
He goes on to say;
"The motion was specific in saying that disqualification can only happen if someone could damage the party's reputation."
"if someone "could" damage the party's reputation". Could. May. Might. Perhaps.
Really? How does one determine that? Is it someone with a criminal record? Is it a member who is openly critical of the party? Is it someone who wears different colored socks?
Is this committee expected to be able to predict the future? To predict the future, specific actions of a person from a review of a written application?
We already have mechanisms in place to deal with individuals when they "actually" damage the party's reputation.
If you ask me the party's reputation has already been damaged by a board that is violating our constitution.
No committee "could" have seen that coming 15 months ago !!!
Update Monday, Sept 10, 5:15 PM
As mentioned previously, both Jonathon and Paul agreed to get back to me later today. I have received an email from Jonathon and given the contents, I suspect I won't hear any further from Paul today.
Quote Jonathon Wescott:
By way of short update, I have a meeting
scheduled to receive instructions and discuss your email, but it is later this
evening, therefore, if I am not back to you this evening, it will be tomorrow
I am of course very hopeful that common sense (IE: follow our constitution) will prevail at this meeting. And that the offensive clause on the application will be removed. Or better yet, the entire document; all they need to know is if the person is a member in good standing.
Update Tuesday, Sept 11, 12:15 PM
It's now just past noon and no word from Jonathon Wescott; however it has been brought to my attention that the clause on the application form has been changed. Also there is a memo from the Nomination Committee as a result of their first meeting of last evening.
It's excellent that there has finally been action on this. I am particularly pleased that they have outlined the second way to nominated and provided a form for convenience.
It would appear there is still some confusion over the cutoff date. As I previously mentioned, 65 days prior to AGM falls on September 19, not the 21st. as indicated on the Wildrose website.
I am looking forward to getting a response from Paul Collins, current President of the Wildrose Party; to clarify his comment left on this blog earlier today. (See below).