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March 3, 2015

Dr. Moira Stilwell on the Upcoming Extraordinary Convention

American President Dwight Eisenhower said that politics should be every citizen’s part time profession.

And he was right.

As a citizen, it’s your job to protect the rights and privileges of yourself, and your loved ones. It’s your job to shape what happens today, and fight for tomorrow, like our predecessors did.

This spring, BC Liberals from across the province will convene for an Extraordinary Convention.

While there won’t be any mechanical bulls like we had last year in Kelowna, this upcoming Extraordinary Convention is very significant to our party, and to our province. Delegates have an important, history-making decision in front of them – they will have to consider, and if thought fit, adopt a new Constitution for the BC Liberal Party.

Why is passing this constitution so significant? Here’s MLA for Vancouver-Langara Dr. Moira Stilwell’s take on it:

At first glance, a political party’s constitution might look like one of those bland, grey documents that you know you have to have, but don’t actually think or care much about.

The fact is, however, that a political party’s constitution says a lot about the organization: its character, its values, and those of its members.

You only have to look around the world to see what people who are denied political freedom will do to secure the rights, freedoms and fair elections that all of us in this province take for granted.

When people say people aren’t interested in politics, I think they’re wrong.

Just look at the recent independence referendum in Scotland where voter turnout was 85 per cent, a record breaking turnout in the UK. They turned out because they believed something important was at stake. They also believed that their vote mattered, and it did.

Our party’s constitution is more than just words on a page. It’s more than a legal document, and it’s certainly more than something best left to a political elite in our party.

Our party’s constitution is the bedrock on which we build election campaigns, recruit candidates, and share our values and vision with BC voters.

Like many important documents, it sits quietly in the wings until it’s needed, until we have to go back to it to sort out an issue or clarify a decision we need to make.

It’s a document that works well when it’s built together, when it is easy to understand, and when it is relevant to our times.

A lot of work has been put into updating, streamlining and modernizing our party’s constitution. It has been discussed, debated and dissected.

Getting it right is critical, and having the support and understanding of our party members will, ultimately, determine what kind of party we are today and more importantly, what kind of party we are tomorrow.

Just as Premier Christy Clark is working to keep BC relevant in a changing global economy, our constitution works to keep our party relevant in the often changing and tumultuous political times in which we live.

And for our party and every party, constitutions speak volumes about who we are and how we can be expected to treat people and ideas, how we campaign, and how we plan to govern.

And generating that increased level of public participation is best built on a party constitution that makes us ready for the years and elections ahead.

President Eisenhower was right when he said politics should be everyone’s part time profession, and Plato said it best when he pointed out that “one of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

The delegates to our Extraordinary Convention have the opportunity to shape our party’s future. And their vote -and this new constitution – will leave their mark on this party and, in fact, this province, for years to come.

 

By Jillian Stead