Conservative Party Convention: 26-28 May 2016--Vancouver

This is a report on the 2016 conservative party convention which was recently held in Vancouver.

1 Introduction

Never having attended a political convention, the 2016 Vancouver convention was an eye-opener; not to mention fascinating.

A number of individual topics are covered in this report. To make the report easier to read or, at least, to skim, several numbered paragraphs are included below. As several convention programs were held simultaneously, it was not possible to attend every single session of the convention.

On a purely personal level, I found everyone to be friendly. At the lunches, one could sit at any table and easily strike up a conversation with a fellow conservative from, for example, Saskatchewan, Alberta or British Columbia.

Some of the features of the convention are next considered.

2. The Party Website and the EDA website

For anyone with an interest in the party and in perhaps attending a future convention of the Conservative Party of Canada, the first stop should be the party website at www.conservative.ca

All of the documentation governing the party will be found at the website.  For example, the website includes the Constitution, Policy Declaration, delegate selection meeting rules, and as well the constitution of the electoral district associations. (Also called EDAs)

An electoral district is a place represented by a member in the House of Commons in Ottawa. An EDA is an association of members of a particular political party in an electoral district. (For anyone with insatiable curiosity or a thirst for the arcane, please see the Canada Elections Act.)

Not to be overlooked in the discussion of websites is the website of the CPC Eglinton-Lawrence EDA. This website contains timely information about the activities of our EDA. It can be found at http://cpceglintonlawrence.com.

3. Going to a Convention?

My understanding is that anyone could attend the convention as an observer. However, only "delegates" are entitled to vote at the convention.

To be a delegate, it is necessary to (1) be a member of the Conservative Party at least 21 days before a delegate selection meeting; (2) submit a written request to be a delegate to the appropriate electoral district association and (3) be elected by members of the party, residing in the electoral district, as a delegate at the delegate selection meeting.

This is the process that was followed in the CPC Eglinton-Lawrence EDA.

4. The Convention Smart Phone App

A software application (app) was created and made available to all delegates and observers at the convention. As result, it was easy to determine the schedule for the day and venue of the various eventswithout having to lug around piles of paper. Access to the app saved everyone a lot of time and trouble.

5. Constitution and Policy Breakout and Plenary Sessions

The party’s constitution and policies are publicly available documents. The policy declaration is particularly interesting because it sets forth the founding principles of the party as well as policies on a host of issues ranging from the role of government to national defense and security. The party constitution, by contradistinction, describes the rules which govern the operation of our party.

It is particularly important that all of the policies of the party be transparently available to anyone anywhere. It is easy to find out the Conservative Party position on nearly any topic. The policy declaration is an inspiring document in its range and depth of coverage.

In advance of the convention, most EDA’s submitted, for considerations, their proposed policy amendments and constitutional revisions. These were then vetted and a number were brought forth for debate at the convention.

At the convention, the party constitution and party policy declaration are open to revision. That was the purpose of the "breakout" sessions followed by the "plenary" sessions. The "plenary" sessions were especially interesting for both the manner of voting as well as the high quality of serious debate.

Voting on contentious issues was done with an electronic device. All of the delegates in a huge meeting room were arrayed by province. Needless to say, the Ontario group was very large.

6. Programs concerning Electoral District Associations

Some of the programs of particular interest to an  EDA touched upon topics such as" community outreach", "recruiting volunteers", and "fundraising".

Running an election campaign is expensive and difficult. For that reason, some of the speakers were experienced campaign managers and fundraisers. Each speaker, some of whom are party employees, made an interesting presentation. Dealing with, inspiring, and organizing volunteers requires several unique talents. Volunteers are not employees. They work for nothing. They have to be treated with dignity and respect or else they will be lost forever.

To delve into the content of some of the presentations is not the purpose of this article and would only unduly protract its length! Suffice it to say that these topics are of great interest to a recently elected EDA president.

7 Communicating with Voters

There were several presentations at the convention directed to communicating with voters. Those presentations dealt with a variety of subjects.

The party has a database of its members. This database can be used to communicate with party members and party supporters in an electoral district.

The database needs to be periodically updated to ensure its currency. This can be done either by EDA or with the assistance of a commercial service. The object of the exercise is to identify party members and supporters.

On an election day, it is critical to ensure that party members and party supporters get out and vote. Using "bingo sheets" (lists of electors) provided by Elections Canada on Election Day, a campaign manager is able to send volunteers to party supporters who have not yet voted. If an individual has not yet voted, he or she can be contacted to encourage them to vote.

8 National Council Elections

"National Council" is prescribed by the party constitution. Loosely stated its role is to be the "board of directors" of the party.

Each province and territory is entitled to a number of members on the national council, roughly based upon the population of the province or territory. In addition, the leader of the party is automatically a member of the national council.

An important piece of business conducted at the 2016 Vancouver convention was the election of new members to the National Council. There was much campaigning by the candidates for National Council during the convention.

9. Conclusion

This report only touches the surface of the events at the 2016 convention in Vancouver. I encourage anyone with an interest in the party to visit the websites mentioned above.

In a nutshell, a conservative party convention is a lot of fun, interesting and well worth the effort.

John Morrissey, President
CPC Eglinton-Lawrence EDA
June 10, 2016


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