Towards a moreopen Liberal Party

“By adopting our new constitution, our party has taken a bold step. One that help will help us build the most open, innovative, and effective political movement in Canadian history.” Justin Trudeau Leader, Liberal Party of Canada

Building a new Liberal movement: Renewal and consultation

Early in 2016, Justin Trudeau asked LPC President Anna Gainey and your LPC Constitutional and Legal Advisors to lead a working group on determining the constitutional changes needed for the May 2016 Winnipeg Convention.

Tasked with redesigning the party from the ground up, the goals of the working group were to create a more open and accessible party; to modernize the party for the 21st century; and to create a unified party under one constitution that removes many of barriers created by past divisions.

The working group sought direct input from all members and supporters of the party, and 2,116 Liberals completed an online survey to share their opinions, and an astounding 1,279 Liberals provided written comments and advice.

Over the last decade, the Party has held similar consultations. They resulted in important reforms such as the 2012-13 leadership contest and supporter category. This latest round of feedback collection was a natural continuation of that process.

Some of these previous consultations include:

  • 2006 Red Ribbon Renewal Task Force
    The youth involvement task force, lead by Justin Trudeau as chair, produced a 30-page report.
  • 2009 Special Committee on Party Renewal
  • 2009 Change Commission
    39-page report and 17-page follow up two years later
  • 2011 consultations leading to supporter category
    79-page Building a Modern Party background paper

Transitioning to a new Liberal constitution

The new constitution includes several pages of detailed transition information. Some changes took effect immediately, while other changes require the National Board to pass new by-laws, to come into effect January 1, 2017.

At the Convention, we promised that the adoption of the new constitution would be the beginning – not the end – of a consultation process. As such, by-law consultations took place.

In August, By-law Working Groups were established, each one led by an elected member of the National Board and consisting of representatives from the provinces, territories, and commissions. The working groups have led various forms of consultations, including the National By-Law Survey.

Based on the feedback and opinions of over 4000 Registered Liberals, the first draft of the by-laws were written. These drafts were posted online for further consultation. Throughout November, the working groups and National Board reviewed the feedback from Registered Liberals and developed new drafts.

The National Board voted to pass the by-laws in December, and they will take effect on January 1, 2017.

More open than ever before, and strengthening Liberal voices

The new Liberal constitution:

Opens up the Liberal Party of Canada more than ever before, with Canadians who share our values now being able to register as Liberals without being forced to pay a $10 membership fee.

Opens up the policy development process to allow a more flexible, interactive and participatory process for all Liberals, who will now also be able have their voice heard without travel and expense.

Opens up conventions to any Liberal who wants to attend, and gives the party more flexibility in the timing and process of conventions, including eliminating the unnecessary delegate selection meeting process.

Continues the important work of the Liberal commissions, whose existing constitutions will all be continued, as is, into by-laws of the National Board.

One party, one goal: Modernizing our movement to win in 2019

The new Liberal constitution:

  • Unifies the Party under one constitution and national board, while maintaining and guaranteeing regional voices and representation.
  • Supports Electoral District Associations (EDAs) as the central engagement unit for Liberals in our communities, while making it easier for the Party to assist EDAs without 338 different constitutions and varying financial rules.
  • Focuses regional boards on their core mandate of working with EDAs on election readiness and engaging Canadians, including supporting policy development.
  • Maintains the existing voting composition of the National Board, with the positions of Policy Chair and Membership Secretary being renamed Policy Secretary and Party Secretary.
  • Ends the formal legal blended structure for Atlantic provinces (which presented legal challenges) while maintaining the successful status quo on staffing, organizing, and cooperation in these provinces.
  • Substantially maintains all of the existing open leadership rules, which successfully attracted over 300,000 supporters during the 2012/2013 Liberal leadership race.