"I get the sense that all of this may be, as the
song goes, “a lesson to late for the learning”
unless as some rumors suggest Frank Coleman
may quit before being sworn in as Premier,
causing the PC leadership to be called all over
I read it in the Pearl first, the rumor that Frank Coleman was going to throw in the towel before being sworn in as Premier. The editor, Dr. Scott Reid mentioned it in the May 26-June 8, 2014 edition.Here is the full article for your consideration. If you are part of the PC Executive or the leadership planning committee it may not be too late to accept some free, sage advice now that Frank Coleman has produced a mulligan.Advice for the PC PartyThe PearlLeader selection is one of the most importantfunctions performed by a political party. In doingthis parties filter the prospective leaders whichthe full electorate has to choose from in a generalelection.The selection of a new leader becomes evenmore important when the leader is being chosenwhen the party is in power because the personselected automatically becomes Premier andstarts making decisions which impact the wholeprovince.This is why I feel compelled to give some advicein a public way to the PC Party in this provincewho seem to have gotten the process sowrong over the past few years.Sometimes train wrecks happen for unpreventablereasons. It is an accident and no onecould have foreseen the circumstances whichled to it happening or stopped it. But other timesthere are circumstances which could have beenaltered, safety precautions which could havebeen taken, but were not. The polls and mediacoverage certainly indicate things have gone offthe rails with the PC party in this province and itis worth asking why and how could it have beenprevented.The local PC Party maybe could have learnedby taking a look west to the process used bythe PC Party in Alberta to select their leaderssince 1971. They have an open primary processwhere anyone in the province can show up, paya $5 registration fee and vote for the leader. Afterthe first round they then have another runoffvote involving just the top two contenders. Ithas worked well for them in the sense that theyhave been able to remain in power with significantmajorities over an extended period of time,despite strong challenges from parties on boththe left and right of the political spectrum.Academics who have studied this stuff (Steward& Sayers,2012) point out that the processallows the party to adjust to the challenges theyface and that sometimes means selecting someonewho is not the favorite of the party powerbrokers.Instead of looking at what is happeningaround the country and the world, the PC Partychose to stick with the same old process claimingthat it creates more drama and a more excitingconvention. Well that really didn’t work outdid it.The fact is that the process used to select aleader also impacts on the likelihood of candidatesrunning. People come forward and offerthemselves when they think they have a fair andopen process with a chance of being heard andpossibly convincing people to vote for them. Thespectacle of Bill Barry, a person of substantialfinancial means, saying the deck was stackedagainst him should send a clear message to theParty executive as it does to the wider electoratethat this was not a fair and open process.Leadership selection processes are reallyopportunities for parties to get ready for thenext election. They energize supporters and legitimizethe leader’s position. The process alsoshould prepare and make the winner a bettercampaigner and debater. The public should havea chance to get to know the candidates betterand get a chance to warm-up to them. Leadershipselection processes such as the one usedin Alberta, allows a party that has been in powerfor a while to re-invent itself and to choose a newdirection.I get the sense that all of this may be, as thesong goes, “a lesson to late for the learning”unless as some rumors suggest Frank Colemanmay quit before being sworn in as Premier,causing the PC leadership to be called all overagain.In any event the academic literature relatedto when parties move from the closed delegatedconvention to a more open and inclusive directvotes for leaders, indicates that this is more likelyto happen when a party is in opposition. Theeggheads who spend their lives studying thisstuff conclude that “winners seldom innovate”and “electoral defeat is the mother of change”for political parties. I suspect the PC Party willhave an opportunity to make this change in thenot too distant future.