Old east-west Tory battle over leadership rules resurfaces yet again

A chronic struggle within Conservative ranks over leadership rules has resurfaced in advance of the party convention later this month, pitting east against west and Red Tories versus Canadian Alliance stalwarts.

OTTAWA — A chronic struggle within Conservative ranks over leadership rules has resurfaced in advance of the party convention later this month, pitting east against west and Red Tories versus Canadian Alliance stalwarts.

Two resolutions up for debate in Calgary would fundamentally alter the way leaders are chosen, and theoretically favour future contestants from Western Canada.

One resolution, from an unidentified riding, would give each party member a vote in a leadership race. A similar resolution was defeated at the last convention in 2011 after a sometimes passionate debate on the floor.

“Democracy is best served when members serve the leader and when leadership candidates seek support from and serve the membership,” reads the resolution.

Another similar resolution would give more weight to larger riding associations in a leadership vote.

When the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative parties merged in 2003, a central part of the agreement was that each riding association would be given an equal say in a leadership vote.

The idea was that the riding associations in Western Canada with thousands of members would not be able to swamp the smaller ridings in areas such as Quebec and Atlantic Canada. The issue has been characterized as a deal breaker by some well acquainted with the merger.

“If it’s a clear win for the one-person, one-vote, I think it does have the potential sadly to have been constructively divisive,” Conservative Sen. Hugh Segal said in an interview.

“It indicates that some ridings that happen to have a large membership because of where they are and how they are located will always be able to push around ridings where we have a smaller membership.”

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