God save the queen

The Young Liberals of Canada have managed to garner attention with a priority policy resolution calling for the abolition of the monarchy. The reason for doing so? To make the country more democratic. Yet the means by which this resolution will arrive on the convention floor was apparently anything but.

The monarchy resolution had to pass several hurdles before becoming the Young Liberals’ priority resolution. Young Liberal policies originate from clubs, and are then submitted to their local Young Liberals of Canada (YLC) Provincial and Territorial Associations (PTAs). YLC PTAs then vote on the resolutions they receive; those that pass are then to be considered by the YLC’s National Policy Committee, composed of members of the YLC National Executive. The YLC Policy Committee takes the resolutions it is given by the PTAs and decides which one of these is to be given priority status.

Like other priority resolutions, the YLC’s priority resolution to abolish the monarchy will automatically be debated on the convention floor. Should it pass, it would become Liberal policy, in theory. Depending on how some other debates go this weekend, it could become Liberal policy, in actuality. Policies originating at the membership influencing party policy! Grassroots democracy for the win!

But like all good democratic processes, there’s a loophole that ensures those in power have a little more of a say than everyone else. The Policy Committee can bypass PTAs and add their own policies to the final pool for consideration. This means that members of the Policy Committee could submit a policy to the pool that they are reviewing alongside PTAs’ policies, consider their own resolution, and among themselves, choose to select their resolution as the one to be granted priority status. That’s how the monarchy policy got onto the convention agenda.

While similar to policy resolutions submitted by the Newfoundland and Labrador and Alberta Young Liberals in 2009, abolishing the monarchy has struck a nerve with some Young Liberals. In a Facebook note dated January 3rd, outgoing YLC VP Organization Elyse Banham, calls out her fellow YLC executives for ensuring that the one resolution “that can’t be touched, and is supposedly a reflection of the YLC hasn’t actually gone through a real mechanism to see if it is a true reflection of the YLC.”

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