They've got it all worked out:
The supporter category was created earlier this year and was intended to give all comers — not just those willing to pay a membership fee — a voice in choosing the party's next leader. Charging them a fee to vote would appear to defeat the whole purpose and is, according to insiders, unlikely to be adopted by the party's board.
Not satisfied with this brilliant strategy, the federal Liberals also have this to offer:
The results are to be weighted to give each riding equal clout, giving voters in ridings with few Liberals more heft than those in ridings with thousands of members. Without some way to verify addresses, Liberals are concerned supporters could distort the outcome by professing to reside in ridings where there are few Liberals.
In becoming the third party in parliament they seem to have decided to run their affairs like a Third World country. If this is how they would run their internal affairs, imagine how they would run the country? This isn't just a long way off from the days of Uncle Louis, this stuff makes Jean Chretien look like Patton.
Let's say you are a mischievous NDP or Tory party activist. This isn't a Right or Left thing. Campaigns tend to bring out the zealots and the amoralists. Stealing lawn signs, slashing the odd tire, the sort of juvenile stuff that just winds up being a headache to the campaign team. That is assuming the campaign team has a modicum of scruples.
So you're a university student with a bit of computer savvy, lots of time to kill and a bit of grudge against the Liberal Party. Maybe you just don't like Justin. The Shiny Pony gets under your nerves. How difficult would it be to rig the federal Liberal leadership race?
The sign up page to become a supporter asks for a name, e-mail address and postal code. Even assuming that the website is checking the IP address with the postal code, a check which can be defeated with a bit of electronic legerdemain, how does the party know I'm not a Tory or Dipper? Nothing prevents a Conservative or NDP activist from buying another party's membership, though officially you are not suppose to. Because each Grit membership costs $10.00 it would become pricey to rig any vote. Even the Liberal Party would eventually catch on to the number of fake street addresses. But being a "Supporter" costs nothing.
In the interests of citizen journalism I decided to become a "Supporter" of the Liberal Party. I am not a member of any other political party. Since the definition of "Supporter" is somewhat elastic, much as the Party's platform lo these many decades, I'll say that I qualify. I certainly support the Liberal Party of George Brown, Alexander Mackenzie and Wilfrid Laurier. That might seem too clever by half, but then again Bob Rae is party leader. He's been too clever by half for over thirty years.
I promise that I have no intention of helping to choose the next Liberal leader. I have enough guilt on my conscience voting for Tim Hudak.
So here's how the process works:
You visit the sign up page and provide your particulars. The next page asks for a street address and whether I'm an aboriginal. I provided a downtown Toronto address and indicated that I was not an aboriginal. I'm not sure why the Liberal Party wants to know who my ancestors were. Do aboriginal Liberals get extra perks? I'm guessing Portuguese people don't. Another example of modern day Lusophobia.
Shortly after surrendering my soul to the Liberal beast, I receive an e-mail asking me to confirm my registration. Not bad. I almost half suspected they wouldn't take that elementary precaution. The e-mail I received had the subject line: "You did it, Richard."
I understand that our modern youth are low energy and hooked on mindless self esteem boosterism. It is that cohort that the "Supporter" class is geared at attracting. Naturally the Liberal Party leadership wants to make sure these freshly minted pseudo-Liberals feel good about themselves. You can almost imagine boxes of orange juice and hugs.
The e-mail is from Mike Crawley, the President of the Liberal Party. I'm guessing that Mr Crawley is a busy man, even the President of the third party has things to do, so the e-mail is automatically generated. Still it's a nice fake personal touch. Not quite as emotionally sustaining as that autocall I once got from Stephen Harper during the 2008 election, but it's the algorithmically driven thought that counts.
The e-mail itself reads as follows:
Recently, you took the first step toward positive change in Canada:
You became a Liberal Party of Canada supporter – almost. First, you need to click this link to confirm your email address.
Liberals stand for growth, hope and opportunity.
We believe the 21st century can be Canada’s century – through a new kind of politics that inspires and engages Canadians to work together to solve our common challenges.
Over the past few years, it’s gotten harder to save for post-secondary education. Harder to pay for the basics, like gas, groceries and electricity, let alone pay down debt.
How can Canadians create jobs and growth, and build a clean energy economy, when it’s harder than ever to make ends meet?
These are the problems we’re going to solve, together.
As a Liberal supporter, you will lead this movement. You will bring strength in numbers. You will shape our values and our ideas. And you will make our most important choice: who will represent us as Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.
It all starts when you click this link to confirm your email address.
Get ready to change Canada. You’ve got the talent and the passion to do it.
President - Liberal Party of Canada
Hmm. Mike Crawley seems to know a lot about me. He says I have "the talent and the passion" to change Canada. As far as the Liberal Party knows my only talent is filling out an online form. Then again this is the same party that is on the verge of anointing Justin Trudeau as leader. You show up with a smile and a vague sense of entitlement and the Liberal Party welcomes you with open arms. Unfortunately unlike Justin my father was never Prime Minister of Canada, nor was my grandfather a cabinet minister, not even a low-level Grit flunky. This means I cannot run for the Liberal leadership.
The e-mail has two places where I can click to confirm my e-mail address. Why two places? Are you assuming that anyone foolish enough to "support" the Liberal Party won't be clever enough to follow simple instructions? Hmm. Might have answered my own question there.
So I click on the link and it takes me to a survey page. There I am asked some more questions. Goody! I like giving my opinion on politics!
Why did you become a supporter?
I want the opportunity to select the next Liberal Leader
I’ve been voting Liberal for some time so this is the next step
I want to fight for change on a particular issue I care about
My family or friends encouraged me to do so
Since there was no option for "exposing you as the mediocre clowns that you are," I selected "Other." I find it interesting that the fourth option is basically peer pressure. Join the Liberal Party! All the cool kids are doing it! So is your mom!
The survey continues:
What issues do you care about?
Accountability and democratic renewal
Arts and Cultural policy
Justice and Public Safety
Science and Technology
Status of Women
Again the option "ensure the destruction of the Liberal Party" was not available. I selected the economy, though I must confess to being sorely tempted by LGBT Policy. I'm also wondering how many "Supporters" regard "Rural Canada" as an issue they care about. Do left-wing hipsters even know there is a rural Canada? Just curious. I'm reminded of a Liberal Party member who once solemnly told me that Canada was running out of trees. All because of Stephen Harper!
The survey then asks for my street address again - checking twice, cool! - and then poses this statement that is actually the beginning of another series of questions:
Help us connect you with our aboriginal, women, youth or seniors commissions.
It then asks for my gender, age and again whether I'm an aboriginal. It also asks whether I'm English or French, though I'm assuming that's a language preference for correspondence.
Sadly your humble correspondent is not an aboriginal, a women, a youth or a senior. He is a straight, white western European male in his thirties. The minority no one gives a damn about. Why? Because our ancestors were good with guns. I'm not asking for special privileges. I'm just asking that a party with the word "liberal" in its name understand the concept better.
Having identify myself as an unperson by Trudeaupian standards, I clicked Submit at the bottom of the page. I did that an hour ago. The little thing is still twirling. Other websites work fine. Having gone through all this effort the Liberal Party website has just crashed on me.
I have to say that's a foolproof way of avoiding manipulation.
PS - I have attempted to "unsupport" the Liberal Party for the last day or so. I keep getting an error message.