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Members in good standing

There is a simple solution to party membership irregularities. The problem is, the politicians seeking to be leaders won’t like it.

It seems that every political party has a problem with signing up members when there is a leadership under way. For the Liberals Kevin Falcon’s crews signed up the Kamloops Blazer hockey team, without the team actually knowing about it; Christy Clark had a cat sign up as a member; for the NDP, Adrian Dix’s workers showed up with duffel bags filled with memberships and cash.

It’s the system that is at fault. Leadership hopefuls try to sign up as many new members as they can in hopes that those new members will vote for them in the upcoming leadership vote. The Liberals are now boasting about 80,000 members. The NDP, who got out of the starting gate behind the Liberals, are at about 30,000 members (expect that to grow as the leadership contenders tour the province signing up new members).

It’s great that there is such interest in political parties. But is there? Not really. The memberships are for one year and a year from now, after the Liberals and NDP have both picked new leaders, the vast majority of those who have signed up now will not renew.

People are only interested in having a say in picking a new leader. They are not interested in the party or the political process.

And, because becoming the leader of a party is the ultimate political pillar, irregularities occur. Some might even say some of the shenanigans that go on are simply dirty politics.

The easy solution to membership sign-ups during leadership races? Change the rules so that people have to have been a member for at least a year in order to vote for a new leader. This restricts the leadership vote to people who are actually committed to being members of a political party, whatever the stripe. Those who want to vote for the leader have to maintain their membership, rather than just jumping on board to vote for a new leader and then forgetting about it.

After all, what’s better for a political party … consistently having 40,000 members or having 20,000 members for most years and then having 80,000 when there’s a leadership race?

— Prince George Free Press