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Liberals adopt one-member, one-vote election system

The Liberal Party of Canada will elect future leaders based on a one-member, one-vote election process.

An amendment to the party’s constitution was overwhelmingly approved this morning by party delegates at the Liberal Convention in Vancouver, with supporters calling it a more democratic process.

“I think it’s very important that a message go out from this convention to the people of Canada that the Liberal Party is an open party,” said Bob Rae, MP for Toronto Centre.

“The Liberal Party is not a private club – it’s an organization that belongs to the people of Canada,” he said.

The new leadership selection process will include a system of preferential voting. The leader must obtain the support of at least half of party members.

The change in voting system was heartily endorsed by interim Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff.

“Now all Liberals can have a say in choosing who they want to be their Prime Minister,” said Ignatieff in a press release, shortly after the motion was passed and only hours before he was to be officially crowned leader of the party.

Other MPs speaking in favour of the resolution this morning included Navdeep Bains and Justin Trudeau and former politician Belinda Stronach.

But support for the new system was far from unanimous.

“I think this resolution reflects a false democracy,” said John Gillis, a delegate from Nova Scotia.

“Giving people across the country the vote does not mean we will have more power or more ability to influence what happens. It creates a virtual party,” he said.

Gillis warned that giving the vote to anyone who buys a $10 membership runs the risk of outsiders buying the leadership.

A party press release said the new system is more regionally-balanced because it gives each riding in Canada equal influence.

The Liberals are the last of the major federal parties to adopt the one-member, one-vote leadership selection process.

Garrett Zehr reports for The Tyee.

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