Michael Lee’s Plan for Party Renewal
We owe British Columbians a different kind of politics. The broken promises of John Horgan’s NDP are piling up as fast as the new taxes.
We need a leader who can stand up to John Horgan and present a bold vision for BC. A leader who is willing to do the hard work required to drive real change from the ground up. That leader is Michael Lee.
He will build a party that will provide real solutions and can be trusted to do what is right in a compassionate way.
We need to build a party that is not beholden to insiders and special interests, is free from the political baggage of the past, and understands the voices of everyday British Columbians.
Here’s our chance to reshape our politics. It’s time to work together and create a modern BC Liberal Party that inspires BC.
The BC Liberal Party is at a crossroads. The brand is tarnished, voters do not know our core value proposition, and members feel disconnected. This is not a new problem; the BC Liberals have been steadily losing vote share since 2001.
The situation will only get worse unless something is done to fix our brand. Before we try and convince the greater electorate we’ve done so, the party membership needs to come together and agree a) change is needed and b) what the change looks like.
Michael Lee’s leadership will address organizational, cultural, and financial deficits within the party. His vision is a unified party built on trust and real engagement with members and the public. Building on the foundational values of accountability, community, compassion, integrity and inclusivity, Michael will rebuild a modern, diverse and responsible political party that members will be proud to be a part of. He will set that new standard beginning with his campaign team.
Michael’s campaign will demonstrate what that vision looks like in action.
Develop a leadership accountability pledge
Politics has a reputation for bad behaviour and exploitative relationships due to uneven power dynamics, and the actions of politicians are viewed very cynically. Central control of communications and limiting voices of dissent also contribute to a general trust problem for our party.
There are at least three aspects to our trust problem:
1) The public doesn’t trust us to keep promises.
2) Our membership doesn’t trust that their voices are heard.
3) Very few people trust that we’ve actually done so when we say we’ve learned lessons and have changed.
All three of these issues can be addressed by ensuring that the promises we make are feasible and in line with our stated values, developing strong engagements with members, and actively building communities. The Michael Lee campaign will demonstrate the change we want to see in our party to address these issues.
Michael Lee also publicly pledges to ensure his campaign:
- Adheres to the letter and spirit of the rules of the leadership race as defined by the Leadership Election Organizing Committee (LEOC) and Elections BC;
- Implements a comprehensive code of conduct for all team members; and
- Transparently releases interim campaign expense information during this leadership.
He challenges all other candidates to follow his lead.
Ensure a new standard for transparency
Right now, you must be a party insider to have access to governance documents related to the BC Liberal Party. The policy votes taken at previous conventions are nowhere to be found on our website, while the make-up and mandate of the party executive is not transparent and average members aren’t able to navigate their involvement in the party. To rebuild trust with the membership of the party, we need to create change.
As leader of the BC Liberal Party, Michael Lee will:
- Make party conventions more democratic and open;
- Make policy information from conventions publicly available after each convention;
- Highlight the members of the party executive and leadership team on our website, along with their roles, position descriptions, and contact information;
- Transparently link to political donation information when published by Elections BC;
- Establish a Constitutional Committee to do a root-and-branch governance and transparency audit of the party.
- The committee will work under public terms of reference and present its recommendations for a vote at the next party convention; and
- Set a new standard for transparency among political parties in North America through the above actions.
Implement an inclusive policy development process
Policy development is a key opportunity for membership engagement, as a chance to listen to the voices of current and future members. Our policy process is currently closed, limited, and does not draw in members or solicit new ideas.
Michael Lee’s BC Liberal Party will change that by:
- Having issue-specific roundtables with subject matter experts to build on the basics of our policies and engage with the membership;
- Working to ensure a diverse set of voices is heard throughout the policy development process;
- Establishing a transparent policy development process easily accessible by any member with a clear pathway from ideation to inclusion in the party policy platform for future elections;
- Developing clear guidelines around caucus and party roles in vetting platform commitments;
- Holding a policy convention prior to the next provincial election to aid in platform development.
Hold a two-part vote on changing the party name
Rather than impose a top-down decision about the name of the party he leads, Michael Lee believes that the decision needs to involve the membership. The BC Liberal Party is a membership-based organization where every member has an equal voice and stake in its future. To facilitate a democratic process, once leader, Michael will work with the party executive to establish a two-step voting process to determine the name the party wins the next election with - whether that name remains the “BC Liberal Party” or another chosen name.
- At a convention of the party, two special resolutions will be presented to the members:
- A vote with a ballot question of “Should the BC Liberal Party change its name?”.
- If a majority of the voting members vote yes, a second vote will be held using a ranked ballot to choose the new name. The alternative names that appear on the ballot will involve detailed membership engagement and input prior to the convention.
Build capacity to grow support for candidates and riding associations
Running for public office is a difficult task. It’s expensive, extremely public, requires putting your career on hold for uncertain outcomes, and there’s a huge learning curve. There are also significant barriers to entry that tend to be biased against women, racialized communities, new immigrants, LGBTQ2S+ people, and other marginalized individuals. We have an equity and diversity problem, both real and perceived.
Unlike the NDP, which supports potential candidates developing skills through union and municipal politics, the BC Liberal Party has no “farm team” to bring potential candidates along in the political process and set them up for success in future political leadership roles.
Setting quotas for nominees or candidates runs counter to the merit principles of the party and creates tokenism, but there are practices that can be implemented to empower all potential candidates.
Outside of the run-up to an election, candidates have little contact with the party, let alone support. Likewise, the volunteers who run riding associations are often without regular contact with the leadership of the party. Both groups feel communication is usually one-way and dictated by the party. Fixing that will be instrumental to future electoral success.
Michael Lee’s BC Liberal Party will provide solutions to these challenges by:
- Actively building connections and partnerships with communities and identifying active leaders in communities as potential candidates and champions for our party;
- Establishing a candidate development college and other forums to work with potential candidates to develop their skills on an ongoing basis;
- Producing and making public a seminar series on how-to prepare to run for office, using our diverse MLAs and past candidates to provide candid guidance and mentorship;
- Ensuring that our nominated candidates are from all walks of life with demonstrated track records of community service and respected and trustworthy reputations;
- Working with Elections BC to develop a program to encourage participation of candidates without the financial means to run a full-time campaign;
- Encouraging open and contested nominations;
- Holding a minimum of four provincial council meetings per year, with attendance by the party leader, party executive, and riding presidents, to ensure an ongoing conversation with membership; and
- Strengthening the role of the provincial council and expanding the provincial party executive board to incorporate stronger regional representation.
Modernize fundraising and engagement approaches
The COVID pandemic has increased most British Columbians’ familiarity with digital tools including virtual meetings, online engagement, and social media. Meanwhile, fundraising rules in BC have undergone a massive shift in recent years. Political parties around the world have adapted to modern changes with innovative approaches that improve the efficiency of fundraising, grow community, and improve volunteer relationships. Our party also needs to increase its engagement with diverse voters and communities. By the next provincial election, the party Michael Lee leads will be the Canadian leader in employing best practices in political engagement.
While the rural/urban divide continues to grow, increasing online engagement provides possibilities for finding common ground. Rural BC provides so much to the rest of us and offers important perspectives that can get lost in the noise of urban political arenas.
These important views need to be respected as an integral part of what we do as a party. Rural issues need rural champions.
Michael Lee’s BC Liberal Party will:
- Develop a donor stewardship program, including regular updates for donors to provide clear reporting on where
their money is being spent to demonstrate impact and efficiency;
- Fully implement the recommendations of the Membership Working Group of the party, which Michael
previously chaired, including a commitment to establish mechanisms for year-round engagement;
- Develop, and provide sufficient resources to, a digital operations team to engage with British Columbians;
- Create a northern and rural committee chaired by a member of the party executive to champion those
communities at the party level;
- Hold regular digital town halls with membership, riding presidents and riding associations, with participation
options (such as dial-in access) that also enable the involvement of people without access to high-speed internet;
- Set expectations for caucus members to meet with their riding teams and nearby unheld ridings on a quarterly
- Provide more resources for regional hubs of party operations to support riding associations on the ground
around the province; and
- Empower a panel of entrepreneurs and engagement professionals to recommend best practices for digital
engagement and modern fundraising.