'lies, damned lies and statistics'
By Brian Burchill

Stephen Harper's campaign manager, John Reynolds, called Keith Martin's defection to the Liberals "a betrayal" and asks, "So what has changed in the ensuing three months?"

One thing that has not changed is the ongoing exodus of prominent Members of Parliament (Bachand, Brison, Clark, Herron, etc.) from the new Conservative Party.

"How can this be?" a bewildered public is asking. After all, didn't Tory Progressive Conservative leader Peter MacKay and Alliance leader Stephen Harper claim that the PC-Alliance merger was given "ringing endorsements" by 90 per cent and 96 per cent of their members?

The confusion has arisen because MacKay (who deceived David Orchard in order to win the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party) and Harper have deceived the public by opting to use misleading statistics.

Recall Benjamin Disraeli's "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

The facts? Only 57 per cent of the Alliance membership voted in support of the merger. The 96 per cent was of the 59 per cent of the Alliance members who voted, not of the total membership.

As for the Progressive Conservative Party statistics, there very simply are none indicating the level of support by the 60,000 Progressive Conservative members because no numbers were recorded. Those overseeing the Delegate Selection Meetings steadfastly refused to permit a voting procedure that would enable members' support to be identified or delegates to be elected on a proportionate to a YES and NO vote to merger.

On December 6, 90.4 per cent of fewer than 3,000 delegates voted YES to merger. This figure, the only valid Progressive Conservative member-support statistic available, represents the views of a mere 3.7 per cent of the total Progressive Conservative membership, but is continually being cited as being that of the 60,000 members.

So, a betrayal indeed, but by MacKay and Harper, not the defectors. The claims of more than 90 per cent ringing endorsements are so much bunkum.

No regard for integrity or fairness

Knowledge of irregularities designed into last fall's PC-Alliance merger ratification process might give Canadians good reason to question whether they should have faith in the integrity of the new Conservative Party. Here is just one of the irregularities to ponder.

On Nov. 1, 2003, in proceedings of the Annual General Meeting of the British Columbia Council of the Progressive Conservative Party, the following motion was duly moved and seconded:

Whereas, the proposed ratification process for the Agreement-in-Principle allows for double-voting, by voting once in each of two Parties; and

Whereas, Wainberg's Rules of Order, Robert's Rules of Order, the Canada Elections Act, and the Constitutions of this Council and of the federal Progressive Conservative Party of Canada all safeguard the democratic principle of one vote per voter;

It is the will of the British Columbia Council of The Progressive Conservative Party of Canada that the ratification process for the Agreement-in-Principle include safeguards to ensure that no voter receives opportunity for more than one vote at any stage of the process.

Which is more incredible: the fact that this motion was defeated, or that such a motion was ever needed (in Canada no less)?

By defeat of this motion, supporters (at this AGM) of the creation of the Conservative Party chose to reject the principle of one vote per voter in order to uphold the double-vote designed into the ratification process. I am confident that every Canadian recognizes this as an egregious violation of a most fundamental principle of the democratic process. It certainly is contrary to the single-vote procedure so thoroughly protected by the Canada Elections Act.

Any defense of this double-vote process by saying that it was not under the jurisdiction of the Canada Elections Act would be an insult to Canadians' strong sense of fairness.

With such disregard for principle, integrity and fairness in the very creation of the Conservative Party, would Canadians not be justified to be cynical about the current and future conduct of the new Conservative Party?

Brian Burchill is the immediate past president of the Victoria Progressive Conservative Association.