According to columnist Neil Reynold’s in this morning’s Globe and Mail, “Canadian politics could benefit from having its own U.S.-style caucuses, the peculiar candidate-selection gatherings that turn political races into community discussions.”

Take Iowa – all 1700 of them.  Organized as separate decision-making events in every precinct (or ward) Iowa’s caucuses are the very essence of grassroots politics.  Anyone can participate merely by registering at the door.  Nineteen sates still use the caucuses in one form or another.  Since the 1970s Iowa has served as a good low budget way for improbable presidential candidates to get noticed.  The Iowa caucuses propelled Jimmy Carter in 1976.  They propelled Barack Obama in 2008.

The caucuses may not mean that much but they decide a lot.  And they are a lot of fun.  Much more fun than staid leadership races in Canada, noted for their dullness.

In electing new leaders why shouldn’t the NDP and the Liberals look at the caucus route?

Should Canada adopt the U.S.-style caucuses?

What do you think?


  1. 1

    Once again, comparative population: We have 34 million- USA has 340 million.
    They have a huge logistical challenge, to reach so many voters.
    We can probably call out our back doors to each other!

    PS: When I was young, living in a city, at 12 midnight, New Years Eve, my parents stepped out on their porch and hollered “Happy New Year” to neighbours, who were doing the same. 🙂 Now that’s communicating!

  2. 2
    Peter Westenhangar Says:

    I like the sound of the city you were living in there, littlepatti. Was it somewhere on the Great Lakes, the towns there always have a special feel, I find!

  3. 3

    Hi Peter- WOW! Are you a psychic? 🙂
    That was Port Arthur, now known as Thunder bay, Ontario.
    I was 5 years old, & totally fascinated with it all. Don’t ask me why a 5 year old was still up at midnight. My lovely parents included us in everything.

  4. 4
    Barbara Says:

    In choosing a party leader, I think it might be a good idea to consult the base and allow the base to debate and have an influence on the final decision. It could be expensive, though. The NDP is already airing debates among candidates.

    Now the backroom power brokers make the decision, while reps to the convention walk around with scarves on. I find it entertaining to watch the Machiavellian proceedings of the conventions, but it might be nice to have more input from the base. Just sayin’.

  5. 5
    Neil McKenty Says:

    I remember when back rooms were really back rooms – smoke-filled too.
    Like when Franklin Roosevelt, against great opposition, dumped v.p. Henry Wallace in 1940 and replaced him with Harry Truman. What a difference that bold move made.

  6. 6

    。。。and Harry ended up being the one responsible for making the decision to drop the bomb and usher us into the nuclear age.

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