The Nova Scotia caucus results aren't in
The elaborate American system of primaries, caucuses and straw polls strikes some people as too long and complicated. But it certainly gives voters, and the politically committed, a thorough look at the ideas and characters of candidates... if they have either. And while the concept of an "open" or "semi-open" primary where people who aren't even members of your party can vote might seem scary to those who prefer their politics tightly controlled from the centre, it's a good way of testing the ability of possible leaders to appeal to the general public while keeping the party faithful happy. For my money, Canadian contests like the current NDP leadership race would be more interesting, and more useful to the party and the nation, if the candidates were going out and trying to win over party members and Canadians generally in a loose series of very public provincial contests with locally determined rules and local flavours, instead of staged national debates, backroom endorsement-winning manoeuvres and a highly centralized voting process.
Of course, for all their elaborate nominating process Americans often get mediocre leaders or, worse, ones who leave you longing for good old mediocrity. But I'd argue that Canadians too have had more than our share of hapless or disastrous political masters, and in my view our system means we are far more likely to get handed a dud than pick him or her ourselves after proper consideration.
I'd actually like to see a return to the days when the parliamentary caucus chose the leader, which I think is more in keeping with the parliamentary system. But if that's too radical for our progressively populist times, who's up for the B.C. straw poll, the Ontario primary and the Nova Scotia caucus?