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Editorials Globe editorial: Liberal Party entitlement rears its head again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau set a smart precedent in 2013 when, as the newly chosen party leader, he ended the Liberals' two-decade practice of protecting incumbent MPs from the inconvenience of riding nomination contests.

He, among others, believed doing so would reinvigorate a moribund party overrepresented with MPs infamous for their sense of entitlement. The result of the 2015 general election proved he was onto something.

Now in power, he has caved to the demands of Liberal MPs who feel entitled to their nominations. Under rules unveiled at a caucus meeting over the weekend, the party will automatically renew the candidacy of incumbent MPs in advance of general elections.

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The Liberals will argue, of course, that there's nothing automatic about it. MPs who want a free pass to run for re-election in their riding will have to meet "criteria."

Those include: making 5,000 phone calls or knocking on 3,500 doors; taking part in at least two "voter contact days of action" in the previous 12 months; and having a healthy war chest.

Sorry, but those targets are a cinch to meet for incumbent MPs. They have party volunteers to handle much of it – they don't have to knock on all those doors or dial all those phone numbers themselves. Unless the MP in question is a lazy incompetent, his or her acclamation will effectively be automatic.

This resurrected Liberal system is anti-democratic. MPs in safe Liberal ridings have effectively been gifted with seats for life – U.S. senators must be looking on with envy.

Worse, the Liberal system usurps the democratic principle that voters should have the unhindered opportunity to review their elected representatives every four years.

Like the controlling machinations of Stephen Harper during his time as PM, it is also another nail in the coffin of the quaint idea that MPs are elected to hold the government to account on their voters' behalves, and not act as the servile employees of the Prime Minister's Office.

And it is a reminder that, when it comes to a sense of entitlement, the Liberal Party of Canada has no equal.

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