LPC Execs to Reformers: Get Stuffed!

wcan-homer

A little over two months ago, Michael Ignatieff announced the “establishment of a special committee to ensure the Liberal Party is well equipped during this critical period of reform and rejuvenation.”

“Renewal will take many forms,” Ignatieff said at the time. “It is my hope the Liberal Party of Canada will be guided by the views of each and every one of its members as we think about our policies, our structures and our methods of engaging with Canadians.”

Chaired by former national director Steve MacKinnon and stacked with Ignatieff supporters, the commission was tasked with finding ways to “facilitate feedback and encourage grassroots involvement” amongst other things.

The result? All but one of the committee’s recommendations (that were pretty feeble and designed to be as unremarkable and non-controversial as possible to begin with) were narrowly voted down by the National Executive. The “one member, one vote” proposal that barely managed to survive the process will now go forward to the LPC convention where it will voted on by delegates who are, for obvious reasons, most likely to reject that one as well.

So much for the promised “reform and rejuvenation” of the Liberal Party.

Advertisements

60 Comments

Filed under Liberal Party of Canada, Michael Ignatieff

60 responses to “LPC Execs to Reformers: Get Stuffed!

  1. Love the image. The rest sickens me. So much for change.

  2. If the apparatchiks of the LPC are so committed to maintaining the status quo (that’s repeatedly failed quite dismally), it’s difficult to see how they can have any pretense of delivering worthwhile “change” to the country at large. Maybe they need another few years in the “penalty box” as it’s quite evident they’ve learned absolutely NOTHING thusfar.

  3. Being one of the “undeclared” delegates, I can assure you that I will vote the right way. Me, and the other 4 undeclared delegates.

  4. I’m very much wishing now that the leadership had been contested.

    What’s going to come out of this convention in Vancouver, anyway? Not policy (so it’s been declared), and certainly not any significant kind of “reform and rejuvenation”… so it’s just a coronation and big “meet-up” for all the party insiders. Woop-de-doo.

  5. Ted

    Red:

    One of the things I like about this blog is that, while clearly partisan, you have no druthers taking on your own side and pull no punches.

    Another thing I like is that you pull no punches because you seem to dig past the spin machines and into the facts, no matter how much the facts don’t support the spin of your “side”.

    So we have one fact – that a bunch of renewal resolutions were voted down by the National Executive – but we seem to be missing some more significant facts here: What did these resolutions actually say?

    Take for example the rejection of the resolution on the Liberal308 strategy. Was it a “robust” or onerous resolution? If so, then I see a danger in adopting a policy that is going to tie their hands in running an effective election campaign. For example, did the resolution require equal spending in every riding as part of a “robust” 308 strategy? That would be ludicrous and self-defeating and ought to have been rejected.

    From what I have read online, the National Executive was presented with these sweeping resolutions only some hours before voting on them. I don’t think it is unreasonable to want to think through them. And I don’t think you can equate a rejection of a particular resolution with a rejection of the policy of competing vigorously in 308 ridings.

    For the first time, perhaps since Chretien perhaps well before that, the party is clearly focused on aggressively competing in every region if not every riding. I think the actions of Ignatieff and the party are already speaking louder than any piece of paper could.

    We’ll see if that actually plays out in policy, but we’ve already seen the reaction from some Liberals when it does: to compete across the country, we have to adopt policies that appeal to those outside of the big cities. That national renewal will require some policy changes that will not be comfortable for a lot of old school liberals.

  6. As Seinfeld would say: “it’s a show about nothing”

  7. Ted

    Had another thought which I don’t quite get.

    You accuse the renewal commission of being stacked with Iggy supporters and, presumably, not that keen on grassroots renewal as a result. But then the National Executive gets accused of being in Iggy’s pocket and rejecting the proposals.

    So is Iggy controlling everything? And if so, why would “his” renewal committee introduce something that “his” National Executive would reject?

    With respect, I think there is a great deal of oversimplification in how policy and constitutional changes are enacted within the party. This is one route and it seems that the National Executive was given insufficient time to deliberate on the very sweeping proposals. I would think it not unreasonable at all to require more time to consider specific and sweeping proposals.

    Moreover, that is not the end of it. This is but one route for changes to be implemented.

  8. So what you’re saying Ted is that this elite group assigned to the Renewal Committee wasn’t really about “substance” at all…..as most of us suspected all along.

  9. So is Iggy controlling everything?

    – He’s not. But, someone is.

    With respect, I think there is a great deal of oversimplification in how policy and constitutional changes are enacted within the party. This is one route and it seems that the National Executive was given insufficient time to deliberate on the very sweeping proposals. I would think it not unreasonable at all to require more time to consider specific and sweeping proposals.

    -this route gave grassroots members false hope whereby they actually thought their ideas would get to Vancouver.

    Moreover, that is not the end of it. This is but one route for changes to be implemented.

    -Nope. Not the end at all. There’s always the 2011 biennial to spring forward an idea or two.

  10. Ted — I’ve only seen a summary of the proposals put before the National Executive and haven’t been able to look at them in detail. I would presume that they were a thoughtful distillation of feedback the committee received from the grassroots.

    One question comes immediately to mind from your comments. Why would the executive have been presented with so-called “sweeping resolutions” but only given “some hours” of deliberation prior to voting on them? Surely there’s something fundamentally absurd occurring if that was, in fact, the case.

    Also, I don’t know how rejecting a proposal to more vigorously pursue the “308” strategy can be viewed as anything other than what it is… a rejection of what was put forward. From what I gather that was the rather simple idea that all ridings should meet the bare minimum requirements to function properly. Wow, there’s a radical concept! I believe a recommendation was made to hire some people to achieve this goal and maybe that was the sticking point. Perhaps it’s just not feasible to implement such a thing in the foreseeable future, given the party’s limited finances. Which would seem obvious and begs the question why such a non-starter was proposed in the first place…

  11. Ted — Regarding your follow-up comment, I don’t presume to know much about the “inside baseball” machinations of the LPC (nor do I really care all that much, truth be told) and my impressions are most definitely “over-simplifications”…

    Perhaps if there was more transparency to the process and a better accounting of the deliberations involved that was made available to members and other interested parties, we might all be able to comment on them in a more informed and insightful manner rather than just engaging in idle speculation or jumping to (possibly wrong) conclusions.

  12. Wait a sec

    “I’ve only seen a summary of the proposals put before the National Executive and haven’t been able to look at them in detail. ”

    So, in other words, we shouldn’t take your blog post seriously.

    I mean, with all due respect, I’ll resist jumping on any finger-pointing bandwagon until I actually know what was proposed and what was voted on.
    Maybe we all should.

  13. Wait a sec

    And proposals are either “sweeping” or they are “specific”. It’s an inherent contradiction for them to be both.

  14. Wait a sec

    My last snipe (I promise)

    The headline is a bit inaccurate. Yes the LPC Executive voted it down, but it was the LPC execs who generally supported the motion. It was the PTA execs who generally opposed it. I stress the word “generally”. So generally speaking, the well-heeled insider LPC executive members who were elected nationally at expensive biennial conventions in faraway places supported the reform package, and those elected in their respective provincial associations did not.

    What is interesting about this, is that it contradicts the usual tripe about national executive members being detached from the grass roots of the party.

    If the grass roots want reform (or this reform, anyway) then they’re more likely to get it from those Nationally-elected people they whine about most often, and less likely to get it from the PTAs who are purportedly “closer” to them.

    This turns a lot of previous blogposts on their heads, when you think about it.

    If people are really supportive of this reform package (once we actually see details of it) then I strongly suggest they make their feelings known to their provincial presidents.

  15. Ted

    One question comes immediately to mind from your comments. Why would the executive have been presented with so-called “sweeping resolutions” but only given “some hours” of deliberation prior to voting on them? Surely there’s something fundamentally absurd occurring if that was, in fact, the case.

    Exactly my point.

    “Also, I don’t know how rejecting a proposal to more vigorously pursue the “308″ strategy can be viewed as anything other than what it is… a rejection of what was put forward.”

    Also exactly my point. We just don’t know what was proposed so we don’t know what was rejected. Yet, lots of people are taking the rejection of what was put forward as a rejection of the grassroots. If it was a specific proposal to hire X number of people to be solely dedicated to Liberal308, to take your example, was this costed out? Was it necessary given other initiatives to commit the party’s few dollars in this specific a way? Did the resolution require some minimum or equal amount be spent on each riding? I can see lots of reasons to reject that while still embracing the idea of Liberal308. I just don’t know what the proposal was and so can’t really say much about it.

    Does anyone have some real facts here on this?

    (Wait a sec – a proposal can be both: it can be a specific action that will have widespread sweeping effect, like the examples I gave; or the proposal can be many specific items that result in sweeping changes.)

  16. Wait a sec — No, don’t take it seriously. At all.

    It’s only right and proper to ignore the fact that all but one of the proposals put forward by the committee appointed by the current leader of the party to make recommendations for “reform and rejuvenation” were rejected by the National Executive because they were (pick one or more):

    • Presented in haste.
    • Poorly conceived.
    • Impractical or not feasible.
    • Incompatible with goals of the National Executive.
    • Otherwise unfit.

    I’d say that represents kind of an EPIC FAIL for this latest “Red Ribbon” committee.

    p.s. The “sweeping” characterization wasn’t mine. I had described them as “unremarkable and non-controversial”…

  17. “The headline is a bit inaccurate. Yes the LPC Executive voted it down, but it was the LPC execs who generally supported the motion. It was the PTA execs who generally opposed it. I stress the word “generally”. So generally speaking, the well-heeled insider LPC executive members who were elected nationally at expensive biennial conventions in faraway places supported the reform package, and those elected in their respective provincial associations did not.”

    – and you would know this how Wait a Sec? unless of course you were in the room with the 17 members.

  18. I have experience dealing with issues like these, though not within the LPC. Mine were from the Green Party of Ontario, in which I was an elected exec council member, and in the GPC, where I worked with a few councillors on what can only be called a mammoth political mess.

    Comments like these:

    “So is Iggy controlling everything? And if so, why would “his” renewal committee introduce something that “his” National Executive would reject?”

    demonstrate oversimplification. Yes, people can be clearly in “someone else’s court”, but rarely are they so much so as to exhibit no independence whatsoever. The faction I fought against in the GPC was clearly split along shifting lines within itself, united mostly only in its opposition to certain influential members and principles.

    Then again, if united, a faction can still pass along grassroots crumbs like 1P1V, figuring it will be defeated anyway.

    Then again, maybe they like it and went against Iggy — is Iggy really so against it? Of course, I heard him a few days ago speak out against STV in BC. Of course, the LPC braintrust hates electoral reform because if it ever makes it federally, they would actually have to share power.

    Do you really think they cried when Harper managed to pull off prorogation? It avoided power sharing with the NDP, and set the stage for them to use that anti-democratic power one day.

    We know that the old boys LPC backroom is back to running things now, and that it fought Dion in many ways.

    Most political parties are run by less than 5% of the actual membership, and most of those are yes-persons for someone else.

    I’m really disgusted with the LPC now, and have ceased to actively support it since Iggy’s pre-emptive coronation. I’ve actually given up on Federal politics. There’s work to be done, but no one is seriously working on what I know to really matter.

  19. Ted

    Red:

    It was me that called the proposals sweeping. But if they were truly unremarkable then I’m not sure why so many are so fussed by their rejection.

    I’ve heard the same thing as Wait a sec (in discussions over at CalgaryGrit, who confirms he’s heard the same thing, and elsewhere), namely that the PTA’s resisted the changes and mainly because it centralized power away from them and gave it to the central party (like every other national party here and abroad).

    Sounds like they are a little protective of their regional fiefdoms.

  20. I think the bottom-line or “take away” here is that we need more transparency and a better accounting of these matters so we’re not (as I’ve apparently done here) oversimplifying or misrepresenting decisions taken by party executives, delegates, etc.

    Maybe that should have been one of the recommendations of this committee… 😉

  21. Ted — I meant “unremarkable” insofar as being what I would consider being statements of the blindingly obvious. But then… as seems to be apparent from some of the discussion here, the devil is in the details and if that involves taking “power” (as hilariously feeble and desperately lame as that is) away from the “regional fiefdoms” of over-protective PTAs, well that might well account for their failure to gain any traction.

    As an outsider, all I can say is, if the LPC can’t manage to get its own house in order and evolve into a viable political entity ready to compete effectively in all regions of the country, then it’s pretty rich for it to presume that it can offer a superior level of governance.

  22. CWTF

    …. I strongly suggest they make their feelings known to their provincial presidents.
    I have. I’m still waiting for her response. She seem busier selling her furniture and car and working with Iggy. Maybe you can call her: 450-202-0730*

    Heck, I even tried to reach her when she was running in my district (last Federal elections). I’m still waiting for the call back because I though she needed volunteers. Fortier was putting up a fierce campaign – he lost to the BQ. Liberals were not even close. In part, I think because there were so poorly organized. In fact, Mme Legault came off as a real chowderhead… Glad she was able to climb the Liberal ranks… nice to see that I’m still “invited to take part in all the policy forums.”

    * Just Google that number. You’ll get listings for items that Brigitte Legault (a party insider; National Vice-President ) is selling.
    That number is also the number of the local association…

  23. Rob H.

    The conservative wades in.

    The thing I hate about politics, generally, is the sort of fear than people have towards losing thier grip on whatever it is they’re holding onto. We get it in the Provincial PC party in Alberta, I saw it big time when I first began to get involved in the Provincial Liberal party – there was almost a paranoia over anyone new coming to a meeting.. someone who might “take over” or some such stupid thing.. which is one reason I became involved in the PC party.. at least they were friendly and encouraging..

    But not to make it a partisan thing.. I think all parties have a sort of “power elite” who really get rankled when there is a suggestion that the “same old, same old” isn’t good enough. It becomes a personal affront of sorts. It appears the federal Liberals are dealing with this at present.. and it doesn’t bode well, particularly for a “progressive” party to so clearly denigrate recommendations for change.

    Not that I’m too broken up or anything.. but, well, there it is.

  24. CWTF

    I strongly suggest they make their feelings known to their provincial presidents.
    I have. I’m still waiting for her to call back.
    She seems busier trying to sell her furniture and car.*

    Actually, I’m still waiting for someone to call-back with regards to volunteering during that last federal elections. Not to worry, she was rather ineffective and was easily beat by Fortier. Thank God the BQ was organized.
    In actually fact, Mme Legault came off as an third rate candidate and rather ineffective. Her main selling point was that she was from the region and thought that the elections would be fought on women’s right (I only wish I could make this up).

    Given that this is the Liberal party, she has risen to the rank of National Vice-President (French) – no need to be effective after all…

    I am glad the the Liberals have “invited to take part in all the policy forums” with my donation.

    * The local association phone number is 450-202-0730. If Googled, you’ll get ads for the various items that Brigitte Legault is selling….

  25. CWTF-1

    I strongly suggest they make their feelings known to their provincial presidents.
    I have. I’m still waiting for her to call back.
    She seems busier trying to sell her furniture and car.*

    Actually, I’m still waiting for someone to call-back with regards to volunteering during that last federal elections. Not to worry, she was rather ineffective and was easily beat by Fortier. Thank God the BQ was organized.
    In actually fact, Mme Legault came off as an third rate candidate and rather ineffective. Her main selling point was that she was from the region and thought that the elections would be fought on women’s right (I only wish I could make this up).

    Given that this is the Liberal party, she has risen to the rank of National Vice-President (French) – no need to be effective after all…

    I am glad the the Liberals have “invited to take part in all the policy forums” with my donation.

    * The local association is 450-202-0730. If Googled, you’ll get ads for the various items that Brigitte Legault is selling….

  26. CWTF — Your previous comments got shunted to the spambox by WordPress. Just so you know… Not “moderation” or anything like that. Sorry for not being quicker off the mark in freeing them up.

  27. CWTF-1

    No worries – please feel free to delete any two of them…

  28. I think you all assume that anyone was organized enough to block or support anything. Kind of stretch IMO.

    As for some of the proposals, I mentioned to you a long time ago RT that the local PTA organizations were the one strength the party had as far as field organizers for elections, but were a disaster for fundraising and party unity and cohesiveness. Exactly the opposite of the Tories who remade themselves after the unite the right redo, and eliminated their PTAs. Everything is centrally run, including field organizing, which is why they lost Quebec so badly, and why they will never win there again.

    Thing is, the PTAs and ridings are rightly afraid that in the long run they will be crippled financially if they hand over all of their fundraising power and organizing to a central group in Ottawa. With centrally controlled organizing and money, all it takes is one idiot leader or party president and we will lose our shirts nationwide.

    But I don’t think Iggy is that guy, or any of the people around him. They know the stakes and they want to win, so they will continue to fund local field organizers to help the candidates. But we have to deal with central fundraising and these new rules or we are screwed. The local guys just needed some assurance. Obviously they didn’t get the assurances they needed.

    Anyway, this can still all work out if Iggy plays it the right way and makes it clear he wants it, and gets Rae to do it as well, and everyone understands the issues involved.

    As for OMOV, I don’t know. Lots of people who previously would have said they only want a delegated convention, are leaning towards this. Regardless though, you are always going to have to have biennial conventions. Like corporate annual meetings, they are a legal requirement. Do they have to be this big? No, but as I said before, conventions are fun and interesting and an amazing way to meet people and enjoy debates in person. They have their own benefits, and when you have been to a few, maybe your opinion will change?

    Never say never…

  29. Actually Aurelia, effective today, the LPC will be enforcing a $10 membership fee across the board. From coast to coast. Of that $10, they are automatically keeping 3.50. Then, the provincial associations are taking thei portion. This leaves the ridings with around 3.25 to put into their bank. You know, the ridings, the ones that have to fund an election campaign on the ground. Those ridings?

    I’m not sure where these constitutional membership changes were made. I must have missed the memos to vote for these things.

    So much for the PTAs keeping a foothold.

  30. James,

    A lot of the membership rules were changed during last leadership because of all the problems that had happened in the past with restrictions of getting paper membership forms. Dion also pushed through some reform on this after he won but not enough.

    And that money? All it has ever done is just barely cover the cost of maintaining membership. In twenty years of being a Liberal, I can’t remember one campaign that ever got more than a bare pittance of it’s funds from membership sales. Each paper mailing costs a buck, and not everyone in Canada has email. Computer lists and databases cost money to maintain. You need to pay staff to keep lists current.

    The PTAs for example, take that money and then do mailings with it on behalf of the riding. The riding uses it to cover some costs incurred in the running of the riding. The central party uses their portion to cover the cost of the membership cards and computers and staff for the database, plus Visa and Mastercard take their cut when we charge membership on credit cards.

    They mostly all lose money James. Membership really should cost $20 a person, or $25 if you really want to tell the truth. I assume they didn’t raise it higher because of the recession, but they are going to have to at some point.

  31. Let’s see. 400 members at $10 per year times the normal 4 year cycle. Oops 16k? I think that’s a fine start to a riding launching a campaign.

    Throw in a contested nomination (our last one scored 2100 members and the one before that 4500) and voila, half a campaign.

    But based on your statement above, we should do away with the PTAs and EDAs completely and have the party divvy up money to the candidates.

  32. James,

    You think you can keep 400 members a year for 4 straight years? No way…plus as I said all the money goes to maintaining the membership itself.

    And I never said get rid of the PTA’s, etc. Just that for fundraising, we should do it centrally from one big list for the central campaign itself, instead of 11 different uncoordinated lists as we do now, and then local candidates can each do their own fundraising locally for their riding perhaps with some advice and help from central party. For organization purposes I think that PTA’s should be more like satellite offices, like a local bank branch with a head office model. I don’t want it all located only in Ottawa, ever. But they are all independant right now, careening all over the damn place, with no obligation to follow LPC and Iggy at all.

    We just need to work with one purpose, in one direction, and having a zillion people in charge but nobody really is the boss is just not working. It hasn’t for a long long time. We just covered well during the Chretien years when the right was disorganized. 😉

    Gotta go to hockey now, see you later!

  33. Ted

    The Democrats had a similar problem with the old school local party governance competing with the national governance. It took the Democrats to get decimated by Bush and co. before they realized the value in working with a national focus because that is how people vote, and getting around the local fiefdoms and entrenched power holds. Howard Dean worked tirelessly to create a truly national structure, not so simply nationally controlled, but nationally directed fundraising, campaigning, policy-making. Obama then built on that streamlined structure to great success by grafting an electronic campaign (and his charisma).

    The same thing happened with the Conservatives leading to Harper. The regional parties were barriers to national party success and the grassroots who were motivated by national issues, rather than Byzantine local chieftans. Once they rebuilt as a national party, the fundraising and the policy pressures from grassroots were very dynamic and very successful.

    To a lesser but very similar extent, the same thing happened with “New Labour” under Blair and the Republicans in the US in the 1990s.

  34. All the tinkering in the world won’t make a lick of difference if the party is bereft of ideas and wobbly about its principles. Aside from “not being Harper” what does the LPC stand for these days? Not that much, it seems.

  35. Ted

    RT:

    I wish that were true. Unfortunately, Chretien, Harper and Obama have all shown that not to be the case.

  36. Ted — If you go to the LPC website you won’t find a single thing that plainly states what the party stands for, believes in or represents. It’s quite astonishing really. There may be some rhetoric buried in their press releases and salvos directed at the Conservatives, but aside from that you’d be hard pressed to figure out what it’s all about. Go to the “Join the Party” page… It doesn’t even tell you WHY you should join or what possible advantage there is in doing so. Also, it asks odd questions like whether you’re a student or of “aboriginal ancestry”… What’s up with that?

  37. Ted

    “What’s up with that?”

    The voters rendered their view on Liberal policies. They are in the process of being developed. It takes time, but I agree it is a big problem and makes it difficult to recruit (the growing numbers notwithstanding). It was the same problem for a year or so after Dion took over.

  38. They are in the process of being developed… It was the same problem for a year or so after Dion took over.

    So, in other words, the Liberals have been utterly vacant of policy or principles for the past… oh, let’s say, THREE YEARS. Isn’t that wonderful? Yes, I understand that they may well be working things out on the fine details of such matters, but it blows me away that there’s absolutely NOTHING in terms of overarching ideas being communicated while they fiddle and faff around with where the party stands on taxing carbon or whatever…

  39. Ted

    No – there was a full platform released for the election. It went down with the leader. Start again as far as policies are concerned.

    As far as general statement of overarching values, I agree with you completely. That should be up there. Some basic something should be up there. At least on federalism.

    That’s always been the big problem for this centralist party, non-ideological, non-dogmatic party, though hasn’t? That’s no excuse, of course, but ask 100 Liberals what it means to be a Liberal and you may get 102 different answers.

  40. I understand that platforms come and go and that political parties are most usually in a constant state of reinvention and adaptation as they respond to issues of the day, but surely there have to be abiding principles and a thread of ideas providing some kind of continuity from past to present and… the future. That’s absent from the Liberal Party however and it worries me somewhat that too much stock is being put in the leader (a questionable figure who many still have difficulty accepting) and little thought being given to what the party stands for. Aside from not being Harper or any of the other alternatives, that is.

    And yes, there’s the “cat-herding” aspect of getting any kind of consensus from Liberals as to what that means, but come on — how much would it take to set out a few “bright lines” as to where the party stands on issues such as the environment, social justice, taxation, civil liberties, and so on. The latest set of attack videos from the Liberal camp (ie. “Grit Girl”) accuse the Conservatives of “making it up as they go along” but how laughable is that? Talk about projection… this is exactly what the Liberals are doing — extemporizing as they stumble along… towards what, who knows? Power, I guess. But what do they want to accomplish if/when they get it?

  41. RT,

    They ask if you are aboriginal or a student or for gender because you will have different rates for events for students vs. adults and aboriginals and women are automatically also part of their respective commissions and get contacted.

    Carry on…

  42. Aurelia — So “aboriginals” and “women” get their own commissions? Well, isn’t that special… What about other groups of people that are “distinct” or “visible” in some way?

  43. Is there a special commission for white, anglo-saxon, heterosexual males? ..that vanishing minority? ..oh yeah, that would apparently be the Conservative Party.. lol..

    All kidding aside – for people of “ideas” it is a rather dismal time in Canadian politics.. as Conservatives bash Stephen Harper for being a closet Liberal, so Liberals attack Ignatieff for being a closet Conservative.. and at the same time, no party, even the NDP, exhibits a strong philosophical base.. well, perhaps excepting the Green Party..

    But, maybe, it’s because ideology and, if you will, philosophy, is becoming archaic. Maybe the point is that a responsible government needs a little left and right, depending upon the day and the issue.. so fixating on any particular philosophy is not only dangerous tactically if you need to shift gears (did someone tell me that Michael Ignatieff supported the invasion of Iraq, coercive interrogation and indefinite incarceration for terrorist suspects?) but it is, perhaps also irresponsible.. (in fairness to Mr. I)

    Maybe we’re approaching a new era where dogma and ideology fades and we begin (gasp) voting for the person and who they are..

    Think about it. At a certain point, everyone was seeking to accomodate and appease Hitler. Imagine if politicians who initially felt negotiation and accomodation was a good plan – were not free to later go – uh.. bad idea.

    It would seem that both the Liberals and the PC Party are struggling with what they “stand for”. Maybe it’s best to admit you stand for nothing but doing the right thing. And then doing it. Wouldn’t that be something? But then, what would the real point be of having “parties”. Hmm… what would the point be.. indeed.

  44. Rob — Not sure where you were going with that appeasement tangent…

    When it comes to ideology, the Conservatives are long on talk and short on action. Moreover, what they do in practice almost always contradicts everything they espouse as principles and core beliefs.

    The Greens are indeed notable exceptions in this regard… they set out quite clearly what the party’s beliefs and principles are and back that up with detailed policy documents, etc. It’s all academic of course, but at least there’s not much question about the party’s stance on various issues.

    The NDP is also quite clear on its positions and priorities even if they bend and fold a lot of the time. Also another largely academic exercise.

    As for the Libs, they’re just MIA on this front altogether. They yelp and nip at Harper in the Commons, but at the end of the day they’re little more than an emasculated bunch of poodles that seem to have lost the plot completely.

  45. ..I’m on record, to the great displeasure of many conservatives regarding the alleged committment to an elected Senate (remember that?).. and I’m not sure there is a big void between not following up on what might be outdated philophy and having no philosophy at all.. in fact, the lack of philosophy is at least not, well, deceptive..

    .. but this still begs the question.. is the world becoming too complex for simple dogma, for set political philosophy? Are the days of “isms” past us? Are things like conservativism, liberalism, progressivism no longer helpful, or perhaps even damaging?

    I mean – really – they all adopt eachother’s policy where it makes sense anyway.

  46. Rob — The Senate issue is another debate and I’m “on record” as being strongly opposed to the populist debasement and crass “democratization” of that body for all sorts of reasons that have been enumerated here countless times in the past.

    As to the possible irrelevancy of “isms” and such in the face of the increasingly “complex” world we find ourselves in, perhaps so, although I’ve never been much of a subscriber to various dogmas or ideological puritanism of any sort, so it’s hard to say whether those are no longer serving a worthwhile purpose. I strongly suspect they were never really all that terribly helpful when push came to shove in the first place.

  47. I think the problem with Ted’s comments, quite simply, is that he asks that the executive (and PTAs, and the rest) be given the benefit of the doubt in the absence of concrete information.

    Lost in that is any reason as to why they should be given the benefit of the doubt. It was the executive machine that handed leadership to Iggy, it was the executive machine that pulled the rug out from under Rae, and it’s a pretty open secret that it was the executive machine that was fighting Dion after being defied by all those naughty little delegates in Montreal.

    (Which is probably why the delegates in Vancouver are little more than window dressing.)

    Considering how bereft of direction, or preparedness, or philosophy, or policy, or fundraising acumen the party as an organization is, why on earth should anybody treat them with anything but the highest suspicion?

  48. As for these ideas that “the world is too complex for political philosophy”… the political world is no more complex than it was at the time of Hobbes, the time of Paine, and certainly not the time of Machiavelli.

    Indeed, you can’t not have a political philosophy, any more than you can avoid having, say, a natural philosophy. The only question is whether you’re bright enough to think about it, instead of relying on a rickety ad-hoc apparatus that only cognitive dissonance could possibly hold up.

  49. Wait a sec

    James – how did you know there were 17 members present? I guess you were there also…

    😉

  50. Ted

    “but surely there have to be abiding principles and a thread of ideas providing some kind of continuity from past to present and… the future. That’s absent from the Liberal Party however and it worries me somewhat that too much stock is being put in the leader (a questionable figure who many still have difficulty accepting) and little thought being given to what the party stands for. Aside from not being Harper or any of the other alternatives, that is.”

    This too I don’t get. As a student of Canadian history and political/cultural history to boot, I actually believe that those threads are indeed there. And they rise above platforms and this policy or that. You look at King, St. Laurent, Pearson – a long break with Trudeau – and a return with Chretien, there are indeed a set of core and consistent principles. Not an ideology, but values that guide the party. Yet, it almost seems as though the party tries hard to disassociate itself from any notion of the sort. Ever since Trudeau, Liberals have striven for The Leader Who Will Guide Them and dump on the guy who loses.

    To be frank, I got interested in Ignatieff when, at the 2004 convention, he dared try to articulate that thread. It’s here. Knowing a little bit about how websites and communications “strategies” were viewed and, ahem, “developed” under Martn and Dion, I understand why policy and vision was so anemic. Knowing a little bit about the people around Iggy, I know they are working on it along with 3 million other priorities. But c’mon. How hard is it to just take one of the many speeches Iggy gives on Liberal vision or principles and just put that up there until the party gets around to actually drafting something?

  51. Ted

    Demosthenes said: “I think the problem with Ted’s comments, quite simply, is that he asks that the executive (and PTAs, and the rest) be given the benefit of the doubt in the absence of concrete information.”

    No. I am not giving anyone the benefit of the doubt. I am simply saying that we do not know. You are doing the opposite: assuming they did wrong because you don’t like Ignatieff. I grow increasingly supportive of Ignatieff and I will not give the executive the benefit of the doubt.

    I know and don’t really trust political operatives, especially full-time political operatives. They depend on fiefdoms of power even more than politicians trying to get elected for the 6th election in a row. They have a tendency to serve their own interests before others. Which is not to say that they don’t act in the interest of the party, just that the line is, shall we say, often blurred.

    But PTA’s are no less so than the members of the executive who have come along with MI.

    So rather than point a finger or jump up and down or give it a whitewash, I say: tell me what the resolution said so we can all assess.

    RT put it a finer point on it: it becomes not an issue of this particular policy or resolution or even the leader, but really an issue about how the party operates and the need for transparency.

  52. Ted — Yes, we can certainly take a speech from Ignatieff, snip parts out of it that we may find pleasing and adopt that as being what the Liberal Party now stands for, but if it’s that incredibly easy then why can’t Team Iggy do it? Oh yes, they’re working on “3 million other priorities”… Well cry me a river. We’re all very busy people…

    I’m not looking for “The Leader Who Will Guide Them” just one that can clearly articulate the reasons why he’s worth supporting. I’m not even looking for “the vision thing” (to quote the elder Bush), although that would be nice, but more just a sense of confidence that he isn’t a useless right-wing tool.

    So far however, I haven’t gotten that impression. Ignatieff rolled over on the budget (abandoning pay equity and workers’ rights), was virtually mute on the Gaza War, capitulated on accountability of the $3 billion part of the Conservatives’ stimulus money, has walked away from the idea of a carbon tax, voted for extension of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan, and so on…

  53. Ted

    I think the comment thread maybe has gone on too long when Red gets snippy with people who are agreeing with him on how there’s no excuse not to have something basic on policy or priorities or direction.

    I’m outta here.

    Cheers.

  54. My bad.

    I went back and re-read your comment and it seems that I misinterpreted it.

    Sorry about that.

  55. Well, damn. I was going to let Ted know that he should probably avoid posting the same talking points about “the party is clearly focused on aggressively competing in every region if not every riding” across multiple websites, because it makes him look like quite the little sock puppet.

    But he left.

  56. Rob H. wrote:

    “Are the days of “isms” past us?”

    I find that quite interesting because it seems they are all becoming somewhat melded, morphing into one another. Am going to think about this some more.

    RT wrote:

    “I’m not looking for “The Leader Who Will Guide Them” just one that can clearly articulate the reasons why he’s worth supporting.”

    And one that stays with those reasons & doesn’t change them to suit vote-getting of different “factions”. Yes, they can change if they are wrong or don’t fit a certain issue/situation but only if they are right for the people – not self or Party.

  57. Rob H.

    Demosthenes.. I’m not sure I agree that the world isn’t more complex.. but even if so, the way we see it is much more refined and less, well, brutish.

    See communism, or socialism.. these themes arose, and were spread through a largely oppressed and ignorant population and were, in many cases, locked onto as a new religion of the masses.. who found out, unfortunately, that the complexities of human nature (greed, dishonesty, power, sloth) broke it down into an unworkable mess in it’s pure form..

    More recently, we’re getting a great message on how the “religion of the right”, capitalism, for many of the same reasons, has also broken down in it’s pure form (greed, dishonesty, power, sloth)..

    So, maybe it is the world is more complex, or maybe, those whose resposibility it is to govern have evolved (yes, some conservatives believe in evolution) into more complex thinkers.. and maybe we need to evolve as an electorate to say, well, these visions, these “isms”, are for simple-minded fools.. practically, we need “a little of this and a little of that” and the necessary mix, like any chef understands, will be different today than it might be tomorrow.

  58. Ti-Guy

    I’m not sure I agree that the world isn’t more complex

    I do. The World is more technologically complicated, but if we understand complexity to be somewhat related to sophistication (meaning a type of understanding that acknowledges the unavoidable diversity that exists in real life), I would say the civilisation is barely more complex than it was at the dawn of recorded history. It’s just bigger.

    We’ve come pretty far in at least understanding the dead-end that is violence in conflict resolution, but that’s only come at the height mankind’s ability to be self-destructive.

    In any case, what’s necessary now in dealing with complexity is the necessity of making better judgements about what are common substantive issues (like poverty, crime, widespread public ignorance, social injustice, environmental degradation, cultural decay and the dead-ends of unrestrained materialism and pointless consumerism , etc. etc.) and what are trivial issues related to a particular person’s individualism, which no one else should have to waste two minutes of time thinking about.

  59. Ken Summers

    Basic question about the PTAs.

    Their autonomy lies a good deal in their ability to allocate resources to different riding campaigns.

    Since they cannot issue tax receipts and directly receive contributions, where does the Liberal Party of Canada in Quebec or Manitoba get its funds? Who / what / how decides how much they get?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s