Friday, October 14, 2011

We've Actually Got a Pulse, Folks

Several different authors, some with credibility, some with little, have come out recently with op-eds on how the Liberal Party of Canada is essentially nailed in its coffin.

It's fair that they can claim this all they want. I don't mind it - it's something that needs to be said. The idea that the Liberals are flailing about like a fish out of water is something that needs to be explored, exploited, and studied for future reference.

But let's make one thing clear: the Liberals still have a pulse, which means the proclomations of our death are extremely premature.

Let's look at the facts: we still have 34 caucus members, a healthy amount for a third party in Canada that's not regionally based (a la Bloc), with roughly 15-20% of the population supporting us. Not only that, but despite our weakened organization, we still have successful membership drives and decent if not fantastic fundraising numbers for the size of our party.

We're a group willing to expand and willing to work if we get the right group of people in control to allow us to do that. And really, for all people say about the current crop of members in the National Executive and the riding associations and so on, they honestly are not that bad. The Executive has shown its willingness to be flexible on renewal in the past, and even if they aren't always, they usually have a reason. I know, I know - they're just corrupt a-holes who like their comfy positions. But I don't necessarily buy the argument that a "revolution" is what is needed for the Liberal Party. The "throw all the buggers out" mentality is rarely useful. These people can still be useful.

Our riding associations have a special role to play in renewal, and I'll say that here in Burlington riding, our association is willing to do the work. We don't always get what we want, and yes, sometimes the Executive are assholes and they make silly mistakes. Other times, they're awesome. It's a mixed bag, but our riding associations are supposed to be there to keep it all in check. And I'll tell you right now, there is no riding associaton like a Liberal riding association in terms of passion and commitment to a cause, especially for renewal.

What people need to realize, be they pundits, politicians, or the average citizen/voter, is that the Liberal Party does have something to build off of. We're not running on stilts here. Yes, the organization needs to be rebuilt; yes, the people need to be changed (after we squeeze every ounce of usefulness out of them); yes, our polling is crap and we're facing a titanic struggle that centrist parties around the world have failed to win. But for fuck's sake people, we're not dead - we're just in a rut. We won't be dead until we allow ourselves to believe we are.

The way I see it is simple: we need to accept where we are, and not wait for the messiah, not wait for a lucky break, and not wait for the NDP or Conservatives to just crumble (and they will, eventually). If the Liberals are in a third-party position, you know what?, I'm OK with that - we'll work to be the best third-party option there is, and let Canadians look at what we can do now, in this most dire of situations, and give them the opportunity to make the leap from there. The exact thing Jack did for the NDP.

And let's look at Jack, or Gordon Campbell, or Jean Charest, or Danny Williams, or Dalton - successful leaders who defied odds consistently. But who can say that any of them are "radical" leaders?

The fact is, we don't need a radical leader to fix what's wrong with the Party. We just need someone willing to actually lead the Party, someone willing to work to build it up, make the best out of what successes we can acheive in time, and learn from the mistakes of the past. Hell, we need a leader willing to learn on the job! Not someone who wants to redefine the whole thing.

So, let's get it straight one more time: the Liberals are not dead. We're struggling, but we're not dead. We have a base. We have opportunities. We have abilities. We have passion. We even have hope, if you can believe it. All renewal requires is the acknowledgement of those facts, and someone willing to build off of it. It doesn't mean we need to rush. It doesn't mean we need to revolutionize. It just means we need to commit to it all.

And when you've got commitment, you've definitely got a pulse.


  1. And we need many more members of the LPC! If you take the NDP 87,000 signed up members, then that's an average of under 300 for the 308 ridings.

    My riding association has around 400 members; Bob Rae is demanding that we move heaven and earth to double that to 800 within four months, and is asking all ridings to do that.

    I wonder what the LPC average per riding is? More members means more energy; more energy means more ideas; more ideas means more funding; more funding means better permanent campaigning.

  2. CC,

    Well, considering my riding has maybe 200 members last time I checked, and I would think the average riding association probably has between 100 to 200 outside of the GTA. Within the GTA its likely upwards of 300.

    So with that, I'd day there's about 25K to 55K outside of the GTA, and 15K to 30K within it, for a total of 40K to 85K members, probably on the higher end of that as well. Which would make sense given our donation base is about 30K-40K.

    I say we shoot for 150K overall. You're right in saying that more members = more energy, more commitment, and permanent campaigning. That's the right course, but it is so much harder than it sounds.

  3. As a former Liberal Party member who is watching and waiting for something interesting to happen, I can only say where is the plan?
    Double the membership if you like but it is not a plan.
    Raise as much money as you like but that is not a plan.
    The liberals currently hold 4 of the 95 seats west of Ontario. That means that 72% of the remaining 213 seats would have to be won for a majority.
    Look at the numbers west of Ontario and tell me the how to increase the percentage of popular vote by about 30%. I lived in Alberta for 5 years as a Liberal party member and I don’t think it is possible to win a seat in that province. They still talk about the NEP.
    Where is the plan for the west? Put a white hat on for stampede if you like but that won’t win a single seat. Give me a plan to win the west and rural Ontario and I’ll renew my membership tomorrow and write a check for $1100.

    Until then I'm taking a hard look at the NDP just so that I don't have to live with 40 years of Conservative governments

  4. Great post, and I agree completely with you. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the Bob Rae Liberal caucus has come out of the gates swinging. They're offering the only opposition in Parliament right now, and for the first time ever have put Harper on the defensive.

    The Party is attracting new members and there is a lot of public discussion about it right now.

    Doesn't sound like a dying person to me!