Where to begin?
For all the 3000-3500 individuals who attended this biennial convention, you really don't need much in the way of a re-telling of what happened, what we accomplished, what we lost, and how important it is. And for the 30,000-some-odd people who watched online, and the many more who watched it through CPAC, CBC, are reading it in today's and tomorrow's columns, you also don't need to really know what's happen. It's all out there, and I invite you all to judge for yourselves what we did in Ottawa.
But for a second, let me give my view. I went to the convention with two major goals in mind: get the supporters amendment passed (including the staggered vote amendment), and support the person who I thought could lead this party as its next president.
Fulfilled And Thwarted Ambitions
Starting with the presidential race, we all know by now that former LPC(O) head Mike Crawley won by a narrow margin over Sheila Copps. I half-endorsed Crawley awhile back, on the basis that his platform was absolutely astounding. However, I didn't end up voting for him; instead, I support Ron Hartling, who we have to assume came in third, though we don't know how far back. I'm still convinced that we need a "Ron Hartling Revolution," and I only regret not getting involved in his campaign earlier.
Why did I not support Crawley? The simple fact is that he has already been in a position of power - and he didn't do very well. I know some will disagree, but the fact is that the evidence of our decline, of his management of that decline, is out there, for everyone to see. On that basis I couldn't support him.
But as I said before, he has a good platform. And we have to give him the benefit of the doubt. But we must keep him accountable. And furthermore, we must ensure all the presidential candidates - especially Ron Hartling - stay involved to provide balanced, nuanced leadership. This party is based on co-operation and collaboration, not unilateral decision making.
Speaking of, the other positions up for grabs this convention - the National Membership Chair, National Policy Chair, VPs for Francophone and Anglophone, and so on - I'm glad to say went very well for me. I'm glad to see Matt Certosimo, Chris MacInnes, and Imran Ahmad (though I didn't vote for him) all win their respective races.
I was not, however, pleased to see Zach Paikin lose to Maryanne Kampouris in the race for Policy Chair. We had a great opportunity to elect someone young and new to this party's executive, and goes to show that the old line still holds strong in this Party. But, c'est la vie. Next time Zach, next time.
Supporters, Primaries, and Pot
I'll try not to go too far into this, but thank God we passed the supporters amendment, and with a very healthy majority.
However, two key things did not get passed - supporters cannot vote in candidate nominations, and we are not doing what is called "staged" or staggered voting - and those things I think reflect the cautious streak of the party.
Nevermind the fact that both passed with majorities - they didn't reach the 66.6% threshold needed. But after some vicious attacks against the initial ideas of supporters, then against letting them vote in leadership races, those amendments passed. But I believe people wanted to both have protection in their local ridings, and not change to the supposedly "American" primary system because of various reasons which I had to argue against, including that it's not just Canadian enough (lol).
However, other major steps forward passed include a policy resolution on preferential ballot; a "recommendation" to the incoming Board of Directors and the Leader to allow open nominations including against incumbents; and of course, marijuana legalization, which Bob Rae seemingly endorsed during the convention closing speech.
Overall, the main move towards progress was passed - we now have supporters. And with other amazing ideas, I believe we've proven that we're being bold, exactly what we needed to do. We didn't get everything, but we damn well got a lot more than you'd expect from the supposedly demolished Liberal Party.
And in case he ever reads this, I want to say that without Alf Apps, this wouldn't have been possible. We all have our qualms with him, but after May he buckled down with the rest of the executive and got to work, producing that fantastic Roadmap - most of which passed - and bringing forward substantive, meaningful change to the Party. I salute you, Alf - we need more people like you around.
The Future is Bright
I believe that this convention proves one simple fact: Liberals are refusing to go down without a fight. I'm not going to say that this will solve all our problems, or that it'll even succeed, but I am glad to see we've at least taken the risk.
The tides of opportunity were high at this convention, as they have been for so many others. But this time, instead of standing and just letting the water lap at our feet as the opportunity ebbed away, we took the full plunge into the water and we did something. I haven't been a Liberal for long, but I've been one long enough to know that this doesn't happen often. I think we've done something important, and now it just requires action to follow our words.
This is why in my own riding of Burlington, with my executive and my friends, I'm going to ensure that this supporters amendment doesn't go to waste. I plan on thinking up fantastic, creative, and new ways to spread our message to this whole new world we've opened for ourselves. I implore every single Liberal to do the same, not just at a later date when the LPC finalized the logistics, but now. Start getting names, start brainstorming ideas, and start kicking this Party into gear. Don't let what we did at this convention go to waste, or else the tide is simply going to go out again, and the Liberals will another decade in the wilderness.