Sunday, February 24, 2013

And my #LPCLdr Endorsement Is...

This will be something of a rambling post, just so you’re forewarned – but I’ll try to keep it short.

Ha, just kidding, its long as hell. But its important, so pay attention.

When I joined the Liberal Party of Canada during the early start of the 2008 election, my very first job as a volunteer for Paddy Torsney’s campaign was to sit in the back and build the lawn signs while I waited for Paddy to make a speech to the campaign workers. I sat there in the back, alone and kind of cold, for an hour and a half.

From that wonderful start, I’ve continued my support for the Liberals throughout its many travails, including the 2008/2009 coalition disaster, Ignatieff’s leadership, the 2011 election, and our doldrums position in third place throughout most of the country. I even took on the job of a Young Liberal President, which taught me to not necessarily be a fan of party bureaucracy - and that I couldn’t run an organization very well.

Anyways, suffice to say, I’ve been with this party through thick and thin, and there’s been a lot of the former in my time. The past five years – heck, the last dozen years - have not been kind to our party, with with over 3-million Canadians having abandoned it for what they see as better options in the Conservatives, New Democrats, and even the Greens, since 2000, the last election to feature an increase in our support from a previous election.

I’ve said many times on this blog that reform was needed, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. The Liberal Party has declined as a force in Canadian politics not just because of the Machiavellian strategies of Stephen Harper, but because of our own failings as a party. We've failed to relate to Canadians, we've failed to create viable and exciting party platforms, and failed at organizing ourselves at the polls, or for fundraising. Even if we were successful at casting down the Conservatives into the pit from whence they came, these issues remain our biggest liabilities. It has never been enough to simply be the anti-Harper, and it certainly isn’t enough now that the NDP can better claim that role. The Liberals need to offer up something different to Canadians, something that neither of the two polarized parties can offer.

In my mind, we need to become a party of reform, instead of a party of government. Let the other two guys aspire to be the “natural governing party” – Liberals will opt instead to become the party of Canadian society’s natural progress.

Yeah I know, what a cliche, etc., but hear me out. The Liberals need to show that we’re willing to recognize when Canadians are looking for change like we have in the past, and that we're also willing to challenge the status quo when we know its right. We’re a cautious, even "conservative" people, and sometimes we need a bit of a push to get the ball rolling. We need those willing to propose the reform we all know we need. Look at the amount of progress we’ve made in our society since the 1950’s, and remind yourself of how often the Liberals were in power since then. That isn't a coincidence - Canadians realized which party was the one offering the best chance for change.

We've somehow lost that image, lost that shiny veneer that signalled to Canadians we were with them on the issues of the day and were willing to make the tough decisions if need be to move our society forward. Instead, our image has become that of  the old guard - corrupted, divided, elitist, and ineffectual. Irrelevant. And its not just Conservative spin, folks. There is an element of truth in every descriptor.

So how do we change this? The best opportunity to do so has presented itself with this upcoming leadership election, which is what this post was supposed to be about before I got into my monologue there. While I’m not saying we can change everything around in just one shot, we can start the true process of renewal within the Liberal Party by electing a leader who has so far showed themselves sympathetic to reform. Someone who has proposed policy that suggests change that we, that being all Canadians, not just Liberals, need. A person with a resume so overwhelming that you have no doubt about their ability to get things done, because they’ve done it all.

Thus, my choice for the next Liberal Leader is Marc Garneau.

Yes, I typed a lot of words just to get to that simple sentence – though I did so with a purpose. I’m just a lowly occasional campaign worker in an unheld riding, a partisan that wants to see the party succeed and has my own ideas about how it could, but I’m no a big wig and have little influence over the direction we take. Basically, I am among the vast majority of Liberal Party members and supporters. The 99% of the Liberal Party, if you will – though I despise that term, because I’m not opposed to the party elite, but I do want to see some action up among the higher-ups. I haven’t lately. None of us have.

But, with my one vote (and my mighty blog) I can help choose the next leader of the Party, and I want to use that vote to choose the person I think best reflects my view of where this party should be going – and that’s Marc. I like what Marc has had to say so far, whether on (the an admittedly dry topic of) telecom markets, or on (the more pertinent issue to me) student assistance, or on an issue that has become very important to me these days, democratic reform. They’re not necessarily big, all-encompassing issues, but they’re ones can affect us in a big way – and he’s got something to say about them. The direction he wants us to lead us towards is that of an active, reform-minded party that takes into account the concerns of Canadian and moves to offer up a solution for it. That's the Liberal Party I know and love, and I want to see it realized.

I like Marc’s message, I like his ideas, and I like what he has to offer the Party and Canadians. Plus, the man is a bonafide hero, and one of my proudest possessions is a framed signature of Canada’s first astronaut.

That is the basic gist of why I’m supporting Marc Garneau. I hope my reasoning is clear enough, given how many words I’ve put into this post. I want change, and Marc is not only offering it, but he's one of the few people that has the experience to do it. Let no one downplay the fact that this man is more accomplished than any other politician in this country. I want to see that kind of success brought to the Liberal leadership.

If you’re of the same mindset, I invite you to go on right now and sign up as a volunteer and supporter. I suspect the campaign will need everyone they can get their hands on.

…but, I hear you say, all the other candidates are offering the same things more or less. Why, amazing blog author, are you not swayed by their platforms? Also, why do you hate Justin Trudeau?

Let me make clear that this is not an anti-Justin vote, even though Marc is laying on the criticism quite a bit lately (not all of it unwarranted). I like Justin, I like all of the candidates to certain degrees. If Justin wins – and let me be honest, I have no reason to doubt he won’t at this point – I’ll be one of the first in line to carry his banner into the next general election. He’s not really a lightweight, and if he’s leader he’ll be an awesome one.

But this is a leadership selection, and I’ve weighed my options. Do I go for the guy I agree with the most, or the guy who I agree with and will probably win anyways? It could go with the more cynical option, but I want to be honest with myself. Marc’s got the goods, and I want to show my support for his ideas and candidacy. Even if he loses, giving Trudeau and the other candidates a run for their money will show people how serious Marc and his supporters are.

Besides, if I can get others to support Marc, we can get him into a winning position. I’m not ruling it out, and its what I want to see happen – hence, I’ll be working towards it.


  1. Good post. You are right about the need for genuine change. I think the seeds are in place already, with the opening up of the party with the supporter category. I think it would be a good idea to open up policy formulation as well. That way, the Leader would be selected based upon Leadership qualities, not as a proxy for policy ideas, because with direct input on policy formulation, we would not need a proxy in the form of a l;eadership candidate

    1. I agree with you in most part, though I do think we need to put some power of policy in the hands of elected leadership, rather than solely in the hands of party members at large - I find that kind of system of policy proposal would be too unwieldy for a national party to take on.

      But before we even think about that, we need to realize that we don't have a party that usually takes the time to listen to the policy proposed by the membership as it is. I mean, everyone lauds the Supporters category these days, and we voted it into place - but this Executive has not necessarily done all they can to promote it. Much of it has been up to the leadership candidates, and I don't think this is what most people envisioned "Supporters" would become. We want to build long-term relationships with these people, and incorporate their status into the Liberal Party - instead its another tool for leadership candidates to corral votes.

      I could go on about this. My point, however, is that we'll need to take the first step towards a renewed party organization, including open policy creation. Right now we're nowhere close, and that needs to change. Luckily though, I think Marc will set us on the right path - hence my support!

  2. Yet again you chose someone who is my #3 :P

    1. Who are your numbers 1 and 2?

    2. Findlay and Trudeau, though, Findlay has also been unimpressive, and may drop to 3rd. I'm not super-excited about Trudeau either, but right now, I can't see how anyone else could do better than he could.

    3. The key reason I left the NDP was the attitude among some within the party that you had to "hold true" to your "ideals" and that "winning" was secondary. This is the mindset that means you never even get the chance to change the country. Winning is primary. Once we are in office, we can change things. I thus am predicating my entire ballot on who I think can win.

      Not JUST win mind you. Long-term our hopes are out west. If we want to remain competitive we need to stop fighting with the NDP in Toronto, and Montreal, and start fighting with the Conservatives in Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary. Calgary is the big prize of these, and thus, my ballot will be ranked, first to last, based on who I think can win us a half dozen ridings in Calgary.

      Garneau was my #1 for quite a while, but I've not really seen much out of him. Findlay does attract headlines, but possibly for negative reasons. Trudeau thus defaults to the top slot.

      If Garneau or Findlay can show me they have what it takes to win Calgary, they can get my support. This also applies to any of the 'others' in the race.

    4. Thats fair Teddy, and I agree for the most part. I do think the attitude of the leadership is important - if we don't have "ideals" we hold somewhat to, then we're not going to have a cohesive force to keep together when we're inevitably in opposition. Its well and fine to win, but you will not win every time. Thus, you need to have something that keeps the group together, other than the possibility of winning again.

      But you're right, we do need someone who can win. Trudeau's polling numbers show that he can win, the question is whether or not to trust the polls. I'm ambivalent. I believe that whoever the next Liberal leader is, we'll have a honeymoon period and then drop back down. Trudeau's hypothetical popularity is not something I believe will hold, unless he proves himself deserving of that support. He very well may, but for this leadership race I'm going to take the opportunity to select a leader that I think can prove himself deserving of support, and will also represent my views of where the party should lead. I don't want to get bogged down in the "whoever is more hypothetically popular among Canadians" idea - I want to support someone who I think will build that support as we chug along.

    5. I want to be sure the person building that support sees eye to eye with me that we need to grow in the West, and not waste our resources trying to gain back 74 seats in Quebec.