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 MarcGarneau.ca 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.