Friday, March 26, 2010

Liberal Thinkers? What's Wrong with Liberal Thinkers?

Many have written about the exclusion of Liberal Parliamentarians and Senators (although I'm sure David Smith will be in attendance) at the Canada150 Conference. It may or may not be a bad idea to keep them home (read Dan McTeague into that one). I don't know for sure. But, having said all that, each of those elected MPs should at least have some onus put on them to attend their local gathering of Liberals to the conference...or, at the very least, help organize a local gathering.

But, I digress...

Since the coronation of the new "next Trudeau" - Let's call him Michael - the Liberal Party has engaged the grassroots, which I like to refer to as the true core of the party in a series of bold initiatives. There was the immediate call for a "Change Commission". Along side that came the "Renewal Commission". Hand in hand with these two grassroots-engaging commissions came the very bold and innovative "En Famille", a site designed to stimulate internal Liberal ideas and minimize public discrepancies. Bearing in mind that we just had "The Red Ribbon Task Force" 18 months prior to these new initiatives.

The real icing on the cake though was the coronation - er, Biennial convention - in Vancouver. A POLICY CONVENTION!!! That is to say that we Liberals assembled to put forward OUR OWN BOLD IDEAS in a format that had to be accepted or rejected by the voting members and grassroots Liberals in attendance. These BOLD ideas came from all points across this great country of ours. Coast to coast to coast. Many of them were passed in resolutions. Many were rejected. But, all of them were heard and debated.

That's right. Liberals were hearing other Liberals.

To my point? We have great thinkers right here in the Liberal party, but our party leadership has chosen to ignore them. As for the MPs? I would think that Ken Dryden's knowledge of universal daycare might be a BOLD idea. Stephane Dion and David McGuinty's knowledge of the environment and Kyoto might contribute to a BOLD idea. And, whatever happened to Kelowna for Godsake? I would think that a John McCallum might have an idea or two about fiscal responsibility along with the likes of former finance minister Ralph Goodale.

Come to think of it McCallum, may know a thing or to about defense and foreign policy as well. Perhaps teaming him up with a Bob Rae and a Ujjal Dosanjh could have brought out some BOLD foreign policy ideas.

Anywho, here's my bold idea. Let's listen to what our own members of our party are saying for a change. You know, the members that spend countless hundreds of hours forming policy at the local levels to bring them to the provincial levels to bring them to a national convention to have them passed then ignored. You know? Those member?

Say what you want about Paul Martin Jr. or Stephane Dion, but when they became leaders of this Liberal Party, they both had ideas and an idea where their platform was going. Martin with the three K's - Kelowna, Kids and Kyoto. Dion with his three pillars, social justice, economic prosperity, and environmental sustainability (clearly a man ahead of his time). Michael? I have his little red book from September, 2006 still. Perhaps he'd like to read it.

What do I know.

ONTARIO! Ours to Recover


The Mound of Sound said...

Jim, when I reviewed the list of speakers at Canada150 I was surprised to see the conference dominated by management consultants, political mandarins, CEO's, economists, bankers and academics. With the exception of Lloyd Axworthy and Sheila Watt-Cloutier, the great majority of these speakers would be ideal from a management perspective.

Perhaps MI perceives his dilemma as a management problem. It's not, it's a leadership failure that's his problem. The man needs vision, something that will resonate with the uncommitted voter and Liberal alike. The speakers chosen for this seminar seem about as removed as possible from the great unwashed of the electorate, the plebs like me that MI needs to reach.

What is the point of dissecting what Canada will look like just seven years (roughly two electoral cycles) from now when we ought and need to be focusing on what Canada will face in 2067? Those are the issues of importance that ought to be defining Liberal policies of today.

Our country and our people and our kids will pay dearly for it if we cannot break free of the blinders that limit our focus to the next electoral cycle.

Daniel said...

A decade from now I hope that people will remember Paul Martin for his new deal for cities.

As time goes by I expect that deal will have had a bigger impact on our day to day lives thatn anything else the federal government has done in decades.

Of course the new deal for cities doesn't really have a tangible symbol that can be pointed to so it probably won't be something he is remembered for.

The Mound of Sound said...

Like Daniel I think Martin was the most under-appreciated Liberal leader, certainly in my lifetime. The Kelowna Accords, the R2P initiative and the critical care healthcare reform proposal all reflected real leadership and vision. It was too bad he was cut down by a scandal that belonged to the Chretien era. Martin didn't deserve that, JC did.

Eugene Forsey Liberal said...

Hallelujah, Curran. I was wondering when someone might make the point about all the resolutions and policy planks that have been passed at conventions, after lengthy arduous efforts by actual members, in their own ridings and then regionally, provincially, nationally, and finally at the conventions, and the lack of respect these efforts and resolutions get. Here's a question, as an ordinary party member, what are one's possibilities to affect public policy in Canada? Why bother putting any effort into policy when whatever you and your supporters do, your efforts will be ignored. We don't even have democratic conventions to choose leaders anymore. So how does one entice outsiders to become party members: what exciting idealistic possibilities do we offer? Remember the horror in Vancouver that even under the most controlled conditions, the membership persisted in its determination to pass a resolution in favour of putting a price on carbon, incl. possibly a carbon tax, despite being told we shouldn't, that was dead and buried, just look at the election results, etc.etc.?

Again, well said Curran, this is a post that needed to be written.

Oemissions said...

I reminded Ignatieff thru his facebook page about En Famille.
People put tons of effort into it.
I never saw the big guys on there but every thing was dealt with, discussed and voted on as preferred policy.
I have followed can150 this weekend... the whole conference.
I tried a few times to remind people about En Famille thru' the chat box.
I was always censored. Even at the closing speech, Iggy gave no acknowledgement to En Famille or to the role model prior to all this: the Obama campaign.
Interesting to have seen that last summer, the NDP convention in NS invited 2 key Obama campaigners to share their methodology. It may still be available to see at the NDP website.

James Curran said...

So much for that democracy thing Michael was trumpeting. Oy.