Saturday, May 21, 2011

Liberal Leadership for Dummies

I am finding it fascinating to go through some of our Party's history.

How about some information about the length of some of the previous Liberal Leadership races?

•Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King announces his retirement on January 20, 1948 -- Liberal Leadership Convention takes place August 7, 1948 (less than 8 months)

•Prime Minister St. Laurent announces his retirement on September 5, 1957 -- Liberal Leadership Convention takes place January 16, 1958 (a little more than 4 months)

•Prime Minister Lester Pearson announced on December 14, 1967 -- Liberal Leadership Convention takes place April 6, 1968. (less than 4 months later (including Christmas Holidays))

•Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau announces his retirement February 29, 1984 -- Liberal Leadership Convention takes place June 16, 1984 (about 3.5 months)

•John Turner announces his retirement May 1989 -- Liberal Leadership Convention takes place June 23, 1990 (about one year)

•Jean Chretien announces his retirement October 2002 -- Liberal Leadership Convention takes place November 14, 2003 (a really long time!!!! So long, that we changed the constitution to prevent it from happening again!!!)

•Paul Martin announces his retirement March, 2006 -- Liberal Leadership Convention takes place December 2–3, 2006 (8-9 months)

•2009, Stephane Dion resigns -- Well we all know what happened after that. We still haven't had a leadership

A couple of other things:

When Lester Pearson ran during the 4 month, Leadership Campaign in 1958, there were :

•no (useful) computers
•no internet
•no Facebook, Twitter or text messaging
•no teleconferences
•no cell phones
•no tele-townhalls
•no live TV debates
•no live voice broadcasts
•largely propeller commercial airplane travel
•limited nation-wide television

So my questions are:

1.With all of the new advances in communication and travel, why have our leadership races gotten longer, instead of shorter?

2.With the changes in leadership finance legislation, why have leadership races gotten longer and not shorter?

3.With the obvious decline in the Liberal donor pool, why have leadership races gotten longer and not shorter?

4.With the need to focus on rebuilding the Party, why are we planning a longer leadership race and not a shorter one?

5.With Liberals already fractured and ready to split to other parties or out of politics entirely, why are we looking to have a longer and potentially further divisive leadership race and not a shorter race where candidates have less time to build up resentment and entrenched factions?

6.With the Constitution clearly requiring a convention no later than December 17th, why are we looking at potentially a Fall 2012 or spring 2013 leadership convention?

So tell me again why we need 12-24 months to have this leadership race?


Anonymous said...

I take many of your points. There are elements I agree with, but

You didn't have to play with dates to make your points. Everyone knew Turner was going to resign the night of Nov. 21,1988 when Mulroney won another majority. So that race that Chretien won was in fact 19 months. If you want to deny that then you are basically agreeing with those that this say this next leadership race won't start until it's officially called some time in 2012(if the constitutional amendment passes). Same goes for Martin, he annoucned he was stepping on Jan. 24, 2006, it doesn't matter that he official resigned in March. So that race was 11.5 months. The upcoming race stands to be about equivalent to the one that elected Chretien leader. Yes it was very divisive, but don't there's no need to pretend it was a shorter race than it really was de facto.

There are also some that legitimately fear if we get a leader installed quickly that new leader will have the power to stifle renewal (or at least control most aspects of it) and will expect two elections no matter what happens. You have to admit that this is at least a possibility. And a 4.5 month race is still going to be damn divisive. Arguably more so as lesser candidates see their only chance of winning is through a bomb the bridges strategy. A longer race might promote more civility and debates about real issues. We had zero debates in the last leadership race. I'd like as many as possible this time.

Anyways enough of that. I'm sure I'll be lambasted for saying all this but just a difference of opinion that's all.

I happen to think the amendments will fail (because the people that favour a 12 month race are going to vote against now), but I can at least see positive arguments for voting in favour and think people should at least know that we did at least have one leadership race this long and almost all the others Liberals were in goverment so it's pretty much required to have a quicker race to remove a lame duck PM.

James Curran said...

There's a smart ass in every crowd. The clause involving the announcement rather than the actual vacancy was put in the constitution AFTER Martin's resignation. Ohter than that you're right by half.

Craig Chamberlain said...

Thanks for this post!!!

Part of the historical background is a public that read newspapers.

Point #5 stands to be the kill shot for the party -- IMHO.

Anyong said...

This happens because there is more time to run up a huge expense account?