Renewing the Party

I went on a much needed vacation after the election and now I’m back I thought I would post my thoughts on what I think the Liberal party needs to look at as a part of its renewal process. Just in case you wanted to read yet another opinion on the subject.

I’m going to get the issue of leadership out of the way first, since that’s been a bit of a hot topic lately. I’m in firm agreement with all of those who have said that the leadership should be pushed back because it is more important that we decide what the party stands for first. Personally I’d like to see the leadership vote take place sometime between June and November of 2012, preferably towards the beginning of that time period. I think if we wait any longer then that we will make the leadership selection process too long and prolong internal bickering which can only hurt the party. I also want to see the membership get to set the date for the leadership convention, because if it’s left up to the executive then the biannual convention will end up being focused on leadership as every candidate will trying to get a favourable executive elected. On the issue of the interim leader, I was pleased to see that whoever is interim leader is not going to be allowed to run for the leadership. I disagreed back when Ignatieff was allowed to do that, so I’m pleased to see that it has been changed this time around.

The issue that the party really need to talk about before getting all hung up on leadership per usual, is what do we stand for. In my opinion the party hasn’t had a clear vision of what we stand for in a long time, going back to the last couple of years we were in government. The public votes on issues, and the Liberals simply being “not Harper” wasn’t going to attract votes because the public largely didn’t share our dislike of Harper. The public also doesn’t share our penchant for nostalgia, so dragging out former PM’s to try to give us a boost doesn’t create an enticing reason to vote for us. Once we’ve decided what we stand for we can re-build the Liberal brand around those issues. Until we have a solid idea of what we stand for we aren’t going to be able to convince voters to return us as the official opposition, let alone as the government.

Most importantly the grassroots of the party need to be front and centre as a part of the rebuilding process. For too many years very little attention has been paid to what the grassroots of the party wanted. Now we find ourselves in a situation where Liberal members are more likely to find out what is going on in the party through the media instead of by communication from the executive to the grassroots. The reform of the party should be driven by the grassroots as much as possible, with the party executive and caucus spending most of their time listening to ideas instead of trying to impose their own ideas on the party. As long as the grassroots continue to feel as if the party is ignoring them people are going to leave the Liberal party and not come back and the rebuilding process will amount to nothing.