Saturday, January 28, 2006

Elitism Hurts Liberals

The Globe and Mail has an interesting story on the dysfunctional Liberal campaign. I have always felt that one of the main problems with the current configuration of the Liberal Party is its top-down approach, at the expense of the grassroots. The events on election night highlight the disconnect between "regular" Canadians and the elitist party apparatus:
Only a handful of Mr. Martin's most senior people there knew what their boss was about to announce. And when it came, there was disbelief, some tears in the crowd, and also anger among some senior Martin "non-board" people, who had not been given any advance warning.

The Liberal worker said such exclusionary tactics were typical of the way the campaign was run behind the scenes.

"It was all about them [the board]," the Liberal worker said. "It's not supposed to be about them. It's supposed to be about the party, and it's supposed to be about the volunteers and most of all about our leader."

As the campaign went sour, so did the view among Liberals about the effectiveness of the board members and their unwillingness, despite reducing the Liberal government to a minority in 2004, to give people from outside their circle a role in the campaign.

On election night in Montreal, the board members who were with Mr. Martin, according to sources, drew up a list of people with whom they would watch the returns, leaving out some of those who also had been travelling on the campaign plane for two months.

And two days later, the relationship was so bad that at a postelection party at a local Ottawa pub, one organizer said that he saw Liberal staffers and workers quietly pick up their coats and leave when members of the board arrived.

Obviously, leaders need a tight inner circle to run a campaign and decide on strategy. But, what has become apparent is the Liberal Party is a dysfunctional organization, wherein there is no symmetry or commonality. Clearly, the manner in which this campaign was run serves as another example of a Party who had become elitist, unresponsive and unable to reflect Canadians interests.

This leadership debate should serve as a golden opportunity to open up the Party power structure and become inclusive. If well connected Liberals insist on playing "kingmakers" and usurp the spirit of equality within democracy, then their time in the political wilderness will be prolonged. I hope the Liberal Party recognizes this window for reform and seizes the moment to project a new image that more closely resembles the average Canadian.


jj said...

Democracy, eh? We can be such a bunch of bloody hypocrites. Maybe we should dump the queen so that any notion of governing hierarchy is eliminated.

Let's see if power affects the Conservatives the same way...

Steve V said...


"Let's see if power affects the Conservatives the same way... "

There does seem to be an inverse relationship between time spent governing and a connection to the grassroots.