Monday, March 27, 2006

Do Liberals Need "Vision"?

Ottawa Citizen's Susan Riley argues against the Liberals need for vision:
Contrary to received wisdom, the Liberal party does not need to re-invent itself, return to first principles, or articulate a clear vision. Visions are for saints, mystics and senior managers who, these days, are required to waste countless potentially productive hours drafting “mission” statements — bland expressions of good will and noble intent that are widely circulated and utterly ignored.

The Liberal party doesn’t need a “mission” statement, either. It needs to defeat the Harper Conservatives before they inflict serious damage on the economy, the nation’s social fabric, international reputation or domestic unity

I agree, the Liberals need to defeat Harper before his leaves a lasting impression. The trouble with Riley's logic is she rails against introspection, but doesn't provide an alternative. In fact, Riley actually provides the argument that makes re-inventing essential:
What Liberals must realize is that Harper is no more likely to defeat himself than he was willing to collude in his own failure in the last election. Waiting for him to self-destruct can no longer be the Liberals’ main strategy.

You have two options in a campaign, provide a clear platform or run against your opponent. Riley acknowledges that it is folly to fashion a policy that relies on Harper self-destructing. That leaves a positive platform, which necessitates a vision.

Tom Axworthy's slam on past Liberal policies is a great first salvo in the transformation. Who is kidding who, if it weren't for latent apprehension about Harper, the Liberals would have faced Kim Campbell like failure. The fact there are many Liberals left standings is irrelevant in calculating the gravity of the situation. You could argue that complete electoral annihilation would have been an even better scenario. Then, we wouldn't have the added "mending fences" angle, the entire Liberal bureaucracy would have been turfed and a new era easily attained.

The Liberals need vision in spades. Right now if someone asked, what does the Liberal Party stand for, I doubt you could give an easy answer. Could you say the same about the NDP or the Conservatives? That says it all, Riley is dead wrong.

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