Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Leadership Fundraising Rules All Wrong

One thing is clear, the story isn't about Dion, Ignatieff, Kennedy, etc, still having outstanding leadership debts, it's that the current system doesn't work. Conservatives can smile with glee, at the prospects of former candidates needing extensions, to pay off their loans, but that partisan nonsense misses the point.

I don't want Stephane Dion, or any other MP, forced to tour the country ad nauseum, looking for handouts. I'm actually pleased that Dion has largely ignored his debt, and instead focused on his duties as leader of the party, and the opposition. While the optics might not be positive, allowing for childish gamesmanship, seems to me the country demands more of their elected officials, than having them consumed with fundraising. Would Dion's constituents be fairly treated, if they knew that his focus wasn't on issues that matter to them?

This new system was clearly put in place to handicap the Liberals, Conservatives don't even overtly deny that. On one hand, there is some rationale in taking the "fat cats" out of the equation, but the cost of a credible campaign for the leadership of a large country requires a large expenditure, an amount that isn't easily raised, no matter the small, grassroots donations. In other words, no surprise that system has lead us to this point.

Dion could have paid off his debt by now, all it would take is a national fundraising plea, a series of large dinners, etc. In the final analysis, had it been a priority, it seems reasonable to assume the job would be complete. But, at what cost? Aside from distractions, any leadership fundraising would essentially hurt the party fundraising. Hard to see how that is a positive, looking at the big picture.

The way I view this whole affair, the system is a politically driven farce, and good on the former candidates for keeping their priorities straight. About all Dion's debt tells me, paying it off was a secondary concern, trying to run a party took precedent. That isn't spin, you can quantify just how much time Dion has spent on his debt, you can demonstrate that he put the party before his personal circumstance. If that fact doesn't "look good", or give Pierre the poodle some ammunition, who cares. After all, it was only ever conceived with dubious intentions, by a party more interested in finding advantage, than developing a "fair" system.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

When the NDP chose a successor to Alexa MacDonough, they set an absolute maximum of about $200,000 per candidate and all the major candidates had no problem raising that amount and more by soliciting for small donations. In fact Layton's leadership campaign even ended up with a large surplus.

Why is it so difficult for the Liberals to play by the same rules that the other parties seem to have no problem with.

I realize that in the Liberal Party there is an expectation that leadership campaigns have to be lavish affairs with lost of free booze and hospitality suites where everyone gets plied with cavier and champagne and where there are highly paid backroom hacks etc... maybe in the future when the liberals need to pick a new leader they should make it a more modest affair based on volunteers and small donors and maybe instead of all the free booze in lavaish hospitality suites - soft drinks and ham and cheese sandwiches will have to do!

Anonymous said...

Let's play "Who Said That"

“Care to explain why Dion still has a massive leadership debt? Deadline of June 7th is getitng pretty close.”

Well, now you reveal yourself. From everything I’ve heard, Dion really didn’t do much to retire his debt, he was focused on other things. I don’t think it much of a statement on anything, nor do I think he will have any trouble paying it off. Let’s keep it real, if Dion did a cross-country “retire my debt” tour, it would be paid off in no time.


Why of course that was Steve V over at Scott's blog on May 13th 2008.

Give yourself a pat on the back if you guessed correctly :D

Steve V said...

anon

Wow, just where is the inconsistency there? I said:

"Dion really didn’t do much to retire his debt, he was focused on other things."

Today:

"I'm actually pleased that Dion has largely ignored his debt, and instead focused on his duties as leader of the party, and the opposition."


"Let’s keep it real, if Dion did a cross-country “retire my debt” tour, it would be paid off in no time."

Today:

"Dion could have paid off his debt by now, all it would take is a national fundraising plea, a series of large dinners, etc. In the final analysis, had it been a priority, it seems reasonable to assume the job would be complete."


Next...


anon

I guess I missed the free booze.

Steve V said...

Oh, now I remember you FRANCIS. You're the Con clown that couldn't acknowledge the impressive Montreal fundraiser, wherein the party raised 400 grand. That's actually relevant here, because Dion's people commented, that had he been consumed with his debt, he could have held that fundraiser for his own purposes. I applaud him for thinking of the party first :) Thanks for the reminder.

George said...

Ah, Steve, King Jean put the rules in and this leadership was not run under the FAA changes to that.

So you're accusing your former Leader of trying to destroy the Liberals.

And it's still a deadline, a deadline that can be extended but a deadline none the less. Half the candidates are making no attempt at paying down their debt and appear to be planning to default.

Steve V said...

Umm, george, payment of the debt is under the Conservatives new rules, from 5000 per, to 1100.

Jason Hickman said...

Accepting that the reduction from $5K to $1.1K was under the Tories' watch, the fact is that Chretien did significantly change the rules. For whatever reason, the Liberals haven't adapted to the current reality and it's fair to ask why the current regime of having to rely on smaller donations from individuals is - still - such a problem for them.

The new system, which you claim was designed to "handicap" the Liberals, is a continuation of what had been there before. The real changes had been put into place 2 PM's prior to Harper.

I'd have more empathy for your comments re: the problems of leadership candidates under the new rules if there wasn't such a difference between how the various parties are able to raise money generally under the "new" rules.

And if the tables were turned and it was a Tory (or NDP) leader who was having trouble paying his debts, I have little doubt that the Libs would be throwing rocks at that poor sap with the rest of them.