Right out of the gate, Dominic LeBlanc puts the focus on Liberal party "renewal". Expect to hear all the candidates speak to the concept, akin to the nauseating "change" mantra of our American cousins. Everyone agrees that the Liberal Party is in need of reform, but the crucial point for me, who best articulates "renewal" in a substantive way, who puts meat to the bone, beyond easy platitudes and generalities.
We've heard it before, it was only a couple years ago that various candidates spoke to the need for "renewal", but in the final analysis, nothing really came of the rhetoric. In my mind, that failure to translate words to action is the greatest regret of the Dion reign. There was no sense whatsoever of a comprehensive plan to re-energize and expand the grassroots, make the party more egalitarian, less elitist, no direction in terms modernization and outreach. Maybe we ask too much, but the harsh reality, little evidence of even incremental evolution, it's still pretty much status quo.
Leblanc is wise to seize the "renewal" mantra, because I suspect many will see the other principles as representative of the Liberal establishment, the word brings an outsider flavor that will resonate with rank and file. But, I think we need to be careful, it's not about generational change or fancy slogans, no matter the candidate, who brings a real understanding of the institutional challenges, who demonstrates a depth and the drive to really make it a focus, rather than a convenient talking point.
I have plenty of real world ideas, and from what I gather, many ordinary Liberals are starting to express their concepts for moving forward. Rather than a pat on the head, it will be interesting to see who presents detail, a firm timetable, a credible plan. Within that discussion, obviously policy will be key, but it must go beyond simple arguments of appealing to different constituents.
The heart of the discussion, revolves around a simple practicality, MONEY. It's fine to articulate lofty ideals for "renewal", but any real application is dependent on cold, hard cash, it's all irrelevant, if you don't have the machine to drive the concepts.
I read yesterday, that only 5% of Liberals give to the party on a regular basis, a fact which is both a positive and a negative. That figure means there is a latent pool of support that already exists, the need to bring new membership not as crucial as first blush would suggest. That doesn't preclude a plan to draw in new members, but it means that the first step is motivating what already exists. Who steps forward with practical ideas to change the present apathy?
Rather than go through a leadership process, which effectively puts on hold the "renewal" until after the captain is chosen, I want to see if any of the candidates begin the practical now, give us something we can point to in their riding, as a template for the greater party. In other words, rather than taking to the stump to win over support, let's hope we see some multi-tasking, wherein a candidate can demonstrate some example of how the rhetoric meets the road. What strategies are you employing in your corner of the national party, what innovative ideas are you bringing to the table, what's working and why? Something you can put in a resume, rather than an essay. Everyone will seize the "renewal" agenda, it's a trendy necessity, but practical application, with a comprehensive depth, will move us beyond simple pandering.