Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Shake The Tree

Yes, it's true that Harper would have loosened bank regulations in the past, he didn't support Liberal initiatives. Yes, it's true that the Conservatives have weathered this current economic downturn, largely because of past Liberal policies and fiscal management. Yes, it's true that Canada was better off with the past Liberal government. It's also entirely true that Canadians don't give a rats ass and references to the past are counter productive, the rearview mirror offers no future electoral reward.

Canadians booted the Liberals years ago, there is no room for revisionism- what that brand now stands for, permanently cemented in our minds. For that reason, the pre-occupation with past glory, the effort to remind Canadians of Harper's past failings, does nothing for a party that truly needs to re-position and re-invent itself. The focus is particularly non-productive, when you consider our current leader has NO ties to the past legacy- why he would want to carry the weathered flag escapes me.

John Manley offers some "advice" today, namely that the Liberals need self-examination a "new generation to reinvigorate the party". Nevermind the irony of an old war horse championing the need for new leadership, it's a valid perspective. Some time ago I posited the idea that we needed some new faces on the MP front- this was met with much resistance, everybody loves their democratically elected fiefdoms in the Liberal Party. A inward looking party, that sometimes fails to see the situation beyond the institutional circle jerk. A simple fact, until the Liberals present something revolutionary, they will remain within the confines of the tired brand, that continues to erode.

To Ignatieff's credit, and his team, you do see a concerted effort to rebrand the party on the policy front. However, that outward expression must be accompanied by inward reform, which might require stepping on some toes. Forget the pecking orders, I've been here longer, surround Ignatieff with the fresh blood we already have in place, and augment it with further, aggressive recruitment- present a spry, energetic picture, rather than something that resembles the Vatican.

The Liberals have been hand wringing for years now, and our current state demonstrates little progress. I submit part of the problem is all the tinkering around the edges, that lacks the political courage to violently shake the Liberal identity and suffer a few casualties along the way. One way or another, the Liberals will turn the page, I'd just like to skip a few painful chapters and get to the inevitable climax.


The Mound of Sound said...

It's hard to argue with the need to revitalize the LPC but that doesn't mean abandoning the centre/centre-left as the current management has done. The party did once have leaders with vision that appealed to, engaged and even challenged the public. That's the baby you don't want to throw out with the bathwater of the past.

Steve V said...


Just curious, do you pay attention to recent events or just go by your 2009 narrative? The last couple of months, the Libs have clearly moved into that space, if you're being FAIR in the least. Grudges cloud judgement.

WesternGrit said...

We do have the youth - they do need to step up... But for the most part, they are. The "vets" are solid Parliamentarians, and have a lot to offer. It is also in our interest to keep a diverse demographic of MPs, since this country is quite diverse - AND - seeing a growing population of boomers who relate to our coterie of "middle aged" MPs.

As far as policy, I agree with Mound, but must also agree with Steve, that we HAVE made some real progress in that area.

I think, at this point, it's really just about getting some positive media attention. If that means standing up and hammering away about one particular Liberal policy initiative, then we must (rural synergy plan, etc.). I think we let the media carry the Conservative scandal stories. They seem to love the "dirty laundry". We should continue to focus on our new policy initiatives, and a "true Liberal" agenda... And spend money telling the public about it.

Speaking of which: I LOVE the new gun registry ads. We need more such ads on more policies which differentiate us from the Conservatives. Canada's place in the World would be a good one. The environment is another. Women's right to choose is still another. Use Harper/Con MP quotes on the ads. Get clear, and use simple English with Canadians. Make the ads "folksy"/"hockey Momish"...

It will work. Give it a little time. The time is key to mark the end of a government. That's how - usually - voters' whims change. Harp is basically into his second term now... People are starting to see a want/need for change...

Steve V said...


I would move some MP's around. They symbolism of putting Gerard, Martha, Justin around Ignatieff would send a message. Mix it up, what do we have to lose, we've pretty much been stuck at rock bottom for three years with all these wise vets, it ain't doing anything to project a new image.

The Mound of Sound said...

Recreate the Brat Pack of yore? A gang of aggressive young MPs to sic on Harper like white on rice might be a fine idea. I think the public would welcome an opposition that was a lot tougher on Harper.

Omar said...

Banking regulations, current economic downturns, John Manley's "advice" to Liberals and the gun registry notwithstanding, I want to see some party, ANY party, begin to stand up and hammer away at the theological underpinnings that are driving this Conservative government bus. I have had extreme concerns about this right-wing movement since I learned Harper was an evangelical several years ago and his agenda for social change isn't hard to see; chipping away at abortion rights being the most glaring example. This societal threat cannot go unchallenged and to my mind that is exactly what is happening. The party that stands up for a secular Canada will be the wind that shakes my tree.

Steve V said...

Now you're talking mound.

Steve V said...


I think people have hammered that angle, but with a minority, Harper is able to appear moderate, so it looks like fear mongering.

Omar said...

I don't think it is fear mongering if what is happening in this country is factual. Ever since the "Soldiers in the Streets" debacle, the Liberals are petrified to be seen saying anything untoward about the Harperites.. The "We'll right the ship of state when we're back in office" strategy is getting old. Getting old, not working and laughable.

Steve V said...

Disagree, I actually think we've wasted way to much time trying to use the hidden agenda argument. Not saying it isn't true, but it's not effective.

Tof KW said...

"Ever since the "Soldiers in the Streets" debacle..."

I'm not exactly certain why the Libs need to keep excusing themselves for an ad that was never released for public airing. Meanwhile no one give a friggin' puffin-shyte about what Harper did to Dion? Sorry but in my books bullet holes and pooping on the opposition leader go way beyond acceptable campaign advertising.

RuralSandi said...

Speaking of soldiers - here's a letter that appeared in our local newspaper today:

An open letter to Rick Norlock: In regards to his veteran’s survey pamphlet
Posted By Matthew Campbell
Posted 1 day ago

The following is an open letter to Northumberland-Quinte West MP Rick Norlock on his veteran's survey pamphlet.

I am writing in regards to your veterans ‘survey’ that you mailed out to our community.

I’m sure most like myself have seen it for what it is, a poorly disguised way of trying to show off all of the things your party says it has done for veterans, but many know this is simply lip service.

I served in Afghanistan and know firsthand how your party has turned its back on veterans. The Conservatives have forced many of the wounded to go to court to get what is rightfully theirs.

Your party has done nothing to try and right the wrongs of the New Veterans Charter; and parades it to the public like it’s a gift to us, when all it did was cut the lifelong responsibility of the government by handing young veterans one-time payments that equal about seven to 10 years of compensation under the old lifetime system.

Your party has done nothing to end the (SISIP) clawback of Veterans Affairs benefits for veterans who fall under the old monthly pension system, which forced thousands of veterans to launch a class action lawsuit. On top of all of this, your party has has also allowed Veterans Affairs Canada to adopt the HMO model when dealing with Veterans Healthcare by forcing providers and veterans to jump through a maze of hoops in order to qualify for payment and treatment resulting in delays.

Your pamphlet was a slap in the face, by using veterans to try and gain votes while blatantly lying to the public. We are not awns in your or your parties’ partisan games.

You have also insulted many of the citizens in our riding by questioning their commitment. The fine people of my community (Cobourg) support veterans. Many stand on bridges no matter what the weather to welcome home those who have paid the ultimate price for Canada’s foreign policy. Still, you send this ‘survey’ asking if they agree with all the ‘positive’ things the Conservatives are doing for veterans, when your party has cut benefits to one of the lowest levels in history.

I hope that this rant will be a wakeup call for you to truly stop and look at veterans issues and not simply "toe the party line" or feel like you making a real difference in our lives by posting a link on your website to the Red Friday Campaign.

I encourage you to contact me, if you truly want to learn about real world issues facing young veterans and how your parties policy is having a negative impact on our health and reintegration back into the society that we swore to protect.

I also encourage the people of our ridings to contact your office to question your commitment to veterans of all ages.

Matthew Campbell

...I'm in Northumberland County in a town next to Cobourg

farwestie said...

I think the party rank and file did head for renewal, when they chose Stephane Dion as leader. He had 10 years' cabinet experience under Chretien and Martin and a squeaky clean personal record--precisely what the party needed to restore public confidence. And look at the competition--rebranded Alliance Reform!! The policies Dion came up with were on the right track and would have appealed to the undecided if the LPC had championed them instead of allowing themselves to be snowed by War Room propaganda.
So now we're older, wiser, and still behind the 8 ball. Asking what Dion would do now may be the best possible solution. I know in my riding, many people with a visceral dislike of the LPC voted for the Liberal candidate in Sept. '08 because Dion was a new kind of Liberal leader.
So how's this for the LPC's new slogan? : "We are the ones you've been waiting for!"

Steve V said...

With all due respect to Dion, from what I've been told, he was old school to the bone, in terms of this party and how it operates. Where was the reform? Yes, some vision, but also far too much time spent defending the past, which was thoroughly rejected by voters. Imagine the next Labour Party referencing the good ole days under Blair/Brown and expecting voters to react positively. Once your tarnished, it's best to look a the horizon, not the past.

Just to add for all this talk of grassroots expression, if not for non-elected, party stalward delegates, Dion would have finished fourth in true democratic support. People inflate the reality, his assent was made possible by old school "ways".

KNB said...

I tend to think there is a way to meld the two...in fact I see it as imperative.

No high focus on the past, but more of a, 'We know how to move forward' attitude and yes, linking to past glories, just in passing.

The Liberals have been around too long in peoples minds to appear to be a new party and to be frank, I think that would be a big mistake.

New ideas? Absolutely, but a reminder to how we've had them before isn't a bad foundation.

Tricky stuff, but if we are worth our weight, I think we can find that balance.

Steve V said...

I hear what you're saying, but I can think of countless examples, wherein a historically entrenched party has completely reinvented itself and appeared "new". Happens all the time, but you need a new image, new people, new direction and a new presentation. Everybody remembering the glory days, wherein Libs won by default, is hardly inspiring, and at this stage, where the party is on the cusp of complete and irreversable failure, it's actually dangerous. Sometimes, I think the past offers comfort, when really people should be scared to the core. It's slipping away, tired and less relevant, you can see it. Anyways, that's just my two cents from the periphery...

KNB said...

I hear you too...give me examples.

Given our demographic in this country, we need a comfort factor too imo, so it's the melding of the two needs that I am on board with.

Steve V said...

Blair, Obama, Clinton big stage, whole new coalitions, entirely fresh message, facing greater odds. Look at how reform managed to replace the old PC party, Harper is actually a great example of reinvention. A guy like Dexter transformed the provincial NDP into a viable, current option. It's sort of defeatist to say that the Libs are forever beholden to past connotations. All I know, the references to the 90's doesn't move a single soul into our column, and given a little over 1 in 10 eligible voter will actually bother to head to the polls and vote Liberal, the situation is dire enough to dispense with any comfort blankets. I actually think this party is in the most precarious position it ever has been, and if we don't change soon it will be a has been.

farwestie said...

Speaking as someone who was a delegate to the Leadership Convention in 2005, it seems only right to point out that the party "stalwarts" and old guard strongly supported Ignatieff. Those of a more radical bent were supporting Rae. Dion's election was made possible by joining forces with the many young Liberals who were there to vote for Gerard Kennedy. When Dion emerged ahead of Kennedy by two votes, Kennedy's supporters followed him into Dion's camp. And according to the agreement between these two leaders, Dion's supporters would have helped elect Kennedy if the two deciding votes had gone the other way.
If that's not the forces of renewal at work, I don't know what is. The tragedy of what's happened since is that the old guard wasn't ready for renewal then and may not be ready for it even now.

Steve V said...

I don't want to rehash the past, suffice it to say, if not for ex offico delegates Stephane and his small first vote suppoort would have dropped off after the first ballot. I can also say with certainty, that once elected Dion did nothing on the renewal front, the party remained same as it ever was. Without betraying confidences, those in other reform camps quickly realized it was all much ado about nothing. On policy I'll agree, vehicle for change internally, non-existent.