I actually have very tempered expectations heading into the Liberal Convention. Truth be told, there is a good chance Liberals emerge from Ottawa with not much to show on the "renewal" front. It remains to be seen if anything of substance will be adopted or signals sent on the "personnel" front. In addition, I sense some emerging opinion that lack of real change isn't necessarily a bad thing, reform for the sake of it isn't inherently advantageous. Read a Tom Clark for example, and you wonder if people have incorporated the last few elections, apparently "oblivion" starts if we reform next week, as opposed 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011(my Mayan calendar started years ago). I find perspectives like Clark's bizarre, even though there is a rationale, it reeks of the "penalty box" mentality, which assumes time is our friend, just sit tight.
If I had to handicap the Liberal president race, I'd still consider Copps the front runner. Of interest to me, does the online "hype" surrounding my guy Crawley translate to real delegates, because I see his candidacy as very much social media driven, very much organic in momentum, does that "buzz" manifest into bodies or another example of the cyberworld overstating practical numbers. What is clear, this race is very much shaping up as the "insurgent vs the old guard", that's your narrative, that's your frame, expect post-Convention digestion to view the vote within these parameters. Should Copps emerge victorious, the symbolism will be there and it will make a statement to the wider non-partisan audience.
When you look at the reforms proposed, there is some element of radical moves, but also much that isn't. The "primary" proposal might not fly, I sense some hesitation, but even if it does, the requirement of signing up as a supporter, filling out a form, declaring, this process still provides a "closed" flavour, it is not opening up the door in a radical way, it just makes it SLIGHTLY easier to be a Liberal of sorts. I favour the "supporter" designation, but it's inclusion is really a pedestrian step, because apart from paying a small sum- which was never a big financial barrier- the process doesn't really change. Where the primary idea looks particular attractive is the novelty aspect, which will generate attention. But, when it comes down to the details, participation will still be limited and involve much of the past, in terms of what is required to come in and vote.
I'm also sensing some reservations about limited the leader's power to influence policy. In reality, when it comes to appointing candidates, our choice is a strange one indeed, the leader gets a quota of sorts and within that still retains his "power". We can argue whether that appointment retention is good or bad, but nobody can claim adoption would be revolutionary. On the policy front, I do see real reform, should we vote for these resolutions, it will help to transform inputs and the hierarchical discussion. Again though, does this reform pass?
My overall point, Liberals could well leave Ottawa with Copps as their president, a couple tinkering reforms and much abandoned. Everyone does there own deduction whether or not that scenario is a good or bad, but for all the talk of renewal, it is quite possible we leave with the old guard candidate at the helm and a short on true "bite" reform agenda. I don't favour change for it's own sake, frankly a few ideas proposed are flawed. However, I also understand the power of optics and the fact Liberals won't meet again for a couple of years. For that reason, I think it imperative every Liberal fast forward to the end of this convention and envision what message we want to convey coming out of Ottawa, what's your desired headline, because that consideration isn't irrelevant. Symbolism matters, and rather than see oblivion on the horizon, I live in the post-apocalypse world, it already happened :)