The Liberals are planning a “308-seat strategy” for the next federal election in which they will contest all seats in the Commons, including those in regions they have previously written off, such as Alberta.
Former leadership candidate Gerard Kennedy, now leader Stéphane Dion's adviser on election preparations, said the Liberals have opportunities to win seats in the West, although it will be hard if the election is called as soon as next spring.
“We need a little bit of time to make our case,” said Mr. Kennedy, a Manitoba-born politician who served as Ontario's education minister but was also well known in Alberta as the director of Edmonton's food bank.
“Some of the very quick scenarios might mitigate against that. But I am certainly treating it as very serious and I do see us with a 308-riding strategy. I think it's very important, the folks out there. They need to understand that we are serious about gaining back respect right across the country.”
Can the Liberals win seats in Alberta next election? Probably not, but if you take the longterm view, hardly the point. What is important is that the Liberal Party try to engage all Canadians, regardless of immediate vote potential. Kennedy was the only candidate that spoke of western Canada as more than a convenient afterthought, and his example should become standard Party procedure. The Liberal Party needs to be aggressive, much in the way Harper was towards Quebec.
Before you can elect MP's, you first have to win back credibility. Those that claim the Party shouldn't waste precious resources on lost causes adopt a narrow, short-sighted philosophy. The strategy shouldn't be soley about power, calculating different equations to simply win, but giving people a reason to take another look. If the Liberal Party approaches the electorate as Kennedy suggests, it lays a foundation which will pay divends down the road. A national party, that fights for votes everywhere, allocating resources based on regions and not electability.