Friday, June 03, 2011

Sooner Rather Than Later

Not sure this suggestion classifies as a "reform" for the Liberals, but I believe it has merit considering the circumstances. Every sentence uttered by a Liberal these days includes, "renewal" or "grassroots", sometimes both. If this party is truly going to rise from the ashes and reinvent itself, resonate on the ground a simple practical measure is to accelerate riding nominations and get candidates in place for the next election.

Obviously, any rebuild starts at street level, which is why it would be advantageous to have all our candidates for the next election in place by the time the permanent leader is chosen. Rather than a situation where many candidates are picked just prior to an election, this type of "deadline" would ensure people spend considerable time branding their name within the community, attending events, rubbing elbows, a consistent presence during the supposed "down time" prior to 2015. The Liberals desperately need roll up their sleeves types, this type of long commitment would ensure the most dedicated, motivated stand for the party.

Rather than local candidates just being a name on a sign, the vast, vast majority really having no idea who they are, a long candidacy would help in that regard. Any issue in the local paper, our candidate is the representative available for Liberal comment. Liberals don't have the incumbent advantage, we don't have name recognition, which makes it imperative our candidates give themselves as much time as possible to connect and converse. Want to run for the Liberals, part of the job description means dedicating yourself to two plus years of attending corn roasts, hitting the farmers market every Saturday, meeting with local stakeholders, are you ready to do that? The goal being, come election time people say "I know so and so and I know what so and so stands for".

This suggestion might sound trivial, particularly given how the NDP rolled through Quebec contradicting this entire premise. However, if you're going to rebuild a party, establish a donor base, become a true grassroots entity, then having the local representative on board early, participating and getting involved, seems like a solid step in that regard.


Dan F said...

Some star candidates (and even regular candidates) will have other careers on the go for the next 4 years, and its hard to put your life on hold for that long. Being the nominated candidate is a hard job with no pay and only a chance of paying off down the road.
Life happens and circumstances change, even if we nominated 200 candidates by the end of this year, when the next election rolls around we might find that 1/3rd of them don't want to do it anymore.
A new leader will also want the opportunity to help build the team that will stand behind her (or him) in the next campaign.

Steve V said...

Forget star candidates, we need people who are connected to their communities. I realize other careers, but we need people who are prepared to sacrfice, this will attract only the most dedicated, motivated. As for the leader, it's scares me that people still think he/she should dictate what the local riding wants. Let the ridings pick their people, that's how ground up democracy works, not dictation from Ottawa.

Steve V said...

Just to add, candidates don't "stand behind" the leader, they stand for the PARTY, or that's how it's supposed to work. The leader can build his/her office, team, but when it comes to representation, the locals should call the shots and this approach will build a more vibrant base that feels empowered.

Steve V said...

To clarify, I'm not suggesting a full time gig, but more like most people who volunteer for causes OUTSIDE of the workplace. I fail to see why we can't expect this level of commitment for someone who wants to carry the banner.

Jason Cherniak said...

I think it's way too soon. Let potential candidates prove that they are part of the community BEFORE we nominate them. I think two years out is the time to get seriously started on nominations.

Also, in line with the "grass roots" argument, I believe that our campaign readiness committees need to be elected and accountable. It will take time to set that up before you can issue nomination rules.

Steve V said...

2 years sounds fair, and that gives 2 years to lay a solid community foundation. I suggested by the time the new leader is chosen, so really that's not much different, if we chose to delay.

Jesse said...

Selecting the candidates before the new leader is chosen would be a good way of demonstrating, at least to ourselves, that the candidates stand for their communities, not for the leader.

It sounds like Jason's hinting at another point, which is that the candidates selected need to have help and a plan in place to make good use of that time before they're selected, which is another institutional improvement we need to undertake. Makes one realize four years isn't as long as it seems.

Tof KW said...

Picking candidates now for 2015 is way-way too premature, but having all 308 in place by 2014 should be a priority.

Just to give one example why, close to home here in the Kitchener-Conestoga riding, the Libs picked a good local candidate for 2011 in Bob Rosehart - former president of Wilfred Laurier University. Problem is that he was picked not long before the writ was dropped. As soon as it became known he was the Lib candidate, the jackass campaign manager for CPC MP Harold Albrecht purchased and immediately linked it to the smear-site.

This is the US-style GOP political bullshit that the Liberals need to overcome in election #42.

A good way to start is, as Steve is recommending, to have candidates chosen and on the ground well before the 2015 election date. Then start setting themselves up within the communities ...before the Reformatories do this for them.

Steve V said...

Perhaps some kind of pledge to have all candidates in place 18 months before the 2015 vote is a reasonable goal.

sharonapple88 said...

I remember going to a cultural festival in June 2010, and there were Conservatives handing out hats and fans. It looked like this was the Conservatives' plan -- start early to get acquainted with an area. It seemed to have worked with them.

Besides the candidates, the party should also try and see if there are members in local areas who wouldn't mind helping the party and the candidate with meetings, gatherings, introductions, etc.

Frankly Canadian said...

I totally agree with you here Steve, the Liberals NEED to prove to Candians that they are re-thinking their methods and that "from the grass roots" approach would be the best way. In my riding we never know who's going to be the Liberal candidate until election time, the Conservative candidate whos is from the city hall council and is at every function and is always at the farmers market every Saturday, he has won this riding for the third time now. As for the US style political bullcrap, well I hope our candiates are smart enough to see every angle and I hope they prepare themselves for it as well. I am totally convinced that Mr. Ignatieff failed to do this and as a result he let the Conservatives define him and painted him as an elitist, if you remember many people on this blog site were screaming for counter attack ads, however none came. Sharon hit the nail on the head, it seem to work for the Conservatives so why not try something new instead of waiting for that ever elussive messiah leader to come and save the day. I sure hope the Liberals get their crap together because me and a few others I know are one step closer to a Green party vote. Good post Steve keep them coming, oh and on another subject that post you did a few days ago about those intensity targets, I hate to say it but Canadians don't give a crap about the environment and the fact that you had only four comments should be a slight indication of that. Canadians will go down in the history books as being bad for the environment, whether we like it or not.

Steve V said...


You show up at Farmers Market every Saturday for a couple years and it will make a difference.


I realize nobody cares, but I do :)

sharonapple88 said...

Good post Steve keep them coming, oh and on another subject that post you did a few days ago about those intensity targets, I hate to say it but Canadians don't give a crap about the environment and the fact that you had only four comments should be a slight indication of that. Canadians will go down in the history books as being bad for the environment, whether we like it or not.

People might say that they don't care about the environment, but they might change their minds when they consider that we might be facing some of the consequences of global warming right now. Global warming increases the chance of flooding. (Another article on the matter.) This spring it was the Richelieu and Winnipeg flood. This summer predictions of floods in Alberta, Quebec, and B.C. Flood prevention might have to involve lowering carbon emissions. (And get international co-operation on this instead of scuttling deals like the Conservatives have been doing.)

You show up at Farmers Market every Saturday for a couple years and it will make a difference.

I agree. Show up. Talk to people, human being to human being. How could this actually hurt? Maybe there's something to learn from Ted Hsu's campaign. He had roots in the community and the party, and his nominination campaign lead up to the inevitable federal election.

Michael Erskine said...

One word--redistribution.