There used to be a grassroots to the Liberal party and I was part of it. My opinion was asked, my input considered and I worked hard. That was over 20 years ago. Then the Liberal Party of Canada sought financing and opinions from Bay Street and elsewhere. I've worked a little in campaigns since then but no one has ever sought my opinion or even asked me to contribute except our last MP who, in 2000, asked me set up a local chapter of the women's commission.
I chose to go to the leadership convention in Montreal to give LPC one last chance. Leaving that event, I felt that we had just chosen the best leader in Canada with the most progressive ideas and I was ready to participate again. I worked as a campaign manager for the losing candidate in the nomination locally but that's okay I was still prepared to help. I was shunted aside like so much dead weight. Many of those on that nomination team now only receive official notices of our membership but no further communications from the local organization. There is still all the rot remaining locally from the Chretien/Martin battles.
During the nomination process, I had written a plan for how to renew the grassroots of the organization. This plan included a fundraising plan that would fund all activities of the riding association and every year would put aside $25,000 toward coming election expenses. It was laughed at by the local organization and after the nomination I was removed rather unceremoniously from the executive.
But I have courage (or stupidity) so I'll put forth my idea again.
- Every two months hold an event in a different geographical part of the riding.
- Five of those six events would be potlucks with a host. The host would provide the main meat portion and everyone else would bring salad or dessert and $20.
- The sixth event to be held in February would be a black tie event (possibly with a speaker) and charge $50. Call it "Wear your heart on your sleeve" or something equally appropriate to the season. Celebrate flag day, etc.
- Each event would have a chairperson to organize, thereby spreading the work. They would bring onside their own team to help organize and sell tickets. This would also spread the talent building capacity of the whole team across the riding.
- Aim for having 200 at each event and all expenses of the actual food, etc. to be donated.
This plan would raise the awareness of the Liberal Party in the riding; allow Liberals to meet in a social environment where they can exchange ideas; identify Liberals who can help organize during a campaign and help find volunteers.
The money raised would fund the executive of the riding association to attend all regional meetings and Liberal training events so that they didn't have to dip into their own $1100 contribution limit to attend. As a result we would have trained, organized and full executives for each riding and the most committed volunteers would still have contribution room.
The money raised from these events would also fund a campaign every 4 years. The limits for an election hover around or just under $100,000 so putting $25,000 aside each year would make the job easier come election time.
So there it is in a nutshell. The key important fallout from this fundraising idea is that you would have involved the grassroots on a regular basis all year; they would have fun being Liberals again and you would be able to solicit their opinions on policy issues in a casual setting. BUT you would also be able to communicate from the party to the grassroots by putting forth ideas for discussion or adoption at policy conventions. Talking politics with fellow Liberals at events six times a year would keep the continuity of the party together and keep the party in touch with the grassroots.
This is the sort of plan that needs to happen for the Liberal Party of Canada to succeed in the future. It doesn't have to be my plan but something that includes the elements of regular fundraising, regular events; and prices that senior, students and the majority can afford.
Getting rid of the leader now after he rose so magnificently into the role during the election would be foolhardy at best; suicidal at worst.