Saturday, October 18, 2008

New Strategy for the Liberals

As many have noted, getting rid of a seasoned leader like Stephane Dion at a time like this is irresponsible. In my opinion, any Liberal advocating for this is looking for glory but will only find the vacuous state of celebrity. Canadians want substance to vote for, not slick celebs.

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.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dion should stay - no race til election debt is erased!

Today the media has put in considerable time trying to scare up a Liberal to say Dion should leave. Well, they found Joe Volpe. As for Mr. Volpe's comments to Mike Duffy, well, who really cares? Someone ought to give Volpe his walking papers. I can't even imagine why he was allowed to run in this election. Oh look, I'm not the only one who thinks this.

There's Bowie chiming in from overseas, Jim nails it here and Danielle here. My favourite commentary on this topic goes to Grumpy Voter. Duffy's star as a journalist fell like a thump when he got a proper dressing down from Ms. May, and rightfully so.

Any Liberal who pretends to have an entitlement to the leadership of the party should be told by all and sundry to knock it off and get busy erasing the election debt. 

No race until the debt is covered. Boy, that will focus their attention, won't it?

Stephane Dion deserves the utmost respect as he makes a considered decision upon reflection. He is fully entitled to take until the house sits in my opinion. There is no rush. The election is over and the right move for the Liberal Party of Canada, the country and for Mr. Dion's own family is a most critical decision at this point in time. I fully trust Stephane Dion to make the best decision. I've never witnessed a man with more grace under pressure than this leader.

Zorpheus says it most forcefully, then there's Impolitical, and Miranda over at A View from the Left . Then Vijay has a go at the theme, as does A BCer in Toronto

Let Mr. Dion stay. Any Liberal - senior or anonymous - or media person that asks for his answer before he's ready to give it is a pathetic, glory seeking fool like Joe Volpe.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Uptick on Dow comes AFTER Obama's speech

Conservatives will be breathing a sigh of relief that the Dow Jones Index is on the upswing today. Isn't it curious that the timing of the rise didn't gather steam until after Obama made his Economic Rescue Plan speech today!

Best quote of the week!

Bloggers are really making an impact on this campaign. In my opinion, the best quote of the week can be found at David Graham's blog. David has posted his recent letter to the Guelph Mercury. The line that caught my attention: 

The last time a Conservative government balanced a budget was in 1912, the year the Titanic sank.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ideology and the Politics of Personality

Stephen Harper is incapable of handling the economy. Yes, he’s trying to portray himself as a leader but the basis for his ideological response is a fraud. Harper has the kind of stubborn temperament that works fine for staying the course but when flexibility of thought and consensus building is required, Harper’s very foundational ideology has no answers for the crisis that faces us.

Many pundits are saying Harper is most capable because he is an economist. What kind of economist is Harper? There are schools of thought in economic theory. He was taught in what is now called the Chicago School located at the University of Calgary. The beacon of light in this school is free trade, free market, and free enterprise fanaticism - the very same deregulated system that is at the heart of the global financial crisis.

Harper says he’ll stay the course. Canada cannot afford to stay on that course as the global system collapses around us and governments are forced to violate all of the principles of Harper’s “principled” free market conservatism. Harper’s ideology is not competent to handle the economic situation. And his stubborn adherence to it will drag us further down the path the Americans are currently on. Harper has been fortunate to have reaped the rewards of a full treasury on arrival. Now the cupboard has been spent bare and he has only his ideology to rely on.

Maybe we could recruit James K. Galbraith, son of the infamous Canadian economist John K. Galbraith, to return to Canada with some of his progressive economic theory. Galbraith argues that modern America has fallen prey to a wealthy, government-controlling "predatory class". Why would Canada follow Harper down this path? 

Galbraith is also a merciless critic of his own profession:

“Leading active members of today's economics profession, the generation presently in their 40s and 50s, have joined together into a kind of politburo for correct economic thinking. As a general rule — as one might expect from a gentleman's club — this has placed them on the wrong side of every important policy issue, and not just recently but for decades. They predict disaster where none occurs. They deny the possibility of events that then happen. They offer a "rape is like the weather" fatalism about an "inevitable" problem (pay inequality) that then starts to recede. They oppose the most basic, decent, and sensible reforms, while offering placebos instead. They are always surprised when something untoward (like a recession) actually occurs. And when finally they sense that some position cannot be sustained, they do not re-examine their ideas. Instead, they simply change the subject.”

Sound familar?

The theories on which he built his entire political career are in tatters and because of his personality, Harper is totally unprepared to deal with the situation. His stubborn adherence to failed principles will drag Canada down. Rather than being open to the advice of experts whom Harper has clearly demonstrated disdain for, Harper will hold fast and Canada will be much the worse for it.

The greatest threat facing Canada today is the disastrous fiscal policies of an ideology stubbornly adhered to. If Harper is elected, we can expect a systematic concerted effort to unravel the remaining vestiges of our institutions that represent our sovereignty as a nation.

Humanity has struggled for centuries to unshackle themselves from the subjugation of kings, popes, empires and raw capitalism. Why would Canada choose now to reverse the efforts of this struggle?

In one generation we have idly watched as America’s elected officials dismantled their nation’s industries, sending jobs and technology to foreign shores to be made on the cheap. America’s labour force has been disemboweled and by virtue of our trading relationship, Ontario and Quebec have been feeling the effects of this for the last two or three years. The readjustment we felt in the early 1990’s after implementation of the North America Free Trade Agreement will pale in comparison to the adjustments we can expect in the coming months.

Our economy will be shredded by the same ideology of unregulated corporate free enterprise, free trade and free-market fanaticism to the south. With his willfully, arrogant behaviour Stephen Harper believes in the same policies that have led the United States to teeter the whole world on the edge of disaster. We on Main Street will be left to pay the piper through loss of the social safety net, our universal health care, our resources and the institutions which make us sovereign and separate from the United States.

The world is watching and wondering - what will Canadians do on October 14th? Will we choose the free market ideology drunk on bailouts or will we choose the more reasoned, consultative, consensus building and flexible approach offered by the Stephane Dion and the Liberal team? 

George Soros says go with carbon tax

Saw this video yesterday and was planning to write about it, then this morning, I saw that Mike Watkins had already done a great job. Check here for an explanation of why George Soros, one of the richest people in the world, is saying that carbon tax, although politically unpopular, is the best solution for the economy, especially during this crisis.

letter to CTV

Mr. Duffy;

I believe your decision to air the Dion outtakes is one of the worst displays of corporate journalism in this country. As a Canadian I was embarrassed by this example of news coverage.  As a former journalist, I am appalled to see how low the standards have fallen.

As a consequence, I will be boycotting all CTV programming, and will be organizing a boycott as well. This boycott will be in effect until Mike Duffy apologizes for airing these tapes on his show. The Dion tapes were not newsworthy, and they were obtained through dishonest means. 

I am tired of francophones being cut up for their efforts to use the English language. In addition, you have insulted all people with hearing challenges. 

This does nothing to ease the tensions between Quebec and the rest of Canada, or help people make a thoughtful, wise decision on how to vote.

Your obvious glee in this moment of "gotcha" journalism was disappointing to witness. Possibly a return to a journalistic ethics professional development program would serve you well. There are several excellent programs in Canada. One can hold out hope that you can learn what ethics in journalism are.