Young Liberals of Canada and One Member, One Vote

These past few weeks on En Famille and on eclectic portions of the blogsphere, I’ve attempted to maneuver through the nuances of the discussion on the Youth amendment to One Member, One Vote.

The proponents of the amendment emphasize the strength and, by extension, the importance of the YLC as a bloc. In the past, the Commission has cemented its entitlement to securing a sizable portion of delegate seats at Conventions, forming a cohesiveness which has contributed to its pivotal role in shaping progressive policy on several occasions. 

YLC bloc aside, it would seem that an immediate extension of the current Convention system of Leadership voting to a system which would include all members – One Member, One Vote – would require quotas for youth (also women, seniors, aboriginals) in order to emulate current proportions. While one could argue that the current delegation system renders individual preference – and, hence, the views of these respective Commissions – irrelevant in favor of percentages tallied from riding association assemblies for first rounds of voting, the current system does give individual delegates license to vote as they choose on the Leadership on subsequent voting rounds; the votes herein ultimately determine the Leader in the case of several candidates (as in 2006).

In brief, a point allotment bolstering youth representation in Leadership voting has the following two apparent purposes:
i) Maintaining the vitally distinctive (internal) position of the YLC as a bloc in practical and symbolic terms, and,
ii) Maintaining the enthusiasm of the (external) reception that the Commission enjoys from the rest of the Party, which has been necessitated in the past by the YLC’s systematic underrepresentation and weakness (characteristic of members in the age range) in the organization at large.

These two purposes are mutually reinforcing. Together, they suggest the following predicament: “The Young Liberals of Canada, as a result of their youthful character, hold such a distinctively opinionated stance in comparison to the rest of the Party that their presence is weak in the face of the organization at large.”

Perhaps I have exaggerated for effect, but the meaning is clear: consideration of the fundamentally controversial issue of OMOV has been stymied by the disheartening virulence of another – one of organizational unity.

When members of the youth wing took memorable moments on convention floors to vocalize their stances on Same-Sex Marriage and Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense, among other policies, their ultimate strength lay not in the brute force of their numbers or the consistency of their accompanying masses; rather, their weight was in the substance of their reasoning. 

It is my view that as youth – the innovative forces with the most potential to effect positive, responsible change in our nation, not to mention the best volunteers – we should have pride, and not diffidence, in our enviable position in leadership campaigns. By the same token, we should utilize the breadth of our impressive achievements as inspiration to devise institutions by which we might integrate our student teams more fully with portfolios held in PTAs and the National Liberal Executive, while soliciting the views of historically marginal groups in aiming to be maximally inclusive.

It would be a triumph if young people comprised a more substantial proportion of the Party’s membership. It would mean more young candidates, more young regional presidents, and more young Members on the Hill. We can make it happen. Until then, let’s keep the conversation civil on the web, in the suites, and on the floor.

Clara Chang


Liberal Party releases 308 ridings strategy document.

The document can be found here.

Part of the press release from the Liberals states:

“The members of the party spoke and we listened” said the Hon. Navdeep Bains who co-chaired the Committee. Steven MacKinnon the other co-chair and former National Director of the Party added that “This report lays out a 308 riding strategy that is key to rebuilding our party and winning back the confidence of Canadians”.

Please feel free to look at this document and leave your comments on the recommendations either here in the comments message board, or over at Liberal 308’s Facebook site, on what you think of the recommendations, and whether or not you agree with Mr. Bains claims.

Change Commission

Hey, as you’ve probably already heard, the National Executive passed a resolution on November 27 to create a committee to scope out answers from party members about how to renew structure, technology, fundraising, communications, etc, to be summarized and taken to the convention, as well as five regional meetings, to which regional constituents will be invited, with the option of participation via webcast.

Opinions on renewal topics are being solicited at (click ‘Change‘), as well as, elsewhere on the forums, input into the 2009 budget and comments on public policy. Join the discussion if you haven’t already!

The Change Commission is seeking responses to the following questions:

1. Why don’t Liberals donate to the party as much as other political parties? How can we convince party members to donate to their riding and/or the national party?

2. How can we engage party members in the community? How can we attract community leaders to join the party?

3. How can we best rebuild weak riding associations?

4. How can we improve the party’s use of technology? How can technology best serve our ridings and our members?

5. How can we improve the structure of the party nationally, provincially, and locally?

6. How can LPC improve the party’s internal communications? What do members want to hear from the party?

7. How can LPC and the provincial and territorial associations better serve riding associations?

8. How LPC can improve the policy resolution and policy discussion process?

9. How can we best reach out to community groups and multicultural organizations?

Another Liberal blogger endorses Liberal 308 Concept

It’s been awhile since any of us posted here – what with coalitions and prorogues and a new Liberal leader, and the holidays… but we’re all still here, don’t worry.

I thought I’d freshen up the site a bit by mentioning we’ve added another Liberal blogger to the blogroll of those Liberal bloggers who supports the Liberal 308 concepts and goals – and that would be Impolitical, who’s well known amongst the Liberal blogosphere, and well regarded.

As for this place, we’ve been actually looking to move this site to one with its own unique URL address, so keep an eye out for that.

I’ll  just add on a  personal note that I sincerely hope Mr. Ignatieff keeps to his promises of wanting to do Liberal grassroots renewal, as well as following thru on implementing some type of a  Liberal 308 riding strategy plan. I’m sure many of us will be watching carefully over the next few months, regardless of what happens in Parliament, in the leadup to the Convention in the Spring, some signs of action on this front.

Start with the first step.

I have been soundly chastised by some people around me by stating, for the record, that I don’t think that any of the current Liberal leaders have what it takes to win big outside of our traditional hunting grounds.

I have also had some gumption to suggest that the Fossilized Remains of the party need to go. If they don’t then we, the grassroots membership, should continue along as if they were.

My focus is, and will be until the coffers are full and the bills are paid, on building the membership and promoting the Victory Fund.

I worked in fundraising for many, many years, and if there is one thing that all fundraising professionals know is that people aren’t going to give money to a cause they don’t believe in and aren’t engaged in, apart from the passive dumping of pocket change or unwanted pennies into a bucket or box.

If we can’t give the people of this country a reason to belong to the party, they aren’t going to. If we can’t engage the public, or offer them some value for their time and money, political parties are going to become increasingly irrelevant and voter participation will continue to fall.

How do we do that?

More importantly, how do we do that without invoking the name of Obama?

Canada’s politics doesn’t have an Obama because our country, our people, lack drama or the need for dramatic shifts in an Obama type way. We’re a generally stable and pragmatic people. We don’t have the issues or the craziness that requires this type of call to arms. We’ve already tried to build “the movement” with the only issue we’ve got (the environment) but average voters don’t care about it. They don’t care about it because it’s still a hippy-dippy, peace, love, granola, feel good issue. With the current leadership, I don’t see that changing.

So what do we, as the Liberal Party of Canada, have to offer the people of Canada that they aren’t already getting from the CPoC, NDP, or BQ?

What’s our plan to engage the people who’ve voted for us in the past but haven’t committed to us?

What do we have a plan for that the others don’t?

Ask Questions

For a different perspective, here’s a post by David Eaves:

Liberal Renewal: Identify Good Questions, Not Answers

The following was a memo I wrote for some friends back in May, 2006 as the Liberal Renewal Commission was just getting going. I was sensing that we needed a process that was emergent – one that leveraged its reputation (and meager resources) not to do something top down, but facilitate something bottom-up.

Recently a friend asked me to dig it up. After a little touch up, I thought I’d post it, as I believe much of it is as true to today as it was two years ago.

Memo: How Can the Liberal Party Renewal Committee maximize its impact?

Most Liberals agree the party needs to re-examine its policies, priorities and ideology to ascertain what, if anything, must change to enable the it to regain office.

The process and output of the Renewal Committee will determine its reception both among party members and the leadership candidates. This one pager assessment will argue that, to maximize its impact the committee should help define the debate liberals – through their leadership candidates – must have, not resolve it.

A robust output that outlines a new liberal party platform will likely have little impact. First, leadership candidates will be disinclined to use it. Adopting the committee’s recommendations could either damage the candidates credibility as an innovative thinker (they are ‘borrowing’ someone else’s work) or, more likely, candidates will ignore the recommendations as they won’t allow them to distinguish themselves from their opponents. Second, for a liberal party platform to be credible it must, in some capacity, emerge and/or receive buy-in from the grassroots of the party. This isn’t a plea for wide spread consultations. However, the opposite, hand picking a group of ‘best and brightest’ risks alienating members not included in the process and undermines the democratic ideals that should be core to the party’s DNA. Sitting on the civic engagement committee, I am forced to wonder how does this process measure up against the standards of engagement our policy recommendations will suggest for government programs?

How then can the Renewal Committee have impact, in the midst of a leadership race and without conducting broad, time consuming and questionably helpful consultations?

The liberal party does not need answers. The key to solving any problem, including the renewal of the Liberal Party and the creation of a platform, it is in ascertaining the right questions. The Renewal Committee should thus do two things: 1) Determine what, for each sub-committee topic, are the three emerging questions ANY political party must possess answers for to be the dominant Canadian political force in the 21st century. 2) Provide some criteria for an effective answers and some initial insights. Committee members could then publicly sign a letter committing themselves to pressing the leadership candidates for answers to each of the questions – a test to their capacity for leadership of the party and country for not just the next election, but for the 21st century.

This approach will maximize the impact of the committee by enabling it to provoke a real debate within the leadership race and, ultimately, among party members. If the commission simply provides answers it will alienate the leadership candidates and the party at large. By asking questions it can attempt to position itself as a force for thinking about and opening up, the debate over liberalism and ideas. Moreover, by asking questions it enables all members to participate in this process – by proposing answers – and can ensure that the issues the committee believes to be essential to renewal are placed front and centre.

“A 21st Century Liberal Party of Canada” – document proposal

A Liberal supporter who is interested in the goals and aims of Liberal 308 has made up a proposal for reforming the Liberal Party that he will be looking to propose at the upcoming LPCO conference. It is posted for your convenience to read and comment on. Its posting here does not indicate that the founders of Liberal 308 necessarily endorse it or its approach, but it was posted here for discussion on what it says in the document.

The file is in PDF format. Feel free to download/browse it and to leave questions/comments on, either at the comment thread here, or at the Liberal 308 Facebook group.