The following is a 308 Club Proposal that was given to Mr. Dion by Oshawa Liberal Candidate Dr. Sean Godfrey on his May 6th – May 7th visit to the Liberal Caucus in Ottawa.
The 308 Club
Every current Liberal candidate and Liberal MP automatically becomes a member of ‘The 308 Club’. The club permits each member to communicate freely and easily with any or all of the others.
*To permit free access to the best minds and ideas within the membership quickly and easily, without the usual frustrating and unnecessary obstruction from Party ‘handlers’ and bureaucrats.
*To foster better relations and true team spirit amongst candidates and MPs alike.
*Bridges the perceived gap between the political elite in their ivory towers on Parliament Hill and the humble ‘groundlings’ in the trenches – the candidates.
*Provides the Leader and the Cabinet, in Opposition or Govt., with a rapid means of canvassing the views of the members on issues, and provides the members with a quick way to bring their ideas forward to the highest levels where decisions are made, in turns of Party policy and strategy.
*Provides a feedback mechanism to the leadership on their proposals in turns of policy or of strategy
*Permits rapid communication between the Leader, MPs and candidates so there is a consistent message heard by the public from each on any given topic.
Furthermore, it allows concerted attacks to be launched simultaneously and quickly across the country, on any issue, at any time, by all candidates and MPS when required, maximizing the effect on the public.
* To aid the development of each of the 308 riding associations in combination with each of their candidates or MPs, to become truly functional, independent, but connected, ‘cells’ of effective political action across the country
In essence, what such a club would do is to foster better working relations between those key players who are our MPs and those who are our aspiring MPs.
Its aim is to effect better and more rapid communication and to lessen the real or perceived gap between those in power and those aspiring to power.
It is an essential exercise in practical politics, democratic principles and the necessary adaptation of the Liberal Party to a new modern way of conducting political warfare at the grassroots level.
Why is this important to achieve?
Simply put, the Liberal Party needs to think of all its candidates and MPs as equal. That way each and every one feels valuable, respected and important. That creates a true team spirit and a true sense of comradeship.
This Liberal opposition cannot become anything more successful – unless it converts some of those humble ‘groundling’ candidates into new MPs.
‘The 308 Club’ is one tool to make that more likely to happen. There are twice as many Liberal candidates as there are Liberal MPs: a more effective communication process between the two groups will merge them effectively into one cohesive fighting force
Consider the contrast in styles this makes with the autocratic ‘one man party’ of the Conservative Government. ‘The 308 Club’ is something the Conservatives would never be able to even understand let alone contemplate with their rigid inflexible hierarchy.
In their Party, no one may speak or utter a thought unless first cleared by the PMO.
By contrast, ‘The 308 Club’ simply but very effectively demonstrates that the Liberals not only preach about true democratic principles, but live by them, too.
Communication could be by many methods including by telephone, by email, or a members’ private forum web page, by means of telephone conferencing and by regular meetings of ‘The 308 Club’.
MPs and candidates would have immediate access to the personal email and tel. numbers of each other, so direct communication as well as member wide communication could be facilitated at a much faster pace, with no external hindrances.
What it really requires is a shift in how some Liberal MPs may regard themselves as an exclusive elite, rather than as a source of inspiration and a vital support for their colleagues and lesser mortals: the candidates.
That change in attitude and perception will go a long way to making the process less daunting to those candidates, less confusing and more likely to make them successful in their attempts – as they will have a better working knowledge of what is happening. Information currently is distributed almost haphazardly to candidates from a distant leadership at arms length – a very remote and ineffectual process which does not inspire confidence or team building.
It will take a shift in approach for ‘The 308 Club’ to yield its maximal benefits. But, I humbly submit that it could become one of the cornerstones of a future successful Liberal Party machine.
We cannot hope to beat the Conservatives by adhering to failing strategies of the past. They have failed and will continue to do so. We do not have their money and we thankfully lack the Conservatives’ rigid adherence to a dictatorial style of leadership. That is our true strength – and we need to exploit it.
Submitted May 2008, in person, to Mr. Dion, Leader of the Opposition, by Dr Sean Godfrey, Liberal Candidate for Oshawa