Axworthy’s Take

Tom Axworthy’s Liberal credentials are second to none, so I thought I’d share his take on what the party should be doing to renew itself. First, be sure to check out his 2006 article on party renewal, which looked at four key questions:

I. What is the most pressing or overarching issue of our times and how should liberalism respond?

II. What are the values that should animate progressives and determine the central mission?

III. What human and financial capabilities are required to implement the policies that are created to reflect the value preference of liberals?

IV. What is required to animate the volunteer base of the Party so that they will mobilize and persuade citizens of the rightness of their cause?


The answers to the questions may have changed over the past two years, but these are still questions worth asking.

For a more recent take, here’s what Tom wrote on the need to re-energize the base, in the wake of the last election:

In assessing campaigns, the media tend to focus on the air war – the leader’s tour and the coverage it generates, advertising and the debates. This aspect of campaigning is obviously critical, but without a ground campaign to get voters to the polls the best advertising will not be enough to swing a close election. Parties still need active members. The Liberal party needs them more than most because it has a large potential voter base that needs more encouragement to vote.

In their preoccupation with leadership, media and party insiders are missing the real issue. The primary challenge for the Liberal party is that its cause is no longer compelling enough to persuade Canadians to give up their leisure time to join its ranks.

Party renewal, therefore, is not some romantic notion pursued by idealists. Renewal demands hard-headed realism that requires a Liberal party overhaul; rebuilding itself brick by brick, riding-by-riding so it is once again competitive on the ground.



  1. Regarding rebuilding the party, and convincing people to give up their leisure time for a political party/campaign, here’s an interesting article from Slate:

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