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?

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.

Bloggers who support the Liberal 308 concept

As you might have noticed, we have started to include a list of bloggers over on our sidebar who have endorsed the Liberal 308 idea/concept and the notion that structural and organizational reforms are needed to make the Liberal Party work better and compete better.

The easiest way to know they support the concept and to include them here is if they’ve either written a blogpost in support of Liberal 308, or added one of the Liberal 308 button logos that have been created for that purpose over at the Facebook group.

We’ve added the various buttons over here at the bottom of this blogpost for those bloggers who support the initiative but who aren’t Facebook members to be able to download them and then put them on their blog or website. If you need help figuring out how to put these on your sidebar or elsewhere on your blog, send an email to the site, and we’ll get back to you with some technical help. (And let us know if/when you put up one of the buttons so we can add you to our list of bloggers who support this initiative).

Some interesting parallels with Dean/Obama 50 state strategy and the proposed Liberal 308 strategy.

This is a very timely op-ed over at CNN about how Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean’s “50 state strategy” plan was attacked by some of the the Democratic strategists and  politicians – as was Obama’s decision to adapt it for his presidential campaign – as pie in the sky thinking, but how they were vindicated:

Dean’s insistence on having a Democratic Party that existed in the heartland, and not just California, New York and Massachusetts, was brilliant in that it made clear that the party recognized the rest of America…If Democrats are going to achieve success on the national level, they must have significant enthusiasm on the local level. It’s hard to get your supporters ginned up for a national campaign if they see no infrastructure, especially local get-out-the-vote operations.

Gee, does that sound familiar to anyone up here north of the border? If you’re in the Liberal party of Canada, it should. If it doesn’t, then you didn’t pay very good attention this past election campaign. There were other problems as well, which we all know about and that will get touched on in later posts, but in too many ridings, it appeared that GOTV was non-existent.

From a personal standpoint, I can tell you I was up in Guelph during the by-election before it got cancelled, and I can tell you that the team of Frank Valeriote had a very impressive ground-game, and enthused local volunteers. It was probably that ground-game that allowed him to resist the blue tide in SW Ontario on election night – but in far too many other ridings, it appears a lot of that was missing.

The article goes on to talk about Obama’s adoption of the 50 state strategy, and how this decision too was derided by the so-called strategists – but how he too – with the help of Dean – was correct in pursuing it:

When Obama announced that he was implementing a 50-state strategy, he was laughed at. But here we are with six days left in the campaign and the Republicans are having to spend precious dollars on ads in Montana, North Carolina, Virginia, Missouri, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada, GOP locks in past elections…changing the attitude among the nation’s Democrats was also vital, and that’s where Dean played a role. The former governor of Vermont saw firsthand the sorry shape of the party when he ran for president in 2004. Republicans, led by Karl Rove, perfected their voter registration efforts, targeting voters down to the neighborhood, block and household. They knew that to win they needed a well-oiled machine that wasn’t activated every four years; it needed to be active all year round and in every election cycle. So Dean put the people and resources behind substantial voter efforts in a number of states, and they went about rebuilding a crippled party that had no central voter registration effort, an outdated database of supporters, a fundraising arm that heavily relied on trial attorneys and Hollywood types, and a message that changed depending on the day.

Again, does this sound and look familiar, Liberals? Again, if it doesn’t, I’m not sure what you were seeing, because it seems pretty similar to the state of the LPC right at the moment.

The editorial concludes with this line: Old pols always said that all politics is local, and the only way for a revitalized Democratic Party to expand its reach nationally is by re-branding the party on the home front. That takes time, money and leadership, and Howard Dean was willing to put his money where his mouth is.

This question should also be asked by the party members of the LPC: which Liberal leadership candidate and supporters will not only be dedicated to the reforms structurally and organizationally that are badly needed in the Liberal Party, but also be willing to put their money where their mouth is, as well as the dedication and persistence and courage to do so when some in the LPC hierarchy may resist this and also call it “pie in the sky” thinking?

Who will endorse and implement the Canadian version of Dean’s plan here? Whether you call it Liberal 308, or “10 + 3”, I believe (and I think many of our supporters believe)  it needs to be done sooner rather then later. Grand vague statements of being for “renewal” are fine. Citing specifics for what type of renewal you want and how you go about it are better, and of course, actions speak louder then words.

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(cross-posted at Scott’s Diatribes)

Some thoughts on the Liberal Leadership Race as it pertains to Liberal 308.

A few thoughts from me (me being Scott, one of the admins at the Liberal 308 Facebook Group, and general blogging geek, which many of you will know if you read the Canadian blogosphere)  on the start of this leadership campaign to pass along to you folks, since we’ve seen Frank Mckenna announce yesterday that he wouldn’t be entering into the race,  while on the same day, Dominic Leblanc announced he was officially running.

Folks who generally support this initiative may be wondering if we’re going to be endorsing anyone. At the moment, the answer is no; the main purpose of this group RIGHT NOW is about developing long-term strategies for Liberal Party renewal.

At some future point, that may change, but for now, we’re here to try and get the upper echelon of the party – including those who are leadership candidates – to pay attention that many grassroots Liberals are saying enough is enough, and that real institutional and structural reforms are needed for the LPC to be more in touch with its grassroots members,  as well as having what I keep calling the “10 + 3” strategy that will allow Liberals to compete in every province and territory.

All that being said, if any of the LPC candidates for leadership come out with a plan in their platform to do some much needed restructuring and reforms, or even if they acknowledge that reforms and a change in strategy is badly needed, I think its safe to say we at the website and at the Facebook group  will certainly point that out and give credit where it’s due.

-Scott

P.S. I note that in our poll question we posted asking  what you folks want the Liberal 308 logo at the site to look like, the 2nd choice is narrowly beating out the current one. I think we’ll keep the voting ongoing until the end of the week and go with the democratic will of the Liberal 308 users 🙂

Visionaries

In the words of Drew Adamick, 2008 federal candidate for Cariboo–Prince George, “There is one clear message that the Liberal Party must take from this past election: We must rebuild ourselves.

No longer can we blame the media for our failures. No longer can we blame other parties for taking away support that we did not earn. No longer can we expect victory to be handed to us on a silver platter.

We need to rebuild and renew the Liberal Party and Liberalism in Canada. Liberal 308 is a pilot project for this renewal.

What does Liberal 308 mean? It means that we must build and active and involved Liberal presence in ALL 308 ridings across Canada. It means that we must reach out to the Liberal grassroots for effective fundraising and policy development. It means we must change our attitudes of the past and set the framework for future Liberal victories.

The next few months will be one of reflection, and hopefully rebirth of the Liberal Party.

This weblog will hopefully be the site of transparent, respectful, rigorous discussion on the issues we care about as Liberals. Feel free to comment and leave an email address to add yourself to the mix! There are a couple of stipulations, which are listed on the About page. Really read these.

What’s becoming more and more impressed upon me with each new initiative is that a Liberal effort is a team effort, so, add yourselves to the mailing list.

Warmest Regards,

Clara Chang, Westmount Ville-Marie