Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Liberal Party Cannot Rebuild

The Liberal Party cannot rebuild because the building is still there.

In much of the same way that people in Toronto can't rebuild the CN Tower because it still exists like it did the day before, Liberals can't rebuild the Liberal Party because it is still the same party.

The election of May 2nd was a defeat for the Liberals, but other than losing MPs, the election results have not altered the Liberal Party, it is still the same party. Sure the Leader has stepped down, but the party elite are still the same, the constitution is still the same, and the policies are still the same. And if something is still the same, just like if the CN Tower still standing, how can it be rebuilt?

The rebuilding that Interim Leader Bob Rae, Party President Alfred Apps, and every other Liberal is talking about, implies that they recognized the previous structure was faulty, the problems have been removed, and the party can now start creating a better organization. And that certainly would be rebuilding, if the problems had been removed.

No one would deny the Liberal Party that existed before May 2nd had problems, the election results are a clear indication of that. Now Michael Ignatieff may hold some responsibility for that loss, but considering Stephane Dion had a similar showing, and indeed the party as a whole had been suffering for sometime before, the problems with the Liberal Party run far deeper than its leaders.

If the root of the problem was not the Liberal Leaders, because those have changed and the results haven't, what are the problems that have led to the Liberal Party's long decline? The policies? It can't be, for those have changed drastically as well, from the election platforms of 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2011; the policies have ranged a wide spectrum, but again the results have stayed the same.

With so many variables changing, yet the decline of Liberal support remaining constant, the root of the problem must be then what hasn't changed. What has been just as constant as the party's decline, is those who have been in control of it; the caucus, party officials and the ex officio members.

Suggesting that the anachronistic party elite are the ultimate root of the Liberal Party's declining fortunes is a radical idea, but one that must be considered for they have been the only constant in a party that has seen many changes while its numbers have fallen.

For the executive and organizers, many examples are not needed, most have been on the scene since the difficulties began, pulling the strings to the party's decline. It must be noted, their long tenure began with being drawn into the party, not to change it, but to sustain it. Alfred Apps played a role in Paul Martin's leadership bid as well as backing Michael Ignatieff in 2006 and 2008. Apps like many others within the top levels of the organization did not entirely serve the party in their roles, and to a certain extent only themselves. Using their influence to ensure their candidate won and not the candidate chosen by party members.

The caucus and ex officio members have also been around for a long time and they similarly only rarely bring new ideas, indeed they often merely serve to protect old ones. They, like those few Liberal MPs who are relatively new, represent ridings that are mere patronage appointments that don't require innovative ideas or revolutionary vision. Dominic LeBlanc's long history with the party and his patronage nomination process involving Jean Chretien is a perfect example of that.

Now it may not be as popular as merely spouting the rhetoric of rebuilding, but before any repair is to begin the problems within the Liberal Party must be addressed. The party elites, the caucus, and the ex officio members in being responsible for so many decisions that have led to the party's continued poor showing must be held responsible. The executives and organizers must step down, MPs must look at their contributions to the party beyond just winning a safe riding, and the ex officio members must question whether their opinions are still relevant.

The election of May 2nd was a symptom of a problem and not the cause. We can only rebuild once the problem has been demolished, and that is either up to the party elite, the caucus, and the ex officio members, or it's up to us.

Liberals may continue to suggest we must rebuild, but as long as the same Liberal Party exists, there is nothing to rebuild. Only once the problems have been removed can a new Liberal Party be created.


A Eliz. said...

Yes, I think many at the top should go.... and Apps , I think is gone in January, is he not? How can we get rid of the remainder if their time is not up?

The Mound of Sound said...

Scott, to say that the Liberal Party can't rebuild is as fatuous as to say that a once great hockey team can't rebuild. Of course it can. It works much the same way in politics. You get new, talented leadership and begin to recruit fresh, talented members, both elected and non-elected.

Pearson essentially rebuilt the Liberal Party while he was still in office by bringing in fresh blood - people like Marchand, Lalonde and Trudeau. It's a regenerative process without which a party becomes stale and disconnected from the voting public.

Unfortunately it's been a long time since the Libs had a leader with the inclination and, in fairness, the opportunity to prepare for his succession.

The party needs to find someone of the calibre of Pierre Trudeau, not a namesake. It was Trudeau's youthfulness, his obvious intellect and his ability to connect with the voters, to make them support his vision, that was instrumental in his success. said...

Mound, I think we hold a common view, but diverge on the importance of the leader, or more specifically we differ on the reliance on only one way to save the party ie one new saviour-leader.

Though you don't clearly state it, you imply as it currently exists, the Liberal Party can't rebuild, I agree.

You suggest we need new blood in our elected and non-elected officials, I agree.

We disagree however that we must wait for a leader to do these things.

Executive members can be forced out through democratic processes, party influence or consultations.

Ex Officio members can be thanked for everything they have contributed but history shows it is time for the party to begin anew.

MPs can be asked to consider the future of the party and whether they see themselves offering change or more of the same. They can be asked to possibly consider allowing a new generation, one without patronage appointments or influence to be a part of heading a new, rebuilt Liberal Party.

A Eliz. said...

The new Grits