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"The Liberals shall rise again," says Conrad Black

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Perhaps not now, but down the road I would be extremely surprised to NOT see Justin Trudeau as the leader of the Liberal party.
 

dapaterson

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Larry Strong said:
In my view their classic mistake was to force an unwanted election on us

[Princess Bride]

The most famous of which is "never get involved in a land war in Asia" - but only slightly less well-known is this: "Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line"!

[/Princess Bride]
 

Old Sweat

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Here is an oped piece by Thomas Axworthy from the Toronto Star on the way back for the Liberals. It is reporduced under the Fair Dealing provision of the Copyright Act.


The Liberal Party of Canada is a tough old beast and predictions about its imminent demise are premature. But there can be no gilding of the lily that falling to third place in the 2011 election, with only 34 seats, 68 behind the NDP, and 133 behind the victorious Conservatives, is a monumental defeat. Michael Ignatieff did the honourable thing by taking responsibility for the loss and resigning with speed and grace.

Liberals are still feeling the extent of the carnage, but two central questions have to be answered if the party is to have any future: What went wrong, and what to do?

Explanations abound for so rapid a decline from a majority government, but one essential reason is captured in the question I was asked more than any other in knocking on doors: “What does the Liberal party stand for?” Answering that question is the first step on the road back.

Not so long ago, the Liberal party had a clearly defined and understood mission: the Pearson Liberals gave us the welfare state, the Trudeau Liberals gave us a Constitution with a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the Chrétien-Martin Liberals gave us a balanced budget and financial freedom after decades of deficit spending. There were national projects enjoying a consensus within the party and support from the public.

But after 2000, the Liberal imagination faltered. In government, we created a surplus but didn’t know how to use it for lasting change. In opposition, the party emphasized employment insurance, then education (the passport), then health, then democracy. Ideas have been picked up, given a test run, then if controversial, dropped. Can anyone imagine Pierre Trudeau dropping the Charter because it was unpopular the first time out?

The Conservatives have stayed on a consistent low-tax, less-government message. The NDP has the similar consistency, though opposite in direction — more government and more equity. To succeed, the Liberal party must have the same consistency, which in turn requires hard thought over the long term.

What needs to be done to fix a party that can’t define itself? Ignatieff was right to make democratic governance a central theme, and the Liberals should prove to Canadians that they are sincere by making relevant the one institution they own — the party itself.

Liberal ridings should keep much of the money they raise, an ongoing party think-tank should be created, and the membership as a whole should vote on key strategy or platform issues, not leaving it to the leadership or caucus. For a sick party in a waning democracy, the first rule should be: Physician heal thyself.

Next, the party has to change its strategic focus. As Andrew Jackson once said “Elevate those guns a little lower.”

The self-delusion of “The Government Party” must be thrown in the ashcan. Three straight election defeats should wake up even the most self-satisfied Liberal. The goal of the Liberal party is now to aim for second. It must become the opposition before it can effectively compete for government. It will take at least two elections (maybe more) for the Liberals to again form a federal government.

Here the Liberals can learn from the traditional third party — the NDP. Early in my career, I spent time in the House of Commons listening to David Lewis, leader of the NDP. Lewis argued that his true opponents were the Liberals, not the Conservatives. Over the next four years, issues should be viewed through the prism of whether it will help the Liberal party attract back the progressive base from the NDP. Some argue for union with the NDP — with today’s weakened Liberal party, that would be a surrender, not a merger.

Last, the leadership battle to replace Michael Ignatieff must be placed on hold. The party should appoint an interim leader like Ralph Goodale for the next several years while rethinking policy, reforming its structure and developing a strategy to exploit the weaknesses of the NDP.

The Liberal party’s Renewal Commission, established in 2006, was undercut almost right away when the national executive decided to hold a leadership convention in the same year. Liberals gave up the hard work of renewal in favour of the delights of a leadership fight.

That mistake should not be repeated. The Liberal party needs time for leadership candidates to emerge. Fix the strategy, the policy and the structure, then pick a new leader about a year out from the next election in 2015. This will also have the advantage of giving the Conservatives only a year to demonize the new leader.

Tommy Douglas, the first leader of the NDP, when defeated by the Liberal party in the heyday of the “Big Red Machine” quoted a traditional folksong to his disappointed followers: “I am hurt but I am not slain, I’ll lay me down and bleed awhile, then I’ll rise and fight again.” Douglas’s advice should be a prescription for a Liberal party that now faces the strategic challenge of replacing the NDP as the opposition.

Thomas S. Axworthy, senior distinguished fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs, was principal secretary to prime minister Pierre Trudeau.
 

Cdnleaf

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Old Sweat said:
This story from The Hill Times website is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provision of the Copyright Act. It highlights how a couple of Grits view the election results. The statement by Stephen Clarkson that the NDP has replaced the Liberals as the only national party reveals a certain attitude that has much to do with the Liberal failure, sort of an entitlement attitude. If one looks at the NDP growth outside Quebec, it was hardly spectacular.

Politics a 'blood sport' that Ignatieff didn't understand
Liberal Party's 43-seat loss a 'typhoon,' says Grit Jim Karygianis. 'Unless the leader and everybody else understands that this is a blood sport, the Liberals are going to be wiped off the face of the earth,' he says.

By TIM NAUMETZ
Published May 4, 2011 12:52 AM 
         
PARLIAMENT HILL – The devastated Liberal caucus is meeting next week to come to grips with the unknown territory at the “rump end” of the House of Commons, the scarce resources and money the party will have available to get back on its feet over the next four years, and examine campaign wreckage to determine what led to the Liberal decimation when the electorate shifted like an earthquake in Monday’s election.

Mr. Easter favoured Saskatchewan MP Ralph Goodale, the former finance minister and House leader who won re-election in his Wascana riding in Regina, who was also Mr. Ignatieff's deputy leader, while Mr. Karygianis said he would prefer Bob Rae, the former Ontario NDP premier who won re-election as a Liberal in Toronto Centre, Ont.

:nod:  Great recommendation from Mr. Karygianis - if you support any other party than his own.

060321BobRaec.jpg
 

Retired AF Guy

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Sapplicant said:
... That's like saying that the sun will rise again without specifying which day, or what time. Of course they will!!! Heck, within the next 100 years, the NPD MIGHT even end up rising to the position of opposition  ;D

A quote to die by.

Sorry, couldn't resist it!  ;D
 

Fishbone Jones

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I'm sure the NDP will change the face of daily business in the Commons, but I'll go out on a limb here. I think the Liberals best bet is just to let Canadians watch the shenanigans that ensue when NDP acts like giddy school kids and full attention of the public gets turned to what their actual platform truly is. Now that they will have to stand up and actually start explaining all the stuff they want to push, I think, they will quickly start to disenfranchise a lot of the support that just came on board to punish the Liberals or Bloc. Once they actually listen, I think there's going to be a lot of 'WTF?' happening at 6 o'clock news time.

On another note, I hope the PM yanks the official status from the Bloc and does not do the same thing the Liberals did when the PC was decimated and let them retain party status.


edit - spelling
 

Haletown

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"The devastated Liberal caucus is meeting next week to come to grips with the unknown territory at the “rump end” of the House of Commons"


So they did find an available phone booth near Parliament Hill.
 

Scott

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Conrad who?

:boring:
 

Cdnleaf

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recceguy said:
I'm sure the NDP will change the face of daily business in the Commons, but I'll go out on a limb here. I think the Liberals best bet is just to let Canadians watch the shenanigans that ensue when NDP acts like giddy school kids and full attention of the public gets turned to what their actual platform truly is. Now that they will have to stand up and actually start explaining all the stuff they want to push, I think, they will quickly start to disenfranchise a lot of the support that just came on board to punish the Liberals or Bloc. Once they actually listen, I think there's going to be a lot of 'WTF?' happening at 6 o'clock news time.

On another note, I hope the PM yanks the official status from the Bloc and does not do the same thing the Liberals did when the PC was decimated and let them retain party status.

edit - spelling

Agree with the first part; the political version of 'be the grey man' comes to mind for me for the liberals, sit back / regroup / await the right time to come out.  That's why I had a LMAO moment when I read about potentially nominating Mr. Ray for the leadership position.

IMHO, there's nothing to be gained in yanking official status from the Bloc / the results of the election did that to them; and not worth giving attention to.  Interesting to see if the ADQ comes alive again w/Mario Dumont.
 

ModlrMike

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recceguy said:
I'm sure the NDP will change the face of daily business in the Commons, but I'll go out on a limb here. I think the Liberals best bet is just to let Canadians watch the shenanigans that ensue when NDP acts like giddy school kids and full attention of the public gets turned to what their actual platform truly is.

And so it starts:

Shared with the usual caveats

NDP deputy leader doubts bin Laden photos exist
By Laura Payton, CBC News
Posted: May 4, 2011 6:58 PM ET

The deputy leader of Canada's new Official Opposition party says he doubts the U.S. has photos of Osama bin Laden's dead body.

More at link.
 

Container

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http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2011/05/04/pol-mulcair-osama.html

The NDP doubts that the US has photos and wants a full investigation into the killing. Needing to know if Bin Laden was holdinga weapon or not...... Its been like two days and they are already making my jaw drop. Where is he basing his opinion? Amazing.


*edit* you beat me to it! But Im first with this:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2011/05/04/pol-ndp-brosseau.html

:eek:

"Questions raised about rookie NDP MP's papers"
 

mariomike

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Perhaps the Liberals started slipping in this town when the late Joe Foti stopped hosting his BBQ's. I did a Paid Duty at one ( can't remember the year ) and never saw anything like it. It was in an already congested inner-city neighbourhood, but that did not keep people away. They partied like it was 1999.

Toronto 1999:
"JOE FOTI "THROWS THE BEST BBQ IN CANADA:
The redoubtable Signor Joe Foti has done it again--with a Liberal dose of la dolce vita. On July 24, for the 19th year in a row, he threw a massive backyard BBQ at his four houses on Winona Dr. that attracted a who's who of Liberals from all three levels of government, including Mayor Mel, Defence Minister Art Eggleton and MPP Mike Colle, not to mention an estimated 3,000 of Joe's closest friends, family and fellow paisans from Calabria. On the menu were 500 kg of spicy Italian sausage and an equal amount of Argentine-style sirloin steak, along with copious amounts of salad, pasta, beer and vino rosso. Since moving to Canada after World War II, Foti--today a retired 80-year-old City Hall janitor--has served as a fixer and go-between between Toronto's 500,000 residents of Italian origin and their political representatives. Other notables at the event, which Foti called "the best BBQ in Canada," included CHIN multicultural radio's legendary personality Johnny Lombardi and Honest Ed Mirvish. No slouch at throwing a festa, Mirvish put on a great birthday bash for himself the next day on Markham Street beside his Bloor St. bargain emporium. Mirvish is 84 years young.":
http://www.canadafreepress.com/1999/9906a2.htm
 

Fishbone Jones

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cdnleaf said:
IMHO, there's nothing to be gained in yanking official status from the Bloc / the results of the election did that to them; and not worth giving attention to.  Interesting to see if the ADQ comes alive again w/Mario Dumont.

If they don't have status, they can't join the Leader's Debate(s) in four years, unless the other parties take pity.  ;)
 

Old Sweat

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recceguy said:
If they don't have status, they can't join the Leader's Debate(s) in four years, unless the other parties take pity.  ;)
Lizzy will probably get invited with one MP, so the Bloc will no doubt also appear.
 

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In my mind, they need to understand the importance of intermediate objectives.  They should be focusing on setting the conditions for success for the election in 2019.  The election in 2015 will merely be about securing their final attack position.  By the same token, they need to understand that they need a different type of leader for each of the two campaigns as well.  Part of me wants to burst into their backrooms and shake some people, then brief them on the plan.  The rest me is enticed by the spectacle of them flailing around for 6 or 7 years before they finally get it right.

 

a_majoor

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PPCLI Guy said:
In my mind, they need to understand the importance of intermediate objectives.  They should be focusing on setting the conditions for success for the election in 2019.  The election in 2015 will merely be about securing their final attack position.  By the same token, they need to understand that they need a different type of leader for each of the two campaigns as well.  Part of me wants to burst into their backrooms and shake some people, then brief them on the plan.  The rest me is enticed by the spectacle of them flailing around for 6 or 7 years before they finally get it right.

I'll set up the map board for you. Just make sure we are all wearing our Blue Berets before entering the room, or you'll never get a hearing!  ;D ;D ;D
 

dapaterson

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PPCLI Guy said:
In my mind, they need to understand the importance of intermediate objectives.  They should be focusing on setting the conditions for success for the election in 2019.  The election in 2015 will merely be about securing their final attack position.  By the same token, they need to understand that they need a different type of leader for each of the two campaigns as well.  Part of me wants to burst into their backrooms and shake some people, then brief them on the plan.  The rest me is enticed by the spectacle of them flailing around for 6 or 7 years before they finally get it right.

So they need a Charest for the rebuilding, then a Mackay to bow to the inevitable NDP merger?


 

a_majoor

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Rebuilding the LPC would be an interesting intellectual exercise, but since I have a core small l libertarian set of values it would end in tears...

The first and most important thing any prospective Liberal needs to do is define the core values of "Liberalism" and then work everything outwards to be based on and reflect these core values; however imperfectly.

Conservatives have a fairly easy task; their core values are derived from the Classical Liberal traditions of the enlightenment; Individual Liberty, Rule of Law and the State as the protector of liberty and the provider of Courts of Law to arbitrate disputes.

Socialists also have a relatively easy task; the core ideas of socialism are the State is the arbitrator of production (either directly or indirectly) and the bounty of the state accrues to a group or groups of people defined either by "class" (economic socialism) or ethnicity (national socialism). Other subsets and distinctions exist, but the basic ideas are the core of every form of socialism.

So what should the Liberals stand for? Interesting question.
 

a_majoor

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Another view:

http://phantomobserver.com/blog/?p=9092

Unpleasant Truths For The Liberals

Having looked at the Liblogs page today, I see that quite a few of them are already taking steps in the right direction, talking about the need to renew their party. The thing is, though, I’m not really all that sure that they’ve fully grasped the magnitude of the task ahead of them. I think that, in order for them to get a handle on things, it’s time for them to face what I’d call a few “unpleasant truths,” statements that they’ve so far tiptoed around but that they’re going to have to openly confront, if they want Canadians to truly believe that the Liberal Party of Canada has renewed itself. Here we go:

Unpleasant Truth No. 1: Canada does not need the federal Liberal Party.

Michael Ignatieff, upon his departure, tried to give the impression that four years of contention between the government Tories and the opposition New Democrats would be enough to revive demand for a “centrist” party such as the Liberals. Bear in mind that these are the political instincts of a man who, in 2009, proclaimed that Stephen Harper’s time was up. Harper’s majority today shows that Ignatieff’s instincts weren’t right back then. What would make people think that they’d be right now?

Tom Flanagan’s thesis should not be dismissed by those Liberals calling for renewal: just as the Tories shifted towards what pundits call the political centre, so will Jack Layton’s New Democrats do the same. This leaves precious little room for a political entity trying to claim that they can offer the best of both worlds, because the shifts of either party will make such an entity redundant.

What’s more, anyone trying to use the Liberal Party’s history to suggest that it should continue to exist should bear in mind the examples of the T. Eaton Company, Canadian Airlines (known as CP Air), the Red Green Show, Front Page Challenge, and CBC Radio’s Morningside. Canada has survived the demise of these national institutions, and is doing just fine without them; it can do just fine without the Liberal Party, too.

Unpleasant Truth No. 2: Fixing the Liberal Party’s problems requires a lot more time than most of their members believe.

Most would be tempted to believe that the Liberals have four years to fix themselves. This is based on federal elections law that fixes the date of the next election to be in October 2015.

What they forget: Stephen Harper needed five years — from his ascension to leader of the Canadian Alliance in 2001 — to oust the Liberals from power; he needed another five years to achieve his majority. This required uniting the right-wing parties under one banner, developing a fundraising apparatus, and developing a public profile for both himself and his party, that could resonate with Canadians. It was the work of years, for a man now acknowledged as one of the nation’s most formidable political operatives, as well as other talented, highly-motivated politicians on the Conservative side.

As things stand now, the federal Liberals have even less material to work with than Stephen Harper did in 2001. Their grassroots might hope that this election has cured their senior people of the belief that their mere self-proclamation as Liberals gives them more talent and skill than Stephen Harper and Company, but I doubt it.

Bottom line: while the Liberals might be able to rebuild themselves to the point where they can contest an election in 2015, odds are they’d be nowhere near a position to actually win it. If they really, really want to be a viable party, it’ll take a lot of steady work until at least 2019 — when Jean Chrétien will be 85, and Bob Rae will be 71.

Unpleasant Truth No. 3: A renewing Liberal’s path lies through pain.

I’m not talking about actually blood on the carpets, but harnessing the passions necessary for renewal will require a high degree of bluntness, from everyone with a stake in the party’s existence from grassroots members to whoever becomes the new party president. And we’re talking about the sort of bluntness that punctures inflated egos, smashes emotions, fractures potential alliances and shatters friendships.

When you think about the party’s history since the fall of Paul Martin’s government, you can see that it’s never really been about renewal so much as it’s been about the appearance of renewal. Changes in leadership. Policy announcements. Online engagement. It all looks very pretty but the party’s strifes (such as the Outremont debacle) show that the spirit of true renewal has never really taken root, because its members are too afraid of alienating those who are attached or attracted to the brand. Well, the party simply can’t afford that sort of indirect talk anymore. Which leads to:

Unpleasant Truth No. 4: If you’re not out in the open, you’re hidden.

There’s no getting around this: people need to see the process of a party trying to reform itself, if you’re going to convince them that renewal is happening. If that means dirty laundry gets exposed in the public eye, well, you’ll have to judge for yourselves if that’s a risk worth taking. Just remember that, in this age of the Internet, covering up what’s already been exposed makes everything look worse.

Unpleasant Truth No. 5: Get used to begging.

Yep — fundraising. Pretty much everyone knows by now that the reduced vote means less subsidy money for the party — and, ever since 2008, everyone knows that subsidy’s going to disappear. If the Liberals were smart, they’d have developed a proper fundraising mechanism to kick in when the subsidy ended. Somehow I don’t think the Liberals were that smart — which means people should be expecting a lot of direct mail and telemarketing from the Liberals, in a bid to raise a whack of cash.

There are a lot more “unpleasant truths” that the federal Liberals need to face — things like getting a new leader, for one thing — but if there’s one thing I hope they’ve finally understood, it’s that first one I listed. If the Liberals believe they’ve finally hit rock bottom, they need to remember: as far as Canada is concerned, extinction is always an option.
 
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