Friday, October 30, 2009

Winning Back the Hearts and Minds

Here are the results of the last several federal elections (click on the images for better resolution) across the Canadian electorate from two different lenses (wouldn't it be nice if polls always told us how many respondents actually planned to vote):

I'm hopeful that with Peter Donolo, one of the architects of the last Liberal revival, now put in charge of Michael Ignatieff's office, that a cold hard examination will take place of why the party has lost support over the years, where it went, and just how it can be earned it back, region by region, group by group.

I know that we can't over glamourize the "golden years", but Liberals would be foolish not to take lessons from just how under Jean Chretien they went from even trailing the NDP in the polls at one point to winning a landslide victory. With a focused, disciplined communication strategy based both on the failings of the government and their own concrete plans for the future (and yes a Thinkers Conference in Quebec) Liberals overcame the negative press and slowly built back up their support. By the time the election came Canadians knew what Liberals stood for and Liberals had a clear narrative for the campaign that appealed to a wide section of voters. They started out the campaign behind the governing party, but trounced everyone in the end.

That said, Liberals should recognize that the political climate differs in many fundamental ways now than then. There was no divided right, the PM will be in his 4th campaign vs. Ignatieff's 1st, the global economic crisis has led some voters cut the government slack over the deficit, the unprecedented government self-promotion ad buy, Chretien had 3 years to plan while Ignatieff may only have 5 more months, amongst other factors. Even so, the basic communications strategy from then can be applied to now to reverse the trends in the Liberals' favour.

But the message is just one part of the puzzle, who it is primarily directed to is another. Liberals would be wise to make a concerted effort to rebuild the winning voting coalition of 1993 (with some additions and subtractions here and there).

Many pundits have talked about the need for Liberals to win back women, minorities, and so called "mainstream Canadians" who have drifted off to other parties. This is definitely true, but I do hope it's not lost that it hasn't just been voters leaving to other parties that has cost Liberals support, but also the fact that many of the old supporters have stayed home in droves. A 12% drop in voter turnout since 1993 is nothing to scoff at - there were actually fewer total # of votes cast in 2008 than in 1993 despite the Canadian population growing by over 5.5 million since then. This represents a huge swath of voters that should not be given up on.

The Liberals' 1993 win was not only the best popular vote score the Liberals have received since 1980, but also the last time the winning party in a Canadian election received a larger share of the vote than there were non-voters. Stephen Harper wants to depress voter turnout further. He wants to turn off as many people as possible with relentless negatively and attempts to portray himself as being no different than were the Liberals. If he wins an election with only 20% of registered voters, that's fine by him.

But if Canadians who didn't vote in the last election think the Liberals are not all that different from the government then they'll be staying home again. They need to be convinced their vote would actually make a difference and that Liberals would truly represent their ideals. They need to hear concrete ideas on how the culture in Ottawa that Conservatives poisoned will be really changed for the good.

If Liberals can present themselves as a party unafraid of bold leadership on the issues of the day, and that will provide good honest government, this will provide an excellent contrast with Harper's way of governing.

It's clear that work has already begun to rebuild the winning coalition, but there is much more to do. Many Liberals have put forward ideas/advice in the past (including myself), some of which has already begun to be implemented, and some more practical than others, but no one should be under no illusions just how much work needs to be done both within the party and to broaden its appeal with the general public.

There are many months now to lay the groundwork for a narrative both about the party and for the next election and there will be an excellent chance to showcase the Liberal message and ideas at the Thinker's Conference in Montreal in March. It's going to take some major heavy lifting from the highest to the lowest levels of the party, but Liberals been in worse straights before and came out the other side victorious. I know they can do it again.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Standing Out from the Crowd

The Conservatives' politicization of the distribution of infrastructure funds and government websites is a story that is hitting them hard on one of their biggest weaknesses. But it is not yet a story that is highlighting why the public should trust Liberals to be better. While Canadians across the board will cringe at images like these, many will unfortunately think "a pox on all their houses, I can't trust any of them." Liberals need to reach these people and convince them that they are the only party that will truly put a stop to the nonsense in Ottawa and restore faith in government again. And in fact the Liberals have put the ideas out there to do just that.

Liberals proposed expanding the Gas Tax Transfer program to distribute infrastructure funds. This would have allowed the stimulus funds to be distributed faster and under an already established system of audit, administration and evaluation. Instead, the infrastructure program was completely politicized and the money is distributed with virtually no oversight by comparison.

Conservatives have spent tens of millions on partisan government advertising, while the Liberals have proposed to end the practice by having an independent advisory committee vet all ads.

Conservatives want to spend money recklessly with no one to watch over them, while the Liberals would strengthen the Parliamentary Budget Office's watchdog ability by making it independent.

But the media stories about the Conservative cheque fiasco don't mention any of the Liberal proposals. In fact some lazy reporting has claimed Liberals did the exact same thing (not true) or haven't proposed how they'd do different (also not true). That needs to be changed.

Every time Liberals are hammering the Conservatives for inaction, mismanagement or excessive partisanship they need to also get the message out of what they'd do different.

When they are talking Conservative stonewalling investigations and appalling secrecy, they can highlight the pledge to improve access to information laws.

When they are talking about Conservatives abandoning Canadians abroad they can mention how Liberals have promised to pass legislation ensuring that what happened to Suaad Mohamud would never happen to another Canadian and that, unlike the Conservatives, Liberals don't support having a Canadian child solider in Guantanamo Bay.

When Liberals are criticizing the Conservatives on the environment they should point to the party's plans on clean energy and a cap and trade system with hard caps. How real leadership would benefit Canadians economically and Conservative inaction costs us.

You get the point. But it would great to see in the future any article talking about the latest Conservative scandal having at least a couple lines saying "The Liberals have said if they are elected to government they would....". The Liberals put the ideas out there in many cases, but the bulkk of the media aren't biting. That isn't necessarily the Liberals' fault, but they need to do what they can to address this perhaps by talking up their own proposals more forcefully in press conferences, speeches, or press releases, alongside the sharp critiques of the Conservatives.

Now there are many parts of the next platform that the party doesn't want to reveal before a campaign and that's perfectly understandable (and I agree with that), but in those cases where Liberals slam Conservatives for something and want their counter-proposal(s) kept under wraps, even just a quick sound bite from Michael Ignatieff saying something along the lines of "rest assured, this would never be allowed to happen under our watch!" is worth a lot and would find its way into the media coverage.

When Liberals are just critical it might help to shake votes loose from the Conservatives, but not necessarily driving them back to the Liberals. Pure negativity also risks feeding the narratives spread about the Liberals being a party that opposes, but that has no ideas or identity of its own to distinguish itself from the government.

I know it's tough to get the media and public to pay attention to your ideas when you are in opposition, but Liberals succeeded with this before in the early 90s and I know the party can again.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Government of Canada Quietly Changes Logo

Government of Canada Quietly Changes Logo

OTTAWA - Last night every Canadian government website underwent a small, but quite momentous change. The logo of the Government of Canada appears to have been officially changed in a way that places the imprint of the governing party on it like never before. The "C" in the Canada logo has been altered to be virtually identical to the logo of the Conservative Party of Canada (see above).

The Prime Minister's press secretary Dimitri Soudas tried to play down the significance of the logo change, "It's really just a natural progression for the logo of the Government of Canada, it's only a change of one letter," he said.

Soudas further noted why he felt that the recent uproar about Conservative MP Gerald Keddy presenting a ceremonial Government cheque with the Conservative Party logo on it was overblown. He explained it was simply a case of Keddy mistakenly distributing cheques in this format before the new government logo was officially unveiled. Soudas indicated that, from this point forward, all ceremonial cheques used for government announcements and signing ceremonies will have just the C (that looks identical to the Conservative logo) from the new government logo imprinted on them. "It's just a short-form of the new logo of the Government of Canada so I don't see why anyone would have any problem with that," he said.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney was less guarded in his explanation of the logo change, "Real Canadians are all Conservatives, so this change in logo just reflects that reality," he said.

The change in logo has the political opposition parties fuming. Gerard Kennedy, Liberal Critic for Infrastructure, Cities and Communities, didn't mince words. "This is the most flagrant example of crass partisanship I've seen in my political career. This just goes to prove what we have been saying all along, that the Conservative Party only cares about serving their own interests, not those of Canadians. They can't help but politicize absolutely everything they do," he said

This may only be the beginning of what might be called the "re-branding" of the Government of Canada. Rumours have begun to swirl around Parliament Hill that the Government may soon place the $1 bill back into circulation with a surprising new twist. There's speculation that the new $1 bills would have a picture of Stephen Harper at a piano on them instead of the picture of the Queen that was on the bills when they were last in circulation.

Conservative strategists were buoyed by the positive reception the Prime Minister received for his performance of a classic Beatles tune at the NAC gala recently and it is thought they want to capitalize on this in a major way. Mr. Soudas would not confirm or deny the rumours, but did say that, were the $1 bill ever to go back into circulation, the Government would ensure it came back "in style."

DISCLAIMER: The story above is (of course) NOT real (in case the labels of this post weren't already a give away).

I think we can all agree that no governing party in their right minds would ever tie their party logo to the work of the Government of Canada. That would be outrageous. Right Conservatives ??

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Putting Policy Centre Stage and the Thinkers Conference

Plans are apparently in the works apparently for the Liberals to hold a "thinkers conference" in January modeled on the famous "Kingston conference" that Pearson organized in 1960 and that set the direction of Liberal party policy for many years to come. Obviously this conference will operate much differently than the one almost 50 years ago, but the Liberals stand at a crossroads today similar to then.

Even as a big policy person myself, I don't believe that policies or platforms actually win elections, but narratives do. Whoever has the best story to tell about why they deserve the reins of government and why the other parties don't stands the best chance of coming out on top as long as long as the public buys the narrative.

And bad narratives that you can't shake can certainly lose you elections. Today there seem to be 3 related narratives that are a big drag on our support levels even though to varying degrees they aren't actually true:

1) The Liberals aren't proposing any policy and yet want to be seen as a government in waiting
2) The Liberals don't sound like they'd govern significantly differently from the Conservatives
3) The Liberals don't stand for anything and don't really know what they are about.

Now Michael Ignatieff has been out there proposing policy in broad strokes, and in ads, speeches and Question Period has been saying where the Conservatives have gone wrong and how the Liberals would be different. I understand he's going to give a speech this Tuesday that will give more details on his plans for the environment. These are all good steps. But they haven't been enough to reach the people we need to win over. I've met many non-partisans who believe these three negative narratives in spite of the reality. We need to reach them better.

A "Kingston for our age" as Michael Ignatieff once described it represents an excellent opportunity to reverse the narratives bringing us down and show to the country that unlike Stephen Harper we want to bring the best minds and ideas together to address the big issues of our time. That you can't trust Stephen Harper with our county's future, but you can trust us.

It's not a guaranteed homerun by any means. There needs to still be sufficient Liberal party grassroots input into the conference as there does expert opinions or it could end up being portrayed as an elitist affair. And it can't just be a bunch of "position papers" or "think tank sessions" being presented and everyone goes home with no ideas actually being decided upon or it could be seen as just talking around in circles. Those sessions were worthwhile at the convention, but people will be expecting a lot more from something modeled on the Kingston conference.

When it's over the media and the public should know our overall narrative of what we are about and be able to say it in 10 words or less. And they should know some very specific things we'd do in government. They don't need to know where we stand on every issue, we don't have to give away the whole platform, but put enough on the table that no one can credibly say anymore that we don't have a plan for government or that we wouldn't govern very different from Harper. A similar conference helped Chretien and the Liberals come back from opposition in the early 90's, it can help us now.

If we are worried about ideas being torn to shreds by Conservatives outside a campaign, something that doesn't withstand scrutiny outside the writ could just as easily be slammed during the campaign. There are many directions we can take that the Conservatives won't be able to criticize (and wouldn't adopt either) and that the public (particularly those that have lost faith in all Ottawa politicians) would favour. We shouldn't be afraid to put them forward sooner rather than later.

Waiting till the campaign for any real policy specifics risks the negative narratives feeding a downward cycle that with each drop becomes harder to get out of. We can easily gain back any support we've lost now and it starts with being a party that doesn't just oppose, but also proposes. And getting in that pattern needn't wait till January either, it can start in the weeks ahead right in the House.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely believe we can win back government in the next campaign, but Canadians aren't going to be willing to give it to us until they know and understand why we want it and what we'd do with it. Between now and March our main goal should be to ensure they do.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Facts to Brighten Your Day and the Road Ahead

So it seems that with the election speculation out of the way, many in the media have moved on to the next favourite past time which is obsessing about the latest polls. Since these stories are already getting a bit repetitive, here are some facts it would be nice to see some reporters bear in mind that might just add a little more context to those Liberal "doom and gloom" /"Harper can't be stopped" themes that are being peddled:

1) Liberals fall 2009 meet Conservatives circa fall 2005: The Conservatives started the 2005/06 election campaign farther behind the Liberals in the polls than the Liberals are behind the Conservatives now. NANOS/SES had them down by 15 points (41%-26%) 11 days into the campaign and the Conservatives were still down 10 points even 25 days into the campaign. Remember Harper and Co. did force a Christmas election "no one wanted". Well we know how that campaign turned out and NANOS was by far the most accurate in predicting the final result.

2) Voters are up for grabs right up till E-day: In the last election campaign the Liberals bounced between 21% support to 31% support and Conservatives bounced between 31% to 42%. The Conservatives even led 40% to 21% at one point, only to have the gap narrow to 34%-31% within just one week of E-day (only to see the Conservative lead widen after that infamous CTV interview). So it's safe to say what happens in a campaign influences public support a lot more than anything in between.

3) Massive leads have collapsed in past campaigns: Just ask Paul Martin or David Peterson (who didn't even come away with his own seat in the 1990 Ontario election that was supposed to give him another majority). Even Kim Campbell's PCs started out the 1993 campaign slightly in front of the Liberals (ending with 14% and 2 seats) and John Turner's Liberals led Mulroney's Tories when the 1984 campaign began (and the PCs ended up with 50% of the national vote). Which is why I don't put much value in non-writ polls (or ones any more than a couple weeks before E-day) to begin with.

4) Polling trends still have Liberals gaining seats and everyone else losing them: If you must listen to current polls, then even as the media tell us the Liberals are in deep trouble (and admittedly the Liberals have had a rough couple weeks) if you look at seat projection sites (that don't just rely on one poll), the trend still indicates that the Liberals are likely to win around 100 seats. Every other party is on pace to lose seats.

5) Ontario traditionally doesn't look too fondly upon a party that's dead in Quebec: That isn't registering now, but if E-day is nearing and the Conservatives are looking to lose all (or almost all) their Quebec seats, we will very likely see a shift away from them in Ontario.

6) Stephen Harper's career is still on pace to end with the next campaign: Harper's career depends on winning a majority in the next election and not a single poll since January has shown the Conservatives with the numbers that would actually translate into one (again see 308's projections). Remember Harper has to make up for the collapse of the NDP vote (which always helped the Cons more than anyone) and his horrible numbers in Quebec. If Stephen Harper thought he could win a majority, he'd have forced an election by now. He hasn't and it looks like he won't be. As the media talk about how "Conservative fortunes are on the rise" the Cons are still overall on pace to lose seats. Then we'll see who has the "leadership woes".

7) The NDP are down in the dumps and are truly horrified of facing the voters: As their finances, support levels, and party morale keep sinking, their leader has to explain to his supporters why he has "formed a coalition with Stephen Harper" and given Harper a "de facto majority" (Jack's words, not mine), while endorsing him as our representative at the most important climate change conference ever in Copenhagen in December. Increased NDP support in elections has helped elect a fair number of Conservative MPs as they came up the middle. As the NDP are down to their lowest support levels in many years, it seems we won’t have to worry as much about that next time.

8) Harper can't run from his record forever: Stephen Harper promised us no recession and no deficit and we have had the worst of both. He'll have to finally explain himself about that and so much more come campaign time. I'll give him full credit for his Beatles performance, but that will be ancient history once the writ drops and we will be back to the real issues he'll have to answer for. He won't have a piano to save him at the debates.

9) The Liberals will be looking more and more like an alternative government: Now that we no longer vote with the government, we can oppose their policies in House while simultaneously proposing alternatives or even formal amendments to confidence measures. The NDP would have to oppose popular Liberal alternative proposals and have to explain themselves later. The extremely lazy and false argument that "there's no meaningful differences between Liberals and Conservatives" will fade away with each passing example.

10) Liberals remain in excellent organizational shape for the campaign: The Liberals will go into the next campaign with considerably more money in the bank than last time (to spend $24 million instead of approx. $14.5 million), three times as many members (and likely more), more centralized/streamlined organization, better on the ground operation, excellent voter tracker software we never had before, many new star candidates, and as a party more united (right across the country despite some reporters' spin) than we have been in recent memory.

So some can keep up with their doom and gloom all they want, but it doesn't change these facts that leave Liberals with lots of reasons to hold our heads high. If Stephen Harper wants to believe the Liberals are finished like some (though far from all, to be fair) reporters are spinning, let him, Steve will be in for a surprise when the campaign gets underway.

So where does this leave us?
Are the Liberals experiencing a bit of a downturn lately? Do they still have some problems to deal with? Yes and yes. But as I've said before EVERYTHING must be kept in perspective.

Doesn't mean we should completely ignore the media, put our heads in the sand, and pretend that getting back into power will be easy or that the government will simply defeat itself. But stories and polls like those of the past week can be a blessing in that it reminds us that we must always have our A-game on and that we must act as if we are behind and needing to play catch up (even if we get ahead). We must always have in mind how we are best suited to win the next campaign and keep our eyes focused on gaining back supporters from the Conservatives..

We can't afford to let lazy spin win. We need to do a better job of conveying the strength of our party and our ideas and how we would govern much differently than Stephen Harper. We need to do a better job of reaching out to those middle of the road Canadians who have lost faith in our federal politicians and who opt to stay home at election time. We need to make sure all our messages resonate well outside the Ottawa beltway. We need to do a better job of winning over Western and rural Canadians who abandoned our party long ago.

That work is now well under way and I know it will continue in the months ahead, but it can't for a second be let up.

We now have lots of time it would seem to organize for the next campaign and promote our ideas, party and leader. And when the campaign comes, Michael Ignatieff and the Liberal team will present a strong positive vision for Canada that will put Stephen Harper's pettiness and lack of vision and ideas to shame.

It will be the campaign who will decide who wins.

We may start out from behind but I know we have what it takes to win the hearts and minds of Canadians and give them the government and leadership they deserve.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Study in Contrasts

Liberals: Positive hopeful ads portraying a vision for Canada's future
Conservatives: Negative deceptive ads ranting about a coalition that has been ruled out (as they ally with those same parties themselves) and accusations of Liberals wanting to raise taxes as they raise them themselves.
NDP: Prefers to keep the later in government in return for what their own supporters and MPs call "paltry" and "crumbs". They certainly have a lot of explaining to do.

UPDATE: Speaking of ads and contrasts, Steve calls attention to another:

The Conservative government is spending more than five times as many taxpayer dollars on promoting its economic plan as it is on raising public awareness about the flu pandemic.

The TV spots are just the latest $4-million salvo in a $34-million media blitz trumpeting the Conservative's recession-fighting budget.

Meanwhile, with public health officials fretting over an onrushing fall flu season, the spread of the H1N1 virus and widespread public apathy about the need for vaccination, no television ads are in the works to combat swine flu.

Health Canada's home web page, however, does include a prominent link to the Conservative economic action plan website (

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Congratulations Eric Hoskins!

Queen's Park and St. Paul's are lucky to have him! Eric's final share of the vote at 47.6% stands at even better than Michael Bryant's from 2007 when Dalton McGuinty was returned to office with a larger majority. I understand some pundits argued that this was a referendum on the HST (which in combination with the off-setting PST rebates and income tax cuts actually leaves more money in the pockets of 90% of Ontarians) and was supposed to be an omen for the federal Liberals . Well I have to say I'm now inclined to agree with their analysis and I'd hope these same pundits would too! ;)

Maybe some of those skeptics out there can finally come to terms with the idea that Ontarians actually do happen to appreciate McGuinty's strong leadership on the environment and the economy. Either way, regardless of how you feel about the Ontario Liberal Government, I think we can all agree that Eric Hoskins will make a fabulous MPP for St. Paul's!

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Are Reforms You Call "Paltry" Really Worth the Price?

So apparently the NDP have decided to prop up Stephen Harper till March (as the EI reforms go through committee, 2nd, and 3rd readings) SOLELY in return to what NDP MP Pat Martin flatly calls “paltry improvements to EI.” Well the NDP seem to have quite a sense of priorities because by propping up Harper till March (when he pulls the plug himself and perhaps before these EI reforms even receive royal assent) that means:
- There will be NO MORE significant enhancements to benefits or fixing regional disparities for the hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers NOT covered by the Conservative reforms (the reforms are said to affect at best 60,000 people a year) (so much for helping the little guy)
- Canada will be sending Harper the obstructionist to the most important climate change negotiations in history this December who will go with the goal of torpedoing the whole thing (so much for the environment)
- Canadian citizens will continue to languish in foreign prisons with no help from their government (so much for human rights)
- Government stimulus funds will continue to go predominantly to Conservative held ridings that actually have lower relative unemployment rates (so much for fairness)
- Harper will bring in ever more right-wing legislation knowing you will pass whatever he wants until the EI reforms are passed into law as you are promising (so much for principles)
- Harper gets an election at his preferred time and you will be giving him what you in your own words called a "de facto majority" (so much for electoral strategy)
- Harper will give you no credit for these EI reforms he was already going to do, he will throw in some mockery and more humiliations here and there and you will have no real accomplishments to go to the electorate with in March (so much for pride)

And that's just a short list and it's all so Tom Mulcair can hold his seat a little longer and Jack Layton can hold the NDP leadership a little longer.

When the two of them lose them both as a result of the election Harper triggers post-Olympics, I somehow doubt their supporters will look back on it and think it was all worthwhile. Even though I think the Liberals still stand a good chance of winning then too, it will be after more damage was done to our reputation and finances that will have to be repaired thanks to NDP short-sightedness.

Now these EI reforms that Pat Martin calls paltry are worthwhile, but I'm sure they could have been applied retroactively after an election and are far from all the reforms that should be made or even that the NDP said must be made. And it should have been obvious to the NDP that leaves Harper in office for the next 6 months means NO MORE "results for people" beyond what their own MP said was paltry while having all the negative consequences above and more.

But I guess protecting Jack and Tom matters more. That's really some leadership the NDP have isn't it?

The irony is that by extending the government till March and giving us an election on Harper's terms, IF Harper actually won I wonder if the NDP would even survive to fight the election after that? First chance Harper would get post-election he will cut public financing of political parties, which no doubt will be a big thank you to Jack from Steve for the 6 months or so Jack helped HIM survive.

In the meantime, should the NDP grassroots just fall in line with Layton and Mulcair's wishes and not force them to back down, then we must just resign ourselves to six more months of spiraling deficits, more debt, more unemployment (without any new significant assistance), more division, and no leadership or vision at home or abroad. And then we can get an election exactly when Harper wants.

I think we can do better.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Why the NDP Should Go Now

It seems the NDP is between a rock and a hard place. While I don't feel so much for Jack Layton who helped to put Harper in office in the first place, I do have some sympathy for many NDP supporters who's hearts are often in the right place. So let me just give 10 sincere reasons why it's not in the NDP's interest OR Canada's interest for the NDP to be propping up the Harper government. I hope they are taking these things into consideration before making up their mind.

1) You prop up Harper now, he will pull the plug on himself right after the Olympics with a poll-tested budget with a poison pill or two (elimination of public financing perhaps) anyways. Don't believe me? Harper's strategists let that cat out of the bag months ago, and when Con House Leader Jay Hill's newsletter says: "History has demonstrated that voters are less likely to vote for change and against an incumbent government when feeling patriotic and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics in February will undoubtedly inflame a greater sense of patriotism and excitement across the country", you can rest assured they will do all they can to ensure that's when they get their election. Do you really want to go at the preferred time of the guy you voted against 79 times?

2) A six month reprieve is hardly much new time to fundraise and if opposing the Harper government constantly for almost 4 years didn't bring in new money, you really think propping up this guy your supporters hate will?

3) Playing into Harper's hands increases the risk your party will be killed by the end of public financing. The Liberals have shown they can survive without public financing. Your party clearly can't. If Harper wins the next election, public financing is gone. He'd rather go in March than now. The Liberals could still likely win then too, but why would you help Harper's chances even in the slightest when you know him winning would be the end of your party?

4) You've said yourself again and again, Harper can't be trusted. You will get nothing from him in return for your support he wasn't going to do anyway, because you know even moving an inch towards your real stated priorities would be toxic to his base. If he did give you something that looked like a past NDP priority, it's pretty likely it would die on the order paper when he pulls the plug in March. What would you run on then? "We tried to get results for people, but Stephen Harper fooled us and gave us nothing for the support we gave him." Not really a winner I'd say.

5) Copenhagen. The environment has been a major issue for the NDP for years now. Propping up Stephen Harper means HE will be OUR representative at the most important Climate Change Conference in history this December in Copenhagen. Michael Ignatieff has pledged his support for a REAL cap-and-trade system with absolute caps and a 1990 baseline for emissions targets. He will propose more of what I'm sure the NDP would agree with in the campaign. Isn't it obvious, Ignatieff would bring to Denmark a position that's much more in line with the interests of Canada, not to mention your party as well? The main obstructionists at Bali were Japan, the U.S. and Canada. The U.S. and Japan now take climate change seriously, so that leaves just one hold-out left. One can be enough to significantly undermine whatever consensus based agreement comes out of the conference. Wouldn't the NDP want to see Copenhagen succeed?

6) Putting Your BC Seats at risk. You know all those seats you hold in B.C. where the Conservatives have traditionally finished second? Well just where might Harper's Conservatives' see its greatest boost in support in a post-Olympics election?

7) You throw away your entire message of the last 4 years. So you were the "only party that can truly be counted on to oppose Stephen Harper" and now your message would be "we opposed Stephen Harper until that would actually have consequences and then we folded like a cheap suit". Not sure that would sell. You think after you called Liberals supporting a Conservative budget a "Liberal-Conservative coalition" (which it wasn't) wouldn't make it difficult for you to explain how you haven't just formed a "NDP-Conservative coalition"? Well I don't envy who would ever be left to do the explaining.

8) It doesn't pass the smell test for you to claim now all of a sudden you want to "make Parliament work." You've been voting constantly for new elections for the past 4 years. You think the public has that short of memories or that Stephen Harper won't mock you for it at every turn?

9) The proposed Con EI Reforms are nowhere near what you claimed would be essential needed EI Reforms. As Jeff and Steve note, they do not address eligibility, regional differences or access, and it's very hard to square why would you support these but so vehemently opposed the Conservative budget. You would take EI off the able entirely with a proposal that's nowhere near as comprehensive it should be and doesn't truly help the people you said you were fighting for. That's not the results for people you've been promising. By supporting these reforms WITHOUT asking for SIGNIFICANTLY MORE beyond them, you surrender all credibility on an issue you've fought on for years.

10) You know the only way to get real "results for people" is with a Liberal government. Facts are facts, Jack Layton has more in common with Michael Ignatieff in his views that he does Stephen Harper. You will NOT get a coalition with the Liberals, but at least you could have a government who actually listens to all parties and won't reject a good idea just because it came from a party who Stephen Harper's base calls "crazy socialists". On education, health care, the environment and foreign policy, the NDP can find far more common ground with Liberals than Conservatives.

So you want to actually make a real difference in the lives of Canadians? Let's help give Canadians the government they deserve now. You may worry about losing seats now, but you'd be likely to lose more in March, at least now you can hold on to your credibility and still have a good expectation of influencing policy with a Liberal minority government (something that really boosted your profile the last time).

The NDP deludes itself if they think they'd ever have any clout with a Conservative government.
I and so many others have already stated why it is in Canada's interests to have an election. I know in their heart of hearts, many NDP supporters agree with those same reasons. It's narrow considerations that are getting in the way - the party is broke, Jack Layton wants to keep his leadership position awhile longer, Tom Mulcair wants to keep his seat awhile longer, maybe some others want to save their pensions.

Well that's not good enough for Canadians and I would hope that's not good enough for the grassroots of the NDP either.

Now NDP supporters could flood this post with comments talking about how Liberals were propping up the Conservatives in the past (which I've said before was justifiable) as if that somehow absolves the NDP, but really how does that discussion help us forward?

Let's focus on the future now before any decisions are made: what is in the best long-term interests of your party and your country NDP?

Here's hoping they come to realize that theirs and the country's interests lie with ending Stephen Harper's reign in power now.

UPDATE 10:55 PM: If there was ever any doubt that Harper doesn't intend to embarrass the NDP with each new confidence measure, the actual wording of Friday's Ways and Means Motion should make his intentions pretty clear. You still think you can trust this man NDP? This is your ticket to filling your coffers? To vote for things you've given fiery speeches opposing before? Well get ready, Stephen Harper is just getting started with you.

UPDATE 2 Sept. 15 @ 1:45 PM: "the NDP says an email sent last week to Mr. Giorno by NDP Leader Jack Layton's chief of staff, Anne McGrath, has so far been ignored.
'It is telling. It is their modus operandi,' NDP spokesman Karl Belanger said. 'They don't want to work with other parties and they're trying to minimize the contact with other parties. That's been the case with the Prime Minister and his team since they got into power.' "

But yet seems like you will be supporting them anyway. I'm guessing at this point, Harper could come out and say "I will not speak to the NDP and I will offer them no concessions" and it wouldn't make a bit of difference.

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The Case for Change

As Parliament returned today, so does this blog. And as the Harper government returned to Question Period for another round of evasive non-answers, ask yourself do we really need more of this? What does Stephen Harper have to show for his almost four years in office? Deficits, Debt, Division, Deception and Disarray.

Stephen Harper was so obsessed with banishing "surprise Liberal surpluses" and yet now he wants us to cut him slack for ever rising surprise new Conservative deficits.

Stephen Harper boasted about how much debt he was going to pay down, only to pile up more than had been paid in the last decade.

Stephen Harper said when he was first elected that his he would "govern for all Canadians" only to be the worst wedge politician Canada's ever seen as he writes off 60% of the population completely.

Stephen Harper said he would bring open, honest and accountable government, only to give us the opposite.
He promised us no recession and no deficit and we got the worst of both.
He tried to take credit for the lowest unemployment rate in 33 years, only to blame everyone else but him when he faces the highest.
He railed against Liberal patronage and cronyism and felt compelled to top it.
He promised sincere cooperation on EI this past summer and turned the whole thing into a charade.
He accused the opposition of wanting to raise payroll taxes on EI (which we were told would be a "job killer"), only to do so himself.
That kind of deception is tough to top.

And he's left our country in complete disarray with no vision or long-term domestic or foreign policy goals. Can someone point to anything Stephen Harper has planned for even next year? As every other major industrialized country makes targeted investments and restructures to compete in the global economy, Stephen Harper just puts his head in the sand. Does anyone still listen to Canada with Stephen Harper in power? When Stephen Harper says Canada is "back" under his leadership he must mean back of the pack.

It's really quite the legacy to leave behind and that's just the short list!
Well we needn't let him add to it any longer.

Canadians deserve better.

We face the toughest times in a generation with a Parliament Stephen Harper refuses to make work (Overdue EI Reforms still don't make the grade).

If you give Stephen Harper your hand, rest assured he will do everything he can to tie it behind your back (Jack Layton take note...).

Every day more Harper is in office our potential as a country is further squandered as he obsesses over crushing his opponents instead of governing the nation.

There is little positive to be gained by keeping this government in office any longer. We can do better.

We need a government willing to actually govern and make Parliament work rather than one focused entirely on electioneering and trying to come up with the best "plausible" lies about their opposition.

We need a government willing to lead on the world stage, rather than one that's happy to be a bit player.

We need a government with a team of strong capable ministers, rather than a one-man show who forces the rest into hiding.

We need a government that listens to research and science instead of one driven only be ideology.

We need a government willing to stand up for women's and minority rights and the disabled, instead of one that sees them as "left-wing fringe groups".

We need a government that protects Canadians abroad instead of abandons them.

We need a government that believes in our institutions, from public broadcasting, to the courts, to Elections Canada, rather than a government trying to tear them down.

We need a government that knows we must invest more in post-secondary education, instead of one who mocks those with a university education.

We need a government willing to show real environmental leadership at the largest ever Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December, instead of one that would go with the goal of being the biggest holdout.

We need a government that knows that good child care policy is good economic policy, instead of one that is seemingly proud not to have created a single child care space.

We need a government willing to level with Canadians and give straight answers instead of one that stonewalls and deceives at every turn.

We need a government that's fiscally responsible and has a social conscience to replace one that's neither.

We need a government that's focused on building the Canada of the future to take over from one that can't see beyond the next election.

We need a Prime Minister that unites Canadians rather than divides them.

Only Michael Ignatieff and the Liberal Party can provide this kind of government to Canadians. A Prime Minister and government that provides real vision and leadership we can all be proud of.

A majority of Canadians may say they don't want an election now, but that's because they are not yet convinced an election would change much or that there's no single defining issue. But an election can give us the real debate about our future we didn't get in the last and that we really need as economies restructure across the globe.

Liberals will present a truly alternative compelling vision for this country and Canadians will see we can be so much more than we are.

Stephen Harper was given another chance by Canadians almost a year ago and in every way, he's blown it. The stakes are too high to grant him another reprieve. These tough times demand better.

When Canadians are faced with a choice of positive change and more of the same, the choice will be clear.

Canada needs a new direction and it can't come soon enough.

For more on why we need an election, see here

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Compromise, Patience and Timing Will Get Canadians the Government We Deserve in the End

In the larger picture of things today was a victory for both the Liberal Party and for Canadians. Stephen Harper has badly mismanaged the economy and failed to adequately look after unemployed workers. Once again when his back is against wall, he is forced to bend and at least move in the direction of doing the right thing - he's admitted the EI program needs to fixed to help the self-employed and deal with regional disaparities. By fall there is now a reasonable expectation serious changes will be made. It's not perfect, but an election would not have brought EI changes all that much sooner either and was really not the desired result from our party or Canadians perspectives. The media always says they want to see Parliament work, well in the context of a minority Parliament isn't this how it's supposed to work?

Now was just not the right time for Liberals to go to the polls. We go into an election to win, not because we'd look bad if we didn't. Our cards were played just right, Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals made the Conservatives cave in (Harper knew an election would have ended his career even if he barely eeked out the most seats) and we will get better policy and accounting of the nation's finances as a result. Just as important we will a chance to bring them down in the fall, something I was originally quite skeptical they would give us.

But just think of what the dynamic would have been if we had gotten a summer election. The Conservatives have 143 MPs and dozens more nominated who have been campaigning heavily since the last election in their ridings. I don't know how many candidates we have nominated right now, but my sense is with the exception of our 77 MPs, many candidates were only nominated in the past month or two. In the case of my riding our candidate (former, and soon to be again, MP) Lloyd St. Amand was nominated last night. If there was a summer election that would give these recently nominated candidates very little time to formally campaign in their riding against incumbents. You can't ignore the advantages incumbency affords the Conservatives, having the summer to recruit high profile candidates, and for our already nominated candidates, to become more well known and get some positive press in their ridings, can make a world of difference. In Brant, Lloyd would have won with an election this week I'm sure, but other candidates will certainly benefit from the extra time.

You can say we should have had more of our candidates in place sooner to be ready for summer, but you can't do that while at the same time saying you want a more grassroots based nomination process, and rushing nominations can sometimes lead to a potentially better candidate being excluded. Having a more drawn out nomination process also leads to more Liberal members being recruited in ridings across the country and more money being fundraised at the riding and party level.

I'm hearing some EXTREMELY positive things about our fundraising and membership numbers, more nomination meetings and the summer BBQ circuit are only going to help. Waiting longer to go will probably also lead to more ridings being familiar with Liberalist, our vote-tracking software which will prove key to winning close races.

I think in hindsight we might have been better served to have gone into the last election in May or June 2008, but that still would have been after over 2 years of election preparation - had we gone much sooner than last June we might well have seen a worse result than we actually got. Timing and election readiness are essential to have right. Stephen Harper knows that well, had he waited even a few weeks longer to call an election, I'm certain he would have lost (he received even more luck in timing by the fact that the TSX had two massive rallies the last two days of the campaign, very positive job numbers came out the Friday before voting day and the Dion hatchet job CTV piece came out the day before that). Just a couple weeks after voting day a Nanos Poll had it at 32% (-6%) Conservatives to 30% (+4%) Liberal support. We have to get our timing just right.

The record may show we waited a bit too long to go last time, but if we had gone now, while I do believe we would have won, the risk of the Conservatives still winning more seats than us would have been much higher . We will win more seats in the end by waiting and ensuring our election machine crushes the Conservatives when the time comes.

The only major downside is that while our ideal time may be this fall, it will tough to get the Bloc and NDP onboard with that. But it's hard for either of them to justify voting down the government now and making some side deal with them later just to save themselves from massive seat losses. At the least I don't see either of them supporting the next Conservative budget.

In the end, Conservatives are past the point of no return in Quebec, getting there in
Ontario, and hardly winning over any new supporters with their latest spin and theatrics to try to cover up their terrible record of mismanagement. Even if the economy is recovered by early next year I doubt Canadians will really give Conservatives all that much credit for it and that might actually take the economy off the table as a major issue and move to the wider question of which party represents your values and who can you trust (to improve our international reputation, to improve education and health care, to slay the deficit, etc..) which we will easily outpoll the Conservatives on (and right now we outpoll them on the economy as it is). This government also seems to have new scandals by the day which won't help them much either.

It doesn't change that Harper and the Conservatives have no vision and no plan to move this country forward. Their only progress comes when they are forced into acting. When the election comes our plan will put theirs to shame.

So while I'd like this government gone tomorrow, I'm confident they will be whenever we finally do go to the polls. So with compromise, patience and the right timing we will ensure Canadians get the government they need and deserve.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

A Dollar a Day Until the Conservative Ads Go Away

Stephen Harper's complete failure to read the mood of Canadians in these trying times will be his undoing. Canadians won't buy his latest attempt to distract from his failings and they will demand better. And Liberals aren't sitting idly by as Steve V noted, donations have flooded in since the Cons desperate ad buy hit the air. But I think we can do one better in making sure that the only purpose these ads serve is to fill our coffers. I'm reminded of a donation campaign started awhile ago in the U.S. to create an incentive for Republicans to give up their futile endless court challenges (which are still ongoing) in the race for the Minnesota Senate seat which Al Franken has won. The campaign is called A Dollar A Day to Make Norm Go Away. The idea is you can sign up to make donations of $1 a day that end the minute Norm Coleman finally concedes. The Democratic Party establishment didn't exactly take on this campaign themselves, but that's no reason the Liberal Party can't launch a similar campaign here.

Surely we can set up a recurring donation system equivalent to donating $1 a day (even if that's $30 a month) that ends the month after the Conservative ads go off the air.

What do you think, would you donate a dollar a day until the Conservative ads go away?

In the meantime, you know where to go.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Instant Run-Off Voting Must the Choice of Electoral Reform Advocates

STV and MMP have been dealt essentially lethal blows in BC and Ontario - I think when it boils down to it people felt they were either too complicated, weren't sure how their vote would translate into who got elected, and/or that the system lacked riding level accountability. Canadians for the most part favour incremental change, and moving from First-the-Post to a PR based system may have been too much for electoral reform advocates to ask. It's unfortunate that electoral reform advocates pegged their hopes to provincial referendums when the case for changing the electoral system in any province is not nearly as persuasive as at the national level. In no province where a referendum took place does their provincial electoral system badly inflate regional divides, is leading to perpetual minorities (and elections every two years), and benefits a separatist party more than any other party. Voters like stability and elections every 4 years and the provincial systems have provided that, while the national system no longer does. But optics being what they are, with STV and MMP systems being dealt such overwhelming defeats at the provincial level they are clearly off the table for any national referendum on this issue. The sooner the electoral reform advocates (including Fair Vote) come to this conclusion the better and I say that as someone who would have voted for STV if I lived in BC.

So I would hope that anyone who wants to change our first-past-the-post system nationally (where the need is greatest) can now come behind the idea of holding a referendum on instant run-off voting. This system is extremely simple to explain and would dramatically empower the value of every vote cast in an election. We would still have 308 MPs, everything would be the same, except you would rank your choices for your riding. If someone doesn't have 50% of the vote, then the bottom candidate drops off and the 2nd, 3rd choices are re-distributed and so on until a candidate can legitimately be said to have 50% support in the riding. No more would someone who is the first choice of 35% of voters and the LAST choice of the other 65% be elected (like a good number of Conservative MPs).

PR advocates should realize that would be a major improvement and that were IRV adopted and Canadians liked it, it would at least open the door to national STV one day, but trying to move directly to a PR system would be doomed to failure.

This should also be easy for supporters of all the major parties to get behind. Liberals just overwhelming approved Instant-Run Off voting for our leadership races and the NDP and Conservatives have the same system in place for electing theirs. This is because it would be deemed unacceptable for a leader (and in the Liberal/Conservative case, potential PM) to win with only 35% of the support in a multi-candidate race. So why would we accept less for the election of each of our MPs?

It's also easily applied to the Westminister model of Parliament. Australia has the political system most similar to us and use Instant-Run Off voting to elect their lower house MPs, so why can't we?

The arguments against MMP and STV simply don't apply - it's not complicated whatsoever, it wouldn't lead to Parliamentary instability (Liberal majorities would actually be FAR MORE likely under IRV), and doesn't affect the riding level accountability we have now.

It will also carry many of the same benefits of STV such as enhancing the power of each person's vote (if you really dislike your MP but really like their party, you could register that view through your rankings), giving a voice to those who support smaller parties or independent candidates (no longer would your vote be irrelevant - a Green MP would have likely been elected in Guelph if we had IRV in place), enhancing accountability to constituent's in close ridings (35% will no longer suffice to win), and forcing candidate's to campaign beyond "getting out their base" and avoid negative campaigning so as to ensure they maximize their second choice votes. Just as importantly, no longer would parties come to power with little representation from some regions of the country. It should also increase voter turnout which become more and more abysmal with each national election.

Everyone knows our national electoral system is the source of major national unity problems (regional divides and being the lifeblood of the Bloc Quebecois) and is giving us unstable minorities as far as the eye can see, so the solution isn't to pretend these problems don't exist, it's to do something about it.

Just because provinces where the need for electoral reform wasn't that pressing rejected the idea, is no reason to ignore the problems our national system creates. What exactly are the counter-arguments against IRV other than using the provincial votes as an excuse not to act?

Want to increase the number of western Liberal MPs in future Liberal governments while simultaneously wiping the Bloc Québecois off the political map? Instant-run-off voting would be guaranteed to make it happen.

As the party of national unity here's hoping Michael Ignatieff the Liberals take the lead on this issue. We have to trust the intelligence of Canadians that they can see for themselves that the need for eletoral reform at the national level was always greater than it was at the provincial level.

The next election is very likely to give us a Liberal minority and so might the election after that. That would be 5(!) minorities in a row, something that has never even remotely happened provincially. I of course will be hoping and working for two Liberal majorities, but the math to get there is incredibly difficult so we have to consider what our response be to two more minorities.

We can lead in calling for a national referendum ourselves or have Canadians call for it because they have grown tired of the instability created by the current system. I prefer to see us lead.

Pushing for a national referendum on Intant-Run-Off voting is one clear case where the national interest and Liberal partisan interests are one and the same.

UPDATE: Scott Tribe has similar thoughts, Steve V takes an opposing view to mine

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

LPC Biennial Convention in Videos

I knew I wouldn't get to blog all that much at a convention where I was a busy delegate so to make up for that, I had a less busy delegate video tape much of the proceedings to post here when it was all over. So I've compiled about 30 videos from across the 3 days of the convention for your enjoyment. Some of these (like Stéphane's 7.5 minute speech at the reception to retire his leadership debt) were not broadcast by the media. Though only about half of these are original and the other half are poached from other blogs to make for a more complete collection (source indicated in brackets - to give credit where credit is due those videos look much more professional). I haven't been able to upload all the videos I have yet, so please come back to this post later as there are still some really good speeches and debates that will go up. And within the next few days I will be sure to find the time to give my own thoughts on all the major happenings of the weekend of the Vancouver and maybe some other stuff going on on the Hill.

DAY 1: Thursday April 30th

Council of Presidents

John Turner Speech (BC'er in Toronto)

Michael Ignatieff Speech (WAM0)

DAY 2: Friday, May 1st

Young Liberals of Canada (YLC) Biennial

YLC Presidential Candidate (and now President) Sam Lavoie Speech

YLC Presidential Candidate John Lennard Speech

YLC Representative to the National Women's Liberal Commission (NWLC) Monika Drobnicki Speech

Incoming YLC National Director Keith Torrie speaks to YLC delegates

Outgoing YLC President Cory Pike speaks to YLC delegates

Michael Ignatieff's Speech to YLC Delegates (Jennifer Smith)

Paul Martin Speech to YLC and Aboriginal People's Commission (APC) members

TO BE UPLOADED (This was an excellent speech! Come back later to see it)

Canada and the World Thinktank (WAM0)

Reception for Stéphane Dion to Retire His Leadership Debt

Paddy Torsney (former Burlington MP) and Don Boudria (former Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MP) Introduce Stéphane Dion
(Not sure why but this video is the only one uploaded that ended up being mostly blurry/choppy, but the audio is fine)

Stéphane Dion Gives Speech to Reception Attendees

Party Officer Elections

VP English Candidate (and eventual winner) Steve Kakucha Speech (Liberal Minute)

Convention Opening Ceremonies

Jean Chretien Speech Pt. 1 (WAM0)

Jean Chretien Speech Pt. 2 (WAM0)

Stephane Dion Tribute Video, Part 1

Paul Martin Tribute to Dion (WAM0)

Stephane Dion's Speech at His Tribute Night

DAY 3: Saturday, May 2nd

Voting for Executive Positions Ended at 11 AM

Policy Plenary

Debate on "Removing the Ban on MSM Organ Donation"
(Very pleased to see this pass so overwhelmingly, but was surprised and saddened by some of the things said by those opposed to this policy)

Debate on "Climate change" Policy

Introduction and Vote on "National Water Policy"

Vote on "Human Rights Commission" Policy
(Closest vote of them all)

Constitutional Plenary

Debate on OMOV

TO BE UPLOADED (Will include entire debate from start to finish)

Debate on YLC amendment to ensure all policies put forth by commissions and PTAs are voted on by delegates before going to the floor (watch for a cameo by a famous former blogger)


Debate on YLC amendment to establish an Outreach Secretary on the National Executive

Leader's Speech

Bob Rae Nominates Michael Ignatieff Speech (Jennifer Smith)

Announcement of Results for Leadership Vote

Michael Ignatieff Makes His Entrance

Ignatieff Intro Video (LPC)

Ignatieff Acceptance Speech Pt. 1 (LPC)

Ignatieff Acceptance Speech Pt. 2 (LPC)

Ignatieff Acceptance Speech Pt. 3 (LPC)

Ignatieff Acceptance Speech Pt. 4 (LPC)

New Liberal Party of Canada Logo

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

BC or Bust: Commission Biennials

So I think Liberals woke up yesterday morning, myself included, after getting settled in at the hotel, registered, and saying my hello/what's new's with Liberal friends, and realized that this
convention there are actually a lot of workshops and panels being offered, meaning, there's a bit of work, at least house cleaning to do.

The morning for me started off by seeing the YLC commission biennial and hearing the speeches of mainly the two YLC presidential candidates. I'll hopefully post some video later. The room was packed, the most packed room of all the commission biennials. So the youth, while yes only representing about 12% or so of the delegates, are some
of the most dedicated members of all members in the party, so I do not
begrudge them from them seeking 25% within a weighted-riding OMOV system, which is less than the 33% they get in current convention type events.
Especially considering this very same youth amendment passed last convention, to tell them they couldn't present it again is like
telling someone or a party to give up on a bill that passed 2nd or 3rd reading but died on the order paper.

I then walked into the Senior's commission - I did a quick count and I think there was about 35 people in there. Maybe they forgot about
the meeting and had a "senior's moment" because there are a lot of the
65+ crowd here, I just don't know where they were at that time. Maybe they're a little bit proud and consider themselves to be of "regular membership". The joke I hear about them is that they're a "skeletal
commission" - pun intended I don't know, that's up for you to decide. I believe in commissions and their purpose, but it's sad to see them not utilized to their full potential, especially when their numbers are there.

I was then off to the Women's Commission biennial. I didn't expect much conflict or negativity from that one - there were some common sense proposals on the floor and a panel scheduled, but I was in for a big surprise. There was some new updates to the NWLC commission on the floor, and I didn't think they were going to cause debate or controversy, but indeed they did. So much so, that that part of the proceedings went 1.5 hours over time, much to the dislike of the next workshop attendees. And even still, we were not able to discuss the meat and potatoes of the biennial as it took so long to discuss the appetizer.

I was quite disappointed in the attitude of some of the attendees, very clique-like among of those who were against the amendments on the table. After debate to one of the NWLC constitutional amendments was finished, and the vote was being conducted, these individuals stared down those voting in favour of it, and yelled out "Shame! Shame on all of you! You're taking away representation of the provinces!?" (in reality, we were proposing to keep the provincial women's commission presidents, and add additional regional representatives with 6 task based positions (VP Policy, VP Org, etc) - every province would have still have strong rep at the table via their provincial women's commission ).

The proposal didn't have 2/3 support (it had 65% - so close!), so it failed, and I guess in support of it failing, these women who voted it down left the room. So now the NWLC will remain with an exec of the national President, all the provincial commission Presidents, and 6 additional regional representatives (one from each designated region).

The NWLC is very effective as a commission and very supportive of women candidates and promoting women in politics, but for some of these ladies, time to get our act together, treat each other with a bit of respectful boundaries. Am I supposed to feel "shameful" for having an opinion and voting on it? Thanks for making me feel like my
voice mattered or that I was intelligent enough to grasp the issues like you clearly were.

There is a lot of events/workshops taking place, and for a convention that is seen as "only 2 days" perhaps we could have had 3 to space things out a bit more and to give us the opportunity to attend everything and not feel so rushed.

One thing I would like to attend but may not have the time, is attending the much hyped Liberalist (voter software) info session.
This is the new technology program that will be used across the party, across the country via ridings from the party. Some people are
hopeful, some people are doubtful. I'd just like to see for myself, even though it will be a demo and can't make a realistic impression -to judge for myself - to see if there is perhaps the magic there that we are hoping for. We all know we need better comms if we want to compete with the CPC.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

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BC or bust: attendance/policy thoughts and night one

So I heard that the word on the street last night - literally the word on the street - was that the Liberals had a pretty sad turn out to this event (I heard 1700 by that point). The media line was that no
one really cared - there is no leader choices, there is only about 3 exec positions contested, the location was pretty far for most of the
delegates (coming from Ont, Quebec, NS, etc.) and some people have honestly just thrown interest away in this convention as they feel that the policy was removed from this policy conference.

On the policy process there were some obvious problems with the way the policies got here - by a riding President vote that followed after
a "non-binding" vote on En Famille of whatever Liberal members happened to have an account. In reality, most people just don't care
enough to get engaged on En Famille (and some provinces are totally underrepresented), either they're not computer literate, feel its not
perfected or the debate never ends as every day someone will say the opposite of your point. As well, Liberal members didn't get a binding vote on what resolutions would be here, authors didn't hear if their policy was blended with others, authors didn't hear what happened with their policies, etc. Bottom line is, whatever you hear, most people aren't on En Famille - they may have an account, but some have never used it. So I think the policy process will need to be done a lot different next time around. There's an amendment on the floor Saturday at least that would ensure that it would be delegate workshops and not
riding President votes that would determine which policies would get to the convention floor.

I felt last night was a perfectly good opportunity for the Liberal Convention to kick off the 11 o'clock news. However, the Liberals did
have to compete with some pretty stiff competition. Instead, the 11 o'clock news kicked off with the Canuck's Round 2 victory.

Ok so on with the night's events:
Who ever decided to have a hospitality suite at the Lion's Gate pub and advertise it, was out of their mind! It was advertised in the
agenda that there was a Liberal meet & greet there at 8pm, and yet there was no room. They had a capacity of 150, and yet we know we
have at least 1700 delegates. Maybe they thought the majority was youth under 19 lol.

I also didn't quite understand what was up with the Equal Voice Experience Program social. I didn't see any prizes as was advertised,
and it was just like going to a restaurant as for any occasion. We got to pick our table, and got menus, and a bill. Didn't they just get
$1.2 million from the government and they're trying to find ways to
spend it? My martini cost $15! Very worthwhile program and I'm a
strong supporter of the organization, but to be frank the event was a let down.

I also made my way off to some of the youth hospitality suites which were fun enough to meet my expectations.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tonight on E-Talk: Ben Mulroney Previews His Upcoming Career as a Liberal MP!

So I hear a crazy rumour that Ben Mulroney may soon run for federal office, and under the Liberals no less! So crazy, this rumour may actually be true. I mean, it's no secret that there are divisions within the Conservative Party, between Harper loyalists and Mulroney loyalists. So getting Ben to run for the Liberals would be like a shot of tequila for the Liberals - the end result is a nice buzz, but the burn goes down hard, but it will signal a bigger burn to the Tories!

I had a vision last night of what we might hear from Ben in the House of Commons in Question Period, if he does run and win, based on his career experiences.

Here's just a good number, but feel free to add your own. Some may seen a bit repetitive or lame, but don't blame me because aren't all E-Talk interviews just regurgitated soft-ball questions? So if people thought this was a silly below for what we may look forward to from a potential party star...

1. Mr. Speaker, Canadians want to know, which Canadian designer is the Prime Minister going to wear down our red carpet, on this year's final session of the House of Common's "Question Period"?

2. Mr. Speaker, will the Prime Minister tell us what his favourite thing is about being Prime Minister?

3. Mr. Speaker, will the Prime Minister tell us what it's like to work in
Canada compared to say, elsewhere?

4. Mr. Speaker, will the Prime Minister tell us how much he loves working in Canada?

5. Mr. Speaker, will the Prime Minister tell us what his favourite Canadian vacation spot is?

6. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to know what Prime Minister Harper did to
prepare for his role as "Sweater-vested friend" in the film, 2008 Federal Election.

7. Mr. Speaker, will the Prime Minister tell us what his favourite hot-spot is in Canada?

8. Mr. Speaker, will the Prime Minister tell us how he finds the Canadian fans - I mean voters - are responding to his latest movie - I mean budget?

9. Mr. Speaker, will the Prime Minister tell us when he will appoint William Shatner to the Senate so I can interview him for a Thursday night Special and host a documentary on his epic struggle from actor, senator and to Governor General hopeful.

10. Mr. Speaker, recently, Canada's favourite celebrity blogger, Perez Hilton, asked Miss California, the lovely Carrie Prejean, if every US state should legalize same sex marriage and why. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to ask the Prime Minister the same question about what he thinks our neighbous in the south should do so I can go back on E-Talk to give my outraged response to his answer!

11. Mr. Speaker, will the Prime Minister tell us what is favourite CBC films are, and how he feels they differ from CTV ones?

12. Mr. Speaker, will the Prime Minister tell us what it's like to be a celebrity, er, I mean politician - a Canadian politician - on the world stage?

13. Mr. Speaker, can the Prime Minister tell us what his plans are for CTV? Canadians need to know if I'll be able to make a triumphant comeback.

14. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to request that Question Period end early today, so I can go get a facial and manicure, and most likely touch up my roots. (ruled out of order)

15. Mr. Speaker, I'd like ask to the Prime Minister, what it was like get up in front of million of fans and viewers - I mean party supporters and voters - and give his acceptance speech for his role as "Minority Prime Minister: Part Two", and if he is planning a another sequel in the same role? Or will he be dropping out of the role because he knows his third time at it would be a bomb with the public?

And surely he'll get his own time on Don Newman's politics....
Don Newman: And tonight, my guest is the newly elected Liberal MP, Ben Mulroney. Welcome B-- *Ben shoves Don out of the camera shot*
Ben: Thanks Don! That's right, I'm Ben Mulroney - and tonight - on Politics, I'll discuss how I went from law student turned celebrity interviewer, who asks celebrities nonsense questions about Canada, to Liberal MP, all the while, keeping my dashing smile and characteristic, Mulroney hair. But first! Let's go to the studio to get an update of today's top stories, and after the break, we'll be back here with me, Ben Mulroney, where I'll conduct an exclusive interview with our very own, Don Newman, asking him the questions about what we all really want to know: the gossip which goes on behind the political scenes here, on The Hills, I mean, the Hill. *smiles*

Needless to say, it seems our party will have a lot to be proud of, and a lot of preparation work ahead of itself if we do get the pleasure of working with Mulroney Jr., and I'm sure PM Harper can't wait for his questions from him either.

Sure I've typecasted the Mulroney Jr., but I've never heard him say anything about politics before so what else do I have to go on? But who knows maybe he'll surprise and be the next Barack Obama!

Or!!! He could even become the next Liberal leader - up against Justin Trudeau in the leadership race, and it could be Trudeau vs. Mulroney on a whole new, exciting level with the youth wing divided over camps!

And I do suppose it's better that he become a Liberal MP than an NDP a son of a former Mulroney cabinet minister, Robert Layton, did.

Note to Sandy and others who don't like reading post labels (or have no sense of humour), lest I be accused once more of "spreading false information", the questions above are not real questions - duh!

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