Thursday, November 20, 2008

Getting to Know Bob

So I participated in what is now “that infamous bloggers call with Bob Rae” (rundown of the call is below). Rae does gets credit for being what I believe, is the first leadership candidate to officially reach out to Bloggers in this race. I could be wrong, but I believe any Liblog who listed their contact email in their blog profile got an invite. And the invites seem to have gone out AFTER the call was made public in the G&M, which did cause some unnecessary panic in Liblog world. Nonetheless, I’m pretty sure everyone who wanted to attend got to and that’s the important thing. And I have to say the conference call system was pretty effective and unique.

I’m beginning to notice how much blogs get attention - my stats show signs of Macleans, the Star, CBC, amongst others, and I’m sure we blogs are some good lunch time entertainment or a quick research for the media for inspiration, who are always looking for a good (or
pitiful) political fight. So it makes good sense the leadership candidates would reach out to us.

Anyways, Bob did say he would answer my questions that I previously posted (see the questions here), so I am gracious for that. I have gotten a similar response from LeBlanc’s camp as well, so only Iggy remains on that front (I’ll update this post when I hear from them). I’ll still give big props to whoever gets me actual answers first though. Below you will find out what was discussed on the call and Bob’s point of views on the issues.

Bob acknowledges that he has challenges in Ontario, but will be direct and honest on that front, and will prove that he is the right person for the job by talking about all of the experiences that he had the opportunity to participate in to make a difference in this country. He asks us all to pay attention to his Canadian Club presentation tomorrow, where he will dive more into this.

He believes the new Liberal leader and the Party must be physically much more present in all 308 ridings. This will help riding associations, and hopefully reach out to new voters and hopefully members. The party needs a systemic strategy based on where we can find new voters. It is going to take more than a fresh coat of paint for the leader to be able to really say they’re a leader.

Bob wants to support riding associations, and I believe he said that he supports some of the money from the per vote subsidy going to the riding associations so that they can use that to fund their activities and base. He supports the idea of a national, 308 riding strategy.

I really thought Bob got something else really on the nose, and it made me happy to see that people “high up” in the party like him realize that many of our members, perhaps those within it who already hold positions, suffer from “Title-it is”, that is, people want position, power and turf, rather than do the heavy lifting work needed and being an inclusive player in the party trying to build a broader base of support (without needing attention and glory to do it). So true.

Furthermore, the leader must be interested in fundraising and connecting with the public, and know about fundraising. I assume then Bob is inferring he has this expertise and experience fundraising and clearing his debts leadership race? I give credit for Dion for focusing his efforts on this as well.

Bob believes one issue that the Liberal party could have taken greater hold of during the last campaign, and can more in the future, is the issue of high drug costs, which I believe he said is a problem that is growing, particularly in the west. I think this definitely can be an issue we can use, along the lines of how the ndp used texting messaging and AMT fees are issues to mobilize voters. Bob also noted that he economy was the big issue, and while our platform was heavily focused and related in various ways to the economy, but we didn’t place emphasis on these specific economic planks. A party and leader must be able to shift focus in a campaign more effectively he said

Bob notes that the economy will still be an issue for some time to come. As a country, we must think about the future and how we can compete globally. While the Green Shift did focus on this last point, we must work towards the goal, and he doesn’t believe the Green shift can lead us to that goal. We must focus always have an end goal in mind with a strategy to get there and sales pitch to sell our plans. He used the example of Germany, a country known for its automobiles, which now has more jobs in the energy sector.

Lastly, he is in favour of one member, one vote (OMOV). This didn’t surprise me since he said this morning he supports free memberships. But free memberships can be threatening to a riding association, delegate selection meetings, and internal party races as insta-Liberals could play a larger role. Unless there are rules for how long you can be a member to invoke your membership rights and there is a very active join/renewal process or other membership requirements this may prove problematic.

And I have strong concerns about a strict one member, one vote system as I feel that would severely weaken the voices of youth (I believe the YLC officially opposed it last time unless a sub-amendment passed to allocate 25 out of 100 points per riding for youth), women, Aboriginals, and seniors unless there are measures to put in place to ensure their votes would count for a similar proportion to what they currently get in delegate spots. There’s also the concern that Toronto and other urban areas would always end up electing the leader (and the voices of rural areas, Francophone Quebec and the West where our membership numbers are weak would be severely diminished) without an appropriately weighted by riding OMOV system (I believe the proposal at the last convention that was voted down was at least a weighted OMOV system with 100 points given per riding). Personally, I also find something rejuvenating about going to a national convention, meeting Liberals from across the country who love their party and are dedicated, active members who want to be there with you. There may be exceptions (and I realize there are still cost issues), but for the most part I’d say the people who actually go to conventions are more committed on the whole than those who just attend the DSMs on Super Weekend. So one of my questions I’m following up with Bob on is exactly what kind of OMOV system he supports.

So thanks for having us Bob. I understand that LeBlanc will also be holding a conference call sometime soon for Bloggers, so I look forward to that one as well. My contact email is on the right, Dom. Same goes for Iggy if he chooses to do the same, I’ll be there.

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Ted said...

"Rae does gets credit for being what I believe, is the first leadership candidate to officially reach out to Bloggers."

If you are talking about this year, then maybe. But not if you are talking about over time. GK and Dion were very good at reaching out to bloggers and doing so early in the last race. GK and Iggy had by far the largest blogger support, followed by Dion who was quite ahead of Rae who was a bit ahead of the rest of the pack.

So it is very good to see Bob recognizing the internet is important this time. This will be an interesting race.

Danielle Takacs said...

Yes I was referring to this race and I've amended the post appropriately. I know all the candidates in the last race reached out to bloggers, perhaps some more than others, but I wasn't a blogger at that time so I don't know exactly who did what. Though from personal experience I would certainly agree that Dion was excellent in reaching out to bloggers during the past year and a bit that I've been blogging and I'm sure he was doing it well before then.

Matt Guerin said...

I'm a Liberal blogger and my email is listed in my profile on my site - and I didn't receive an invite to this today. Would've been nice.

Anonymous said...

Obviously the Rae campaign reads your blog.

If they do, Rae campaign, is the candidate still in favour of proportional representation?