October 31, 2008

Renewal from the Ground Up (Liberal 308 and Beyond)

This past March I began to question, along with many others, the Liberal leadership's willingness to listen to the grassroots. There seemed to be some desire for an election based on the many gaffes made by the Conservatives and the direction they were taking us in. However, none of the upper Liberals would pull the plug. This left many people disillusioned and frustrated with the Liberal Party. Seven months later we now know what that level of discontent meant for the Liberals...

With a dismal turnout at the polls, an immediate stepping down of the leader and supporters still right pissed, the Liberal Party is back to where they started several years ago. Once again we're gearing up for another leadership race, divisions threaten still, and policy and fundraising initiatives are being largely ignored. However, a bright light of sorts is beginning to shine through the fog with the creation of Liberal 308.

Liberal 308's mandate is about real renewal of both the party and its values. It's about rebuilding all 308 local associations, introduce greater accountability to the grassroots with decision making, develop new fundraising initiatives and provide tools that will lead to better election readiness and success.

The party's last shot at renewal was supposed to come after the development of the Red Ribbon Report. The report recommended big changes in policy and outreach. However, after some consideration, I believe the flaw of the report was that all changes were to come top down. It was supposed to be up to the senior Liberals to implement the recommended changes. Liberal 308 is looking to do the opposite. If the party won't make the changes for us, then we'll just have to go to them. That is why a 'movement' such as Liberal 308 is so important. The grassroots cannot afford to any longer hope for the best. If we want to be heard and given regard then we have to force this issue to the front of the agenda.

Last night I had the opportunity to review a proposal from a good friend and fellow Liberal. While he has yet to officially get involved with Liberal 308, the proposal he's looking to present, at the LPC(O) conference in November, essentially addresses the same issues and ideas. His proposal refers making changes in the way associations are supported, how fundraising is conducted and making changes as to how grassroot initiatives are addresses by the central party. While his proposal is about making the initial changes within just Ontario, his hope is that eventually the changes will go national.

What the Liberal Party needs to realize is that while they have not yet become irrelevant, irrelevance is where they are heading. If you're no longer willing to listen and reach out to those that make up the backbone of the party, you can forget ever getting general voters to jump on board. It's no longer good enough to just develop policy and ideas on the spot and ignore the concerns of everyday Canadians. The Liberal Party needs to be open and accountable and be able to present a true vision for Canada. There is a desire for that type of leadership; the leadership that used to course through the Liberal Party. The Conservatives and the NDP have shown they aren't able to take on that role, which means there is an opportunity for the Liberals to get back to where they once were. It will come in the process of renewing the party and reaching out to the grassroots. That is why, more now than ever, grassroot initiatives such as Liberal 308 and the proposal for the LPC(O) are vital.

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Quotes from people smarter than me...

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich" ~ JFK

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. " ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. " ~ Benjamin Franklin

"First it is necessary to stand on your own two feet. But the minute a man finds himself in that position, the next thing he should do is reach out his arms. " ~ Kristin Hunter

"When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans." ~ Jean Chretien

"Which is ideology? Which not? You shall know them by their assertion of truth, their contempt for considered reflection, and their fear of debate." ~ John Ralston Saul

"It is undoubtedly easier to believe in absolutes, follow blindly, mouth received wisdom. But that is self-betrayal." ~ John Ralston Saul

"Everybody dies, Tracey. Someone's carrying a bullet for you right now, doesn't even know it. The trick is to die of old age before it finds you." ~ Cpt. Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly, Episode 12)