Saturday, January 14, 2012

Thoughts on Liberal Party of Canada during their 2012 convention

Federal political news this weekend is focused on the Liberal party convention, as expected. They are speaking of renewal, having been pushed to 3'rd party in the house during the last election.

Since I was voting age I've been a member of the Progressive Conservative party of Canada and Green Party of Canada, donated money to individual NDP MPs and campaigns, and voted Liberal. There are things I agree and disagree with each of the parties with seats in the house, and there are individual MPs I respect and some I don't that are not dependant on party lines.

I believe that the Liberal party, as it was in the past, will no longer work. If their intention is to regain what they once had, they have no future.

They focused on trying to build their Big Red Tent, inviting everyone inside. There was nothing other than their tribal colours that could be said about this group. They had people that crossed nearly all political philosophies. This meant you had to focus on the individual MPs to see if you could stand that individual, knowing that this likely back-bench MP wouldn't have sway if the leadership of the party headed in another direction. You really had no idea what you were voting for, or if your vote would end up contradicting your own political beliefs.

The party became very arrogant, and there are still people from that mindset steering the party. Likely the most arrogant MP I ever met in person (see list if curious) was Sheila Copps. I met her in person in the context of the Minister's Forum on Copyright, April 4th, 2003, when she was Heritage Minister. She had very superficial ideas on the impact of copyright on creators, creativity and innovation. She would walk away and/or argue with anyone who had any depth to their thinking. I observed her speaking on other policy in other forums, and she seemed to carry this unjustified arrogance with her there as well.

I feel that Sheila Copps is a representative of what went wrong with the Liberal Party of Canada. This weekend the party will be electing a president, and Sheila Copps is one of the top contenders. I believe it will be telling of whether they will be a backward facing party without a future, or a forward facing one recognising the need to change, by who they elect as president.

Ms. Copps is not the only Liberal that I felt ignored the "evidence based policy" thinking that appears to be the theme of this convention. When Copps was pushed out by the Martin Liberals (riding boundary readjustments they said.....), Sam Bulte (Parkdale - High Park) took her place, and when she lost her seat (partly due to controversy with her opposing evidence based policy), Dan McTeague (Pickering - Scarborough East) took over. While they all had ideological positions that lacked evidence on the areas of policy I was most closely watching, it was not an ideological position that was party based or that was consistent with other MPs or representatives of the party. Given some of the least evidence based thinking MPs were Liberals, it made it hard for anyone following these issues to vote Liberal.

Is the focus on "evidence based policy" thinking a recognition that this was lacking in the Liberals in the past, or is this an attempt at a partisan attack another political party? Does the Liberal party recognise its faulty past and are looking to make large changes to become more relevant in the future, or are they looking to regain their past? I'll be watching....

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