Thursday, May 05, 2011

Liberal Party renewal: Reponsibility & a Renewal Plan

Responsibility for the failure of May 2 starts at the stop.

And working our way out of the pit our party has fallen into requires a Renewal Unit and a comprehensive Action Plan for Renewal.

What we don't need is simply more of the same stuff that landed us in this mess.

Step One in any renewal process (whether personal or political party), is acceptance of responsibility by those involved in the decisions made that resulted in the need for renewal.

The MPs of the Liberal Party who fought on May 2 faced the voters; almost half were rejected for various reasons. The voters were very clear – they did not want the Liberal Party with its then leadership and policies to have a significant say in how the country was to be run for the next 4 years.

Instead, voters by the millions turned to the right wing and left wing parties, and shunted the so-called big tent party aside.

The MPs who survived now have time to face up to the decisions and policies they and their fallen comrades made, and to remedy what went wrong.

Who is responsible?

But the rejection – and therefore the responsibility – went much deeper. How one earth can any senior / executive officer of the Liberal Party not accept responsibility for the debacle? Just because they were not directly subjected to the wrath of the electorate (and wrath it was, ask any Liberal candidate who went door to door) does not mean they were not equally responsible for the decisions made and policies adopted.

Members of the Liberal Party have the right to expect that all senior / executive officers of the party tender their resignations, and that members be given the right within the near future to choose replacements. If enough vote to re-elect any current officer, good. If not, and we end up with new senior / executive officers, good. That will be the will of the masters of the party, the members.

President Apps is leading us in the wrong direction

The reaction by President Alf Apps is simply not acceptable (see here and here and here and here).

His request that we not seek to blame those responsible for the debacle is the exact wrong thing to do. It is as if shareholders of a company lose money because the value of their shares tanks on the stock exchange, and the board of directors of the company, who made decisions resulting in the market value loss, pipe up and ask shareholders not to apportion blame.

Sorry, Mr Apps. I am a shareholder in the Liberal Party because I am a member, and I want to root out the causes of the failure of the party so that we can start the renewal process with a clean slate.

The election of senior / executive officers should preferably be done by votes by every member of the party. The executive officers would be doing the party a favour to insist on this and to make any changes necessary to make it so.

We lost some fine talent on May 2.

I would like to see some of that talent stand for election as senior / executive officers of the party – people like Gerard Kennedy and Martha Hall Findley come to mind.

Need for a new leader now

As for when we need to choose a new leader, I strongly believe we need a new leader as soon as possible.

The brunt of the work needed to overhaul this creaking, obsolete, undemocratic, nostaligia-driven, policy-challenged, cumbersome, unpopular, out of touch, and ineffective party will need to be lead by, directed by, overseen by, and driven by the leader.

The Renewal Unit & the Action Plan for Renewal

I see the new leader setting up a Renewal Unit, perhaps drawing upon some of the fallen MPs (once again, Kennedy and Findley come to mind) as well as others, with a mandate to come up with an Action Plan for Renewal.

The mandate for the Renewal Unit should be to find out what happened on May 2 and in the election campaign, what went right, what went wrong, what changes to party structure and party policies need to be made, what action plan we need, how it should be implemented, and what timetable we need so that everyone knows what we are aiming, who has responsibility for carrying out defined actions, what the measure of success is, and when they have to be done.

That kind of ruthless, comprehensive, and effective overhauling of a failed operation does not happen if you rely on those who were part of the problem to do things in the same old way.

The Liberal Party clearly needs massive change; ask the ultimate judges – the voters. 

For three successive elections they have chopped around 30 or so MPs from Liberal ranks, reducing to the pitiful number we now have and the lowest percentage of popular vote since 1867.

Next steps:

I expect our senior /  executive officers to do the honourable thing and take responsibility by tendering their resignations, arranging for a proper election process of replacement officers.

I expect our caucus of MPs to select an interim leader (who should also be allowed to run for permanent leadership in December this year) as soon as possible, and to give the order to the interim leader to set up a Renewal Unit and task it with the above mandate.

The Action Plan for Renewal is to be completed in time for and published before the election of the permanent leader in December, so that members of the party can assess the commitment to the Renewal Plan by candidates before voting for the permanent leader.


  1. Alfred Apps needs to resign. If not right away then very, very soon!

  2. Why should the interim leader be allowed to run for permanent leader? Explain yourself.
    Before starting another 'reneweal unit' have you read the Change Commission document? Non stop naving gazing gets tiresome

  3. The Liberal party should talk to E. May, Green party, she is the only one who recognizes that we want change, we want a government responsible to the people, one that respects our money and our values.
    I tend to be right wing but voted Liberal because I do not trust Harper, I do not like the Liberal's plan and I did not want them to have a majority but I would give May a majority

  4. I agree with you 850%
    An interim leader who can act would be the best choice. The only negotiated change to your plan could perhaps be to say this interim leader would not stand for the convention.
    This would clear the way to led Bob Rae do it, make the tough choices and let everyone else run in the clear. If he's in the leadership race then the discussion will be more about optics of the NDP vs liberals rather than what the Liberals need to do.

  5. If you want to "root out the causes of the failure of the party" then you all collectively need to look in the mirror.

    That is, reflect on the 2006 leadership convention and a ponder a few things:
    1) a scant three years after a successful leader and PM is gone, more than half of you thought that the best person to lead the liberal party wasn't even a liberal during that term. That is, add up the combined first ballot votes of Ignatieff, Rae, and Brison and you get 53.6% of you thought that.

    2) It was an open, fair and evenly fought election and you folks decided that 3 people not previously connected to the party - one not even in the country, one from the party of the right and the third from from the party of the left - that this represented the very best Liberals could offer. Never mind the millions who have been voting liberal for decades, you folks thought these three were better representatives of liberalism than anybody else out there.

    2) If the leadership is weak and rudderless and looks for a "messiah", it's only because they are responding to the what's happening on the ground with the rank and file.

    So first, find some principles, then convince others of your principles. You folks either have no principles and/or you believe liberalism has no meaning and/or to be a party liberal is just an exercise in seeking power for its own ends.

    Either way, look in the mirror first.

  6. You must have read my mind! How do we get a message to the Liberal executive brass?


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