|Joyce Murray - Reformer|
Susan Delacourt has an interesting (and must read) article in The Star on Murray and the first debate:
Liberal leadership contender Joyce Murray enters the first debate this weekend with two advantages on her side.
First, the event is being held on the home turf of the Vancouver MP, the only candidate who makes her home west of Ontario.
As well, the nine candidates are due to discuss electoral cooperation with other parties — an issue on which Murray has already staked out some clear ground in favour of strategic, progressive alliances.
In a field crowded with candidates making appeals to the centre-right of the political spectrum, Murray is one of the rare few contenders saying that the Liberals’ future lies in the progressive left.
Murray's Modern Planning Approach for the LPC:
Murray also has a headstart compared to the other 8 candidates when it comes to putting real meat on the now badly emaciated skeleton of the once mighty Liberal Party.
She is cooperating with Matthew Kalkman, author of a 2012 guidebook to rebuilding the progressive, Liberal vision, called New Liberalism.
Murray and Kalkman are calling for a radical reshaping of the Liberal Party, designed to take it by the scruff of the neck and drag it out of the ineffective behaviour of the past decade or so, into the arena now occupied by the best political parties and politicians of the world, such as the Obama Democratic Party:
Murray and Kalkman have co-authored an article, due to be published on Friday, in which they lay out a Liberal agenda focused on long-term planning — everything from sustainable economic and environment policies to investments in education and training.
“We are programmed to think about the next quarter and the next election and not about the next generation,” they write. “Across the board, we have been ignoring our long-term challenges even as they worsen, whether we are talking about the economy, the environment, our social system, or our democracy.”
In an interview this week, Murray said she believes voters want more than a system of politics that doles out “little carrots to specific groups to satisfy their individual interests.”
This approach, treating citizens like consumers of political sales campaigns, keeps politics from tackling long-term challenges, Murray said.
This is a highly intelligent way of approaching the planning inside a political party that
hopes to form the government in 2015.
In our recent elections, we chose an extraordinarily inept way in which to tell our voters what we stood for and why we wanted them to elect our candidates as MPs: We hid our election platform from them.
Why did we do that?
Simply because we feared that if we revealed it, Stephen Harper and his new Tories would bombard the voters with misrepresentations, and perhaps steal the best ideas.
What a debacle!
It was tantamount to the Party asking voters to give them a blank cheque, and voters simply brushed the party aside, punishing it by reducing its MP total to a rump in the low thirties.
The Murray approach is a disciplined, businesslike approach.
You do not run any organization that needs the support of millions of people to survive, by muddling the waters, chopping and changing your products (policies) as the wind changes, and not discussing reasons why choosing you to govern the country is not a wise choice.
It's no wonder so many Canadians just don't know what the Liberal Party stands for.
Murray's Outreach to Progressives:
Another positive feature of the Murray candidacy is her outreach to all the progressive Canadians. As she puts it in Delacourt's article:
“I do see myself as a progressive leader,” she said. Her entire campaign is being organized around an outreach to the roughly 60 per cent of people who didn’t vote Conservative in the last election — not just Liberals, but New Democrats and non-partisan, floating voters as well.
“My job is to help people who have not normally been interested in a particular political party, who are non-partisan, but who are concerned about Canada’s future, to take notice,” said Murray.
I believe that Joyce Murray is a serious contender, and our party and our country would benefit from having someone with her approach as the next prime minister.
So far, about 100,000 Canadians will vote to choose our next leader:
About 100,000 people are eligible to vote in the Liberal leadership race — about 55,000 full party members and another 45,000 who have signed up to be “supporters,” but not card-carrying members. Hundreds of other names are also being amassed by the various leadership campaigns, but the grand total of voters won’t be known until after people have formally registered to cast a ballot.
There is still time for tens of thousands of Canadians, who live in all 308 ridings, who are not signed up members of any other federal party, to join the LPC as Supporters and to vote for meaningful electoral reform in the April LPC leadership election.
If you want to change our country for the better, sign up as a Supporter and vote for a candidate who supports serious electoral reform to our suffering democracy.
The Two Aspects of "Electoral Cooperation:
Tomorrow's debate will for the first time table the topic of electoral reform for public discussion, in a serious way, by candidates for leadership of the party that could form the next government.
The debate topic is described as "electoral cooperation", but really consists for two aspects of cooperation.
Part 1: Pre-election Cooperation
The first is pre-election cooperation – this first surfaced in The Cullen Plan.
Murray favours similar voluntary cooperation by Liberal ridings who wish to work with the other parties in ridings where a Consertive MP sits in the House, in order to ensure that a candidate runs who can win and remove that Tory MP, leading to the replacement of the regressive Harper government come 2015.
This is a contentious subject, and some do not like it.
Justin Trudeau, for example, seems to be heading for the Adams' Power Trap with his shoot from the hip, instanteous rejection of voluntary riding cooperation of the sort recommended by Nathan Cullen and Joyce Murray.
I see no reason why Liberal ridings should not accept the Murray proposal: the objective is to ensure that Harper does not become the Prime Minister in 2015 with less than 50% of the votes cast.
Part 2: Post-election Cooperation on Electoral Reform
The second element of electoral cooperation is post-election cooperation between all parties to remedy the appalling democratic deficit caused by our out of date First Past The Post (FPTP) election system.
The Murray plan is to strike a Royal Commission to examine more democratic methods of electing our MPs, to replace the FPTP system.
My preference would be a commitment now by the LPC to instituting a modified proportional representation system (MPR) immediately after the 2015 election.
However, I recognize that there is merit in Murray's view that nobody has a lock on wisdom, and that a Royal Commission should explore the issue and present the next government with alternative methods to restore democracy to Canada through changes to our electoral system.
Such a Royal Commission would be a wonderful opportunity for the 60% of voters - who time after time, in election after election, and opinion poll after opinion poll, have indicated very loudly and very clearly that they do not want a political party with a minority of support by the voters and a minority of votes in the House being able to rule as if it was a majority government with majority voter support - to give voice to their concerns about our outdated electoral system, and suggest and debate alternatives.
Canadians are well-read, well-educated, and attuned to democratic changes in the world.
They understand that north America's political systems have lagged behind the march of democracy, and that there better ways out there, being used by other modern democracies, that would make very vote count in Canada, and give all major opinions and regions a voice in our Parliament.
Joyce Murray's proposed Royal Commission is a democratic, fair and timely way to go in restoring our democratic rights and giving us a fairer Parliament, that is in tune with the voters and the various regions of this large and underpopulated country.
She should be commended for taking this position.
Just image a vigorous national debate over a period of 6 to 9 months, after the 2015 election, about the merits and demerits of various electoral systems! If you want to engage your citizens in politics, this is one heckuva way to do that!
And the Liberal Party should show that it does indeed listen to the voice of the people, and will restore our Parliament to the people, by adopting her policy of a Royal Commission on electoral reform.
Time for a serious debate:
Murray will start the debate on meaningful electoral reform tomorrow.
Let us hope that the topics for, and questions asked during, all future Liberal leadership debates also allow enough time for this most critical issue to be discussed by the candidates. Let us hear what other regions of Canada think about Murray's idea, and what the other candidates think about our democratic deficits.
It is, in my view, the single most important issue facing our country right now.
A decision to reform our electoral system so as to make very vote count, ensure all regions and all voices are fairly represented in our Parliament, and allow greater cooperation between parties and MPs in our House, will remedy a lot of the abuses and failings we have lived with for more than a decade.