10.14.2011 07:09 AM

Not dead yet (updated)

Sorry, I ain’t buying it. Rumours of our death have been greatly prognosticated, etc.

The very folks saying the Lib brand is dead said the same thing about the Conservative brand in 1993. They were wrong then, they’re wrong now.

I’ll have more to say about this on CBC radio tomorrow morning (don’t ask me which program, however – it was me and Jim Armour with Brent Bambury, but God knows what show/time it’ll be on). But, in the meantime, I’ll simply note that everyone said Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals were goners, too.

Guess we weren’t.

UPDATE: Man, you guys are fast.  A regular has told me the show I was on was Day Six, and a clip of one of my exchanges with Jim is found here. If I sound pissed off about the Conservatives’ ongoing flirtations with racism and homophobia, it’s because I was.


  1. WDM says:

    Yep, too early to start burying the party just yet. But, in my view, they need to see the rationale between pounding the pavement in places like Alberta, Saskatchewan and rural areas of the country (not to mention the need to rebuild in Quebec and Ontario – at least at the federal level, as well). A decade ago the notion the NDP would be the dominant party in Quebec, and the Conservatives would be a major player in Toronto at the federal level, would have been laughed at. But, to their credit, those parties did the advance work, for years not just during an election campaign, and made inroads. Obviously other factors came into play that benefited theses parties (any successful party needs a bit of luck on their side). It will probably take the same amount of time at least for the Liberals to hope to make any sort of inroads in some of these places, but that’s the task ahead of them. In addition, they should sit down, read the 2011 platform and decide what they believe in and what they aren’t particularly attached too. The NDP talked about things like ATM fees for years, and mostly got laughed at. I’m not suggesting the NDP won because of this promise, but being willing to say the same thing about certain issues for 8 years gave Layton, whether one agreed with him or not, a lot of credibility with the voters.

    • The Doctor says:

      Per your first point, one way of expressing the current difference between the LPC and its opponents: the CPC (especially) and the NDP behave like parties who are genuinely interested in getting elected EVERYWHERE, including places where they don’t currently have seats and haven’t for some time; the LPC is not behaving that way IMO.

      • Pete says:

        They ran 308 candidates in the last election out of 308 ridings. Doesn’t sound too local too me.

        • The Doctor says:

          There’s a big difference between running a candidate and actually trying to win — like expending resources, doing a concerted candidate search to get good – or ideally “star” candidates, etc. E.g., the LPC shows no signs of making a truly serious effort to make a breakthrough in Alberta. In fact, they behave like they don’t give a flying f*ck if they ever win a seat there.

  2. Ted H says:

    Young blood must have its course, lad, And every dog his day. [1863 C. Kingsley Water Babies ii.]

  3. Lance says:

    On the national scene, the “Conservative brand” didn’t die, because it was reincarnated into something else. It was able to do this because it had a soul, some spark that was able to keep it going and it was thus born into something else at least a little similar to the previous body. The trouble for the Liberal Party is that nothing has changed, there is nothing there to bring them back to life, their soul is withering away, and thus there is nothing to reincarnate into; the vessel, as it were, is empty. Maybe if they were able to possess another healthier body (*cough cough* the NDP) before it is too late they have a shot. But as it stands, they are just withering away into the ether.

    I wouldn’t be looking to what happened in Ontario as any form of comfort. The latest effort by the Ontario Liberal Party in their greatly reduced government in Ontario is just more of the same, in part, to what happened to their federal cousins. The only thing lacking is for the PCs to have an epiphany like Conservatives did on the national level. Then the game will be over there as well.

  4. Norbert Stanley says:


    If there was any doubt the media operate as a pack or a pride, we are once again witnessing it….again, it was Hebert ( full paying member of the anti liberal brigade), next is Maher with his assessment and now Delacourt ( probably the most decent journo in Ottawa)

    There will be more, it’s like they meet at Martini Ranch and map out the narrative for the week.

    Who knows what will become of the Party, some of us hope for the best, but i do know that many many people are still interested in pitch`n in to revive it…..

  5. Heaney says:

    You were part of as big and fast a turnaround as most of us can remember, so here’s to you. You didn’t make Hudak recruit/accept hard rightists or cause his poor judgment, but you made sure he paid full price for that. So bask. Now that you’re back on to the LPC, you’ll doubtles find yourself up against two parties less prone to such mistakes.

    • Warren says:

      Thanks, but Harper’s “hat trick” error cost Hudak big time – it cost him seats.

      Harper doesn’t scare me, and whomever ends up leading the NDP doesn’t, either.

    • frmr disgruntled Con now happy Lib says:

      Its the same mind-set running the show in the Federal Conservative and Ontario Progressive Conservative parties, thats why the Liberal victory in Ontario pleased me so……it bodes well for the next federal election…..and it just shows what happens, time and time again, when a Conservative election campaign starts to go south, they circle their wagons and fire inwards….
      Stock Day, Harper snatching defeat from the jaws of victory against Martin….
      Mr. Harper is not infallible, as Mr. Kinsella has pointed out…

  6. Transplanted Doerite says:

    I don’t know Warren.

    Provincially the brand is dead in AB, SK, MB. The BC Liberal party is Liberal in name only. Quebec is Quebec.

    That leaves ON and the Atlantic provinces. The NDP are in power in NS. They made historic gains in NFLD (at the expense of the Libs). The Libs just got turfed out after one term (which never happens apparently) in NB.

    If not dead, certainly dying.

    • Sean says:

      Oh please… Winning is winning. If they weren’t Liberals, they wouldn’t call themselves Liberals. Forming governments in Canada’s three largest provinces is nothing to sneeze at.

      • Rick Thomson says:

        The Liberals in BC are a mixed bag, more to the right of centre than left centre. Not really Liberals but more Conservative. So really that leaves only two provinces that the Libs form the government.

  7. Annie says:

    Yes I agree that the top fellows, most of them will run he Party into the ground, that is why we need a President who is worthy, one that can lift the Party right up, so we feel more like New Liberals, or Grits

  8. Ed says:

    I’m framing this response Gord.

  9. Ted H says:

    Less than 40% of Canadians support the right wing. More than 60% support a centrist, problem solving, progressive approach to running the country.

    Nature abhors a vacuum and something will rise up to meet the political needs of this majority, Liberal, NDP, a combination of both or something new, it is just a matter of time.

  10. Tiger says:

    The centre-left isn’t dead yet. It’ll thrive as long as there are Canadians who believe in social democracy.

    Is the Liberal Party in its current state? Maybe.

    Something from the left will win government sometime in the next decade. Whether it’s the Liberals, the New Democrats, or the Liberal Democrats — we’ll see.

  11. A. Cynic says:

    This is for Real Liberals – before you take heed to any of the Monday morning quarter-backers, MSM & from the naysayers, please take a few minutes & READ this article.

    I also find it strange that so many claim to know whats going on in the LPC. Why not ask the members? Every time the Cons do something stupid (seems like a daily occurrence these days), we get a batch of new members signing up. Ask the LPC how many new members have signed up since the election.

  12. Wannabeapiper says:

    There is a change a comin. This Occupy Wall Street and it’s Canadian equivalent maybe titanic. Will it spin off a new Political Party or will it be good for the Liberals? What do you think Jedi Master?

    • Warren says:

      It’s good, in the sense that it addresses the gulf between rich and poor.

      It’s bad, in that it signals the growing gulf between young people and democracy (ie. voting).

      • Robbie says:

        Warren, you and I may disagree on matters of public policy and differ in our political party choices. However, there is one thing I think that all who offer comment on your blog can agree on, and that is the very real problem of the “growing gulf between young people and democracy (i.e voting). It is worrisome to me to see a continued decline in voter turnout and participation at all levels: municipal, provincial, and federal.

        Is anyone writing on this subject? Any good books to read? As I have stated before here, I am concerned for the health of our democratic process. How can those disengaged be motivated to engage in the democratic process is a matter for all, regardless of our partisan stripe.

      • Pete says:

        WK, we need some form of “social media” voting for our youth to become involved. People under 30 live on the internet and government should start making plans for them to vote that way. The technology is there and so are the voters.

      • CQ says:

        Whatever happened to all that University ‘Rock the Vote’ talk of last Spring? Instead we get this Tent City Community College tomorrow.

      • Sean says:

        exactly… I’m going to suggest something that will be very unpopular, but its the dammed truth…. This isn’t the fault of the media, big business, politicians, or the system. It is the fault of my own selfish generation, which does not understand that politics isn’t about YOU, its about your community. Today’s under 40 crowd, is far too interested in finding fault, rather than being part of the solution.

  13. Wannabeapiper says:

    Thank you for your insight. My instincts, as inaccurate as they usually are, suggests that maybe the young will take more direct action now re: voting and lobbying and the political movement in general. I kind a hope this happens. It seems to me this is a very visceral movement of the ‘have nots’ and the ‘great left out’ and others who lobby for those who can’t. Once they overcome inertia and rev up, they might achieve so much momentum that it will precipitate political leadership. Maybe the Libs should pay attention to this. Anyway what do I know of such things!

    I hope you will comment on this further at future dates. It will also be interesting to see how the Police handle this stuff, I hope it doesn’t get G20ish and the anarchists stay home with their cheesies and video games.

    Keep the faith-you are a good lad.

    • allegra fortissima says:

      The Occupy Wall Street movement doesn’t promote political or religious ideas. There is no violence. There are no party banners or union badges. The participants protest against corruption and corporate greed – worldwide. I don’t know whether all this will result in more political engagement from citizens, only the future will tell. Interesting, that not only the “young” are heading to the streets. Those protesters include a wide range of citizens: the employed, the unemployed, the self-employed, students, pensioners, housewives, they are all engaged, and peacefully.

      Interesting discussion (and some very harsh comments) between Chris Hedges and Kevin O’Leary:


      • Wannabeapiper says:

        “No violence and no party banners or union badges”, yet.
        But these are the things from which leadership and political parties are often created. Lets see what happens.
        Doesn’t look like a ‘flash-in-the-pan” movement at the moment. So this could be the awakening of a sleeping giant. I am not sure what, if any, the goals of this movement are.
        We may be at the dawn of a revolution depending on their tenacity of purpose and ability to sustain and build activism.

  14. Patricia Morfee says:

    As a long time Liberal voter, I would like to add my two cents to the discussion. My husband a former NDP supporter, now Liberal voter and I in the last two weeks have applied and paid for a membership in the Liberal party, first time for both of us. We also made a contribution to the Liberal party. Although we are in our sixties, we do not like the direction Canada is taking as an uncaring, each to themselves, country. We have travelled to other countries and have always been greeted as a caring people. Things seem to be changing and we would like it to stop being so divisive. The Ontario election was appalling in its anti immigrant and homophobic slant. We have become disgusted with the narrow minded ideology. While we are still capable of doing so, we will fight against this.

    • frmr disgruntled Con now happy Lib says:

      I left my former party for many of the same reasons, but also because of the Cons lack of concern/ignorance on environmental issues….I am pleased to read your post, and if I may be so indulgent…….welcome aboard!……

    • Granny says:

      We just got our new Liberal cards in the mail today and signed up for a contribution. My husband and I (I’m 66 and he is 73) are, I quess, bucking the trend here in our new home of Alberta. We are very concerned to see the astro turf, corporate shill, Tea party, with their Beer parlour wisdom and Pub logic encroaching on our country’s politics. We are tired of ignorance, greed and bigotry being glorified. Tired of lies being considered an opinion. Real history (not Disney history) has been ignored. Doesn’t anyone know or remember just what it cost to gain our Canadian rights and freedoms in the first place? Doesn’t anyone care how quickly it can be eroded ? Doesn’t anyone care that the country is being run into the ground, financially (if your gullible enough to actually believe it isn’t I know a lovely orange bridge I can sell you)? Doesn’t anyone care enough to fight this twisted, narrow minded ideology ? Yes, I fully realize that no Party is perfect and dishonest individuals can take advantage of opportunities afforded them. That is not the fault of everyone in the Party, other than more attention should be paid to what is going on. No Party is immune to that problem. No Party that humans belong to. But this has gone way, way beyond that. We don`t want this country to turn into “every man, woman and child for themselves, and the greediest person wins“

  15. Tim says:

    Uh the conservative brand did die, the PC brand that is…then they rebranded a few times before almost branding as CRAP, but ultimately branding as the Conservative Party of Canada. Warren, do you not call for a rebranding yourself by advocating a merger with the NDP? Surely they’re not going to jump on board if you keep the same name.

    • Warren says:

      The NDP leadership has said no, and so has the LPC leadership. The idea is dead.

      Get ready for successive CPC majorities.

      • Tim says:

        I’ve wrote this on here before. Don’t merge with them, at least officially. Find some way to hold primaries where the ridings decide who will compete for the seat before the general election. The two parties agree not to compete with one another based on the primary results and then they don’t waste money in ridings they don’t have a chance in. Then govern with a coalition. The voters will buy it, as the Liberals and the NDP represent the values of the majority of Canadians. Harper can’t come out chanting “they’ll make a deal with the separatists” anymore.

        Obviously the primaries are going to produce results where one party will have no or little chance of governing, based on their inability to field a full slate of candidates, but in my mind that’s because they were destined to lose anyway.

        There’s also the leadership factor. The Grits and the NDP need to come forward with some strong likeable personalities. Mulcair is probably the best bet for the NDP since he has Quebec roots. He’ll have to tame his 9/11 conspiracy rhetoric though. The Liberals, ugh..I dunno, feels like a talent vacuum. Maybe you should run? Actually that’s not a bad idea the more I think about it… 🙂

      • Alex says:

        I don’t buy this analysis that there is a fundamental political realignment taking place in the country and that we will be ruled by Harperites for the next few decades. From my perspective, the question is not, “why did Harper win a majority in 2011,” but rather, “why did he not win more seats?” Imagine if the Tories had a leader with Jack Layton’s charisma, in that scenario the Tories would have won a massive majority akin to Brian Mulroney’s victory in 1984. Instead, they had to fight tooth and nail for a victory that should have been overwhelmingly theirs from the start.

        I am convinced that the vast majority of Canadians (including a good percentage of those who vote Conservative) do not like Stephen Harper personally. But if given a choice between an unstable minority government in difficult economic times, versus a stable majority that will see us through the next few years, then they will choose the latter. If the ballot question ever becomes a referendum on whether voters like Harper per se, however, then the Tories are cooked.

          • Pete says:

            Alex, I think you will soon see that minority government in tough economic times would have been best for the Country. These current reformatorts have a very dicey approach to the subject;they could care less about recessions and jobless numbers although they give it some face time to make it appear they are interested. They simply want to have government run through their model ideology and economics do not enter the picture until election time when they again will put up the facade.

        • Michael Radan says:

          I remember in 1984 when Mulroney won the largest ever majority in Canadian history there was talk of the demise of the Liberal Party, and how they would never win another election. The pundits were all falling over themselves to explain how Mulroney had crafted the perfect alliance of Westerners, and Quebec Nationalists. And that the PCs were set to become the natural governing party of Canada.

          We all know how that turned out.

  16. Bil Huk says:

    Liberals are not dead, but they’d be well served to work like they almost are.

    i still see supporters talking about waiting for their opponents to screw up and if we had the right leader we wouldn’t be in this mess.

    if that’s anywhere NEAR the attitude of the party masters then all these articles are probably right.

    i know from talking to old friends that are still involved that there’s alot of confidence on the part of the conservatives, but FAR from the attitude that the liberals are nothing to be concerned about anymore.

    with nothing to back it up, i frankly think this Harper ‘error’ of mentioning the hat trick was on purpose and not by accident, to mitigate the eventual backlash if every level of government was conservative.

    • frmr disgruntled Con now happy Lib says:

      Liberals constant search for a “messiah” makes me cringe……they tried it with Michaeal Ignatieff, and I keep hearing about Frank McKenna…..Justin Trudeau has finally put the messiah rumours to bed(for now) as he wants to(admirably) spend more time with his family.
      We need a leader with charisma, sure, but to think that one person can make this party a winner again is folly. The only way the LPOC is going to rejuvenate itself is if we get off our collective asses and work for it……

      • David_M says:

        Well, ‘messiahs’ aside, a good communicator will be essential.
        And if a good communicator with TV friendly presense is selected, media pundits like Herbert will be moaning how we’re trying to put up a messiah anyway.

        (Dave’s 2 cents)

  17. Sean says:

    Diefenbaker: Totally unelectable
    Chretien: Yesterday’s man
    Clinton: Too scandalous
    Bush: Too stupid
    McGuinty: Everyone remember the “Dump Dalton” campaign in 1999? I sure do.
    Harper: see Diefenbaker

    • Pete says:

      Your Diefenbaker comment reminds me that his very poorly run and scandal plagued government gave way to the Pearson minority government which was very productive for five years giving way to Trudeau.

      Harper will go down the same way. I beleive we Libs can come back and form government next election if we work our buns off.

      • frmr disgruntled Con now happy Lib says:

        Well said Pete……the recent Ontario election shows what can happen when Liberals work their buns off(and have WK running the warm room)…..I have to tell you the last federal election, I got the impression the party was “calling it in”…
        Though I liked Michael Ignatieff, he really didnt inspire(anyone who watched Jean Chretien speak at Ken Drydens pull out the stops rally shortly before the election could see how M. Chretien in a short five minute speech lit up the crowd) I saw Mr. Ignatieff speak live a number of times, and to be frank I always came away underwhelmed…
        If the party really is serious about reform, and we have a charismatic leader, I believe your prediction can and will come true….

      • TofKW says:

        “I beleive we Libs can come back and form government next election if we work our buns off.”

        Sorry, but any LPC members who still think this way are living in a dream world. Here is the harsh reality of today’s political reality:

        – There is a 0% chance – yes that’s zero percent chance – that the Liberals will win government in the 2015 election, minority or majority.

        – There is a 10% chance the Liberals could regain official opposition status after 2015.

        – There is a 20% chance the Liberals could prop up the NDP (either in an official coalition or more informally) to form an NDP-lead government after 2015.

        – There is a 10% chance the NDP may win government outright in 2015 and won’t need the LPC (most likely a minority, unless the CPC really screws up & the Dipper’s new leader really connects with the electorate, then even an NDP majority is possible).

        – There is a 60% chance that the CPC will win again in 2015, strong minority or majority, with or without Harper as leader, and regardless of whatever scandals or economic calamities come about over the next 4 years. The CPC is NOW that entrenched thanks to their domination of the HOC, the senate, fundraising, the media, and soon the supreme court.

        Liberals need to understand rebuilding is a long marathon now. DO NOT think you can just find a dynamic leader and win government again. Even with a determined and renewed federal Liberal party lead by a charismatic new leader that connects with the electorate …you may just become official opposition again in 2015 – if you’re lucky. It took Layton how many elections to get the NDP to where they are now?

        However all my numbers are off if the political dynamic changes between now and 2015. Like, say, if the west becomes upset with the CPC and forms Reform Party v2.0; or the LPC and NDP merge. Either/or scenario would change everything.

  18. Wannabeapiper says:

    Bay Street-POWER TO THE PEOPLE-the occupation has begun this morning. Hey there’s Sid Ryan.

    No Tories in sight……………

  19. David_M says:

    Good interview Warren.
    I like the way you made Jim eat Hudak’s homophobic pamphlet.

  20. JStanton says:

    … “not dead”, and this is why:


    Here are men of substance. If we were to take the same snap-shot of current Conservative “personalities”, how many Prime Ministers would we see?


  21. James Curran says:

    Well, let’s have a look at who will be leading the renewal charge. For president we have someone who was part of the most devisive fight in the history of the Liberal party and then all but disappeared for three years running against someone who was in charge of ONtario liberals for three straight defeats and declining membership in successive years. Everyone old is new again in the Liberal party. Maybe you can talk LeDrew into running again W.

    What’s that old saying: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Same old names, same old ideas (or lack thereof).

  22. Gord, your first paragraph about the Liberal elites still running the party rings true. Very true, sadly. You’re right on the money. Same old, same old….but I have to say that your second paragraph about the NDP is bonkers. And I am not an NDP voter. You paint Canada’s NDP as radical Maoist baby-eaters. Not quite. The NDP’ers are social democrats. Moderate leftists. If the NDP sticks to the direction Jack Layton was moving in, they will be a viable force in Canadian politics for years to come.

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