01.15.2012 11:35 AM

Wasn’t that a Party?

Heading out of Ottawa, which this morning – like yesterday – was about a billion degrees below zero. And, Your Honour, I verily swear that this post was not written as I drove my VW back to TeeDot.

Here are some impressions of the weekend, which is worth what you pay for them:

1. It was a very, very successful convention. Though just a boring old policy convention, and though it was virtually impossible to travel to Ottawa in the Arctic-like temperatures, 3300 Liberals showed up. That is 2000 more delegates than the Official Opposition party had at their recent policy convention, and a 1000 more than the government’s party had at theirs. By any standard, that is a huge success.

2. After his speech on Friday night, many Liberals – from across the country – were asking if Dalton McGuinty could ever be persuaded to run for federal Liberal leader. I told them what I believe is the truth: he’s just been re-elected to a historic third term, and that’s the job he’s going to do. That said, I too was energized by his speech, which reminded me quite a bit of the speech given to the Democratic party convention in 2004 by a certain young senator from Illinois.

3. On the policy front, I was pleased (even though I am a republican) to see the resolution about severing ties to the monarchy sidelined. I was unhappy (as a democrat) about the ridiculous decision to empower just anybody to vote for the next Liberal leader. I foresee special interest groups (such as the homophobic, anti-choice groups which were very active in seizing control of riding associations in the 1990s) attempting to manipulate the situation to their advantage – and/or Conservatives and New Democrats flooding the leadership selection process to rally behind the weakest choice.

4. It was wonderful to see how many young Liberals were in attendance and active – as well as the large number of people who told me it was the first time they had ever attended a political convention. Its these people who will make the Liberal Party of Canada relevant again.

5. Contrary to what I predicted Sheila Copps didn’t win the presidency. Congratulations to Mike Crawley. Here’s hoping he learns from the mistakes of his predecessors Apps and LeDrew – and that he doesn’t interpret this as a license to bring back the bad old days of 2003-06.


  1. frmr disgruntled Con now happy Lib says:

    The resolution to allow “supporters” to choose the next leader will come around to bite us on the ass……

    As a monarchist, I was very pleased with the defeat of the young Libs resolution…..but thought the passage of the resolution to allow the legalization of marijuana was brilliant…

    Now just awaiting word who will be our new prez…..

  2. Bobby says:

    Well, I’m also concerned about the change in the rules of voting. Any corporation shareholder with voting privileges will have to show his certificate in order to vote for the Board. And so should we. One of the obstacles for Romney in South Caroline is exactly that, the open vote and the fear that many democrats will go and vote there and influence a change. Mr. Harper is a very astute politician committed to at least relegate the LPC to the back burner, because the LPC has the power to unite people against his policies (the ones he’ll enact very soon). Mr. Harper had a vision about how to hold to power, and he was responsible of pumping up Jack Layton because he knew what many of us knew about Layton and the NDP support. Harper did cash twice bidding on Layton because the LPC represents no opposition at this point and the NDP is fracturing and coming down in pieces and as the support behind the NDP is fracturing, Harper will cash once more. Now, if we as Liberals keep the eye on the ball, Harper will be forced to enact a lot of non popular measures and that will slow down his administration and we may be facing an election much earlier than expected. In my opinion, Mr. Rae presence in the Party is more damaging than the parachuting of Mr. Ignatieff. But you have to ask yourself what is Mr. Rae doing in the Liberal Party of Canada, why is he there and is he acting for himself? Lets fast forward the clock four years and you tell me what opposition will present the NDP? None, because will have no support. The support and the popular vote will be behind the LPC, and then and only then, the true Rae will pay Mr. Harper dividends. How many Liberals will move their vote to a moderate conservative, instead of voting for Mr. Rae. And I do not blame the failure on Mr. Rae, but in those groups running behind the scenes. There should be people in the Party with the courage of face those manipulators and stop them or either get rid of them all together, but instead what we have? A free ride for anyone coming from outside with his buddies to parachute in the middle of an election and do what the NDP know how to do best, as soon as they see a Parade, they position themselves at the helm and pretend to be the leaders. Good try. Didn’t work. Yet. But it may. (Now, I must apologize for my poor command of English and I hope everyone can catch the idea)

  3. MCBellecourt says:

    Congrats to Mike Crawley.

    I have mixed feelings about the vote for leader system they voted in, it could too easily become corrupted. The resolution to make marijuana legalization part of their policy platform, though, is long overdue and a wise decision, for reasons I need not repeat.

    This is more than just about the Liberal Party, though, guys, this is about what kind of Canada we want in the not-so-distant future. Many US states are effectively calling the Conservatives’ crime bill an expensive folly, and the threat to universal medicare is very, very real.
    Whosoever wins the leadership will need us to stand behind him or her 100%, regardless of personal feelings or past transgressions, real and/or imagined. That will be the time to bury old rusty hatchets and unite as a party and as a future Government. We can no longer afford to let personal differences taint the rebuilding effort.

    We wil all need to be ready to fight against the Conservative propaganda machine. Without that unity, the Liberal Party will fall and so will the Canada we were proud to call home. It is no less than that.

    Canada is ailing, folks. The need for an indomitable, strong, solid, UNITED Liberal Party will be the medicine needed by the time 2015 rolls around.

  4. Scott Ross says:

    There were 3300 delegates at the convention, yet only 1800 voted in the Constitution amendment process. I can say with some certainty there were only 1800 real Liberal delegates and the rest were signed up for by presidential candidates, this is verified in the fact that 97% of all delegates voted in the executive election.

    So Liberals can take pride that we had so many delegates, but it’s superficial. We won’t get better if we keep fooling ourselves.

    • james Smith says:

      I’ve been to a few of these over the years & you’re right, some attend for just one or two reasons. What you see with the turnout numbers on the process items I would guess is pretty much the norm.

    • SaM says:

      NOt true at all.

      1800 ( and it was actually more like 1950 votes) on constitutional matters is a huge number. Not every delegate attends conventions to participate in those debates. Some prefer the policy sessions others the hallway networking.

      This was a huge huge success.

  5. Jim Hanna says:


    Great running into you at Darcy McGee’s. Totally agree about the supporter class voting for leader; I think that will haunt us one day (it seems no one wanted to listen to the actual experience in Alberta).

    But this was honestly the best convention since the one I went to in 1994…getting more delegates out than the NDP and Conservatives combined, awesome…

  6. pedro says:

    Completely agree about the “supporters” — I don’t think that the burden of purchasing a part membership is so high that we can’t ask people to at least sign up and pay a nominal fee before voting on who the next leader is. It also prevents opponents from signing up en masse to conspire to select a weak leader, at least they can’t without giving some money to the part at least.

    Though I don’t believe it to be a hugely important issue to the party Warren, I’m surprised you managed not to mention the resolution to legalize & regulate marijuana. I’m personally concerned at Bob Rae’s lukewarm response to this — do you think that there’s a way the next leader of the party can ignore 77% support for a resolution like this? I understand that the party also endorsed the leader’s right to veto any policy resolution, but I feel that this one is too widely supported for any legitimate leader to veto. I’m very proud of the Liberals for coming out today as a party to advocate for correcting our ridiculous marijuana laws. It’s the right thing to do, and has been for decades.

    • Jim Hanna says:

      I’m as worried about leadership organzied signing up people en masse. Back in the early ’80s, when organizers would bus in gentleman from the homeless missions, all the parties took steps to make sure that this things wouldn’ happen, that members had to, for example, pay their own membership (with all the money floating around the last Liberal leadership, the one thing we were forbidden from doing was paying the membership)…well now, thats gone, and the leadership will be handed to whoever gets the best organizers who can sigh up and deliver “supporters”…

      As for the Rae’s reaction to the marijuana resolution – did you hear his closing speech? I wouldn’t call that luke warm, he completely embraced it. Helped that a cop with 30 years of experience spoke for the resolution, mind you…

  7. bza says:

    The one comment I would have about attendance numbers is that the importance of showing people the liberals ‘aren’t dead’ encouraged more people to come out. I skipped out on the NDP convention myself in Vancouver since I was heading there later in the summer and couldn’t afford to fly to Vancouver twice. I’ll also skip out on the Leadership convention in Toronto since I can vote online. They would have been be nice to attend, but it’s not exactly do or die. If the fate of the NDP was in jeopardy perhaps I would try to get there and what not.

    • sharonapple88 says:

      There was a major policy change for the NDP during their Vancouver convention — to get rid of socialism from their constitution. This might have been a good enough reason to vote — for or against.

      But you missed another good reason to go to a convention. They’re damn fun.

  8. JH says:

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the missing numbers on the policy votes. There’s always the too busy ‘getting drunk and getting laid’ aspect to these affairs amongst delegates and the press as well. Overall pretty successful I’d say, but would have liked to have gotten a clearer idea about the leadership race, and more discussion of potential candidates.

  9. Jim Hanna says:

    OBBack in May, when we discussed moving the leadership to a later date, the naysayers were saying that this sort of convention would be impossible because it would become a battleground for the leadership, and that the executive always represents the leader and the presidencey and other table officers would be a proxy fight…etc.

    The rest of us said, we need a break, and we need a convention free of leadership crap. So while it would have been nice in a way, what you are saying – I think that the success of this convention as an experience, was it was the first one in a long time where leadership played little to know role – it was about the members taking back the party. We will have time for the leadership, we needed to have this convention first, and it was tremendous

  10. Marc L says:

    As an outsider, all I can say is wow — you really don`t seem to need much to call this a success. On the plus side, Sheila was defeated, which at least gives me some hope that we’ll see the Party renew itself. But really, the Liberal Party still has no coherent program, and no real views on key challenges that are likely to face Canada over the next few years (weak productivity, and ageing population, the oil sands and environmental responsibility etc) The only real policy proposal: legalize marijuana!!! THAT is all you could come up with? That’s where the Liberal Party would want to use its resources (because make no mistake about it…this would require a battle on the level of the adoption of the FTA in 1988 — and for what?)?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *