05.14.2012 06:43 PM

Third, and fading fast

The Alberta result should remind us all that is foolhardy to read too much into polls, and particularly one poll.  But this depressing result is consistent with a batch of other recent surveys – that the contest is now between the Conservatives and the New Democrats, federally.  And that the once-mighty Liberals don’t factor. At all.

What can we do?  Well, a bunch of things.  I spoke before the annual gathering of Canadian realtors in Ottawa, this morning, and suggested in response to a question that the Liberals’ problems aren’t just about leadership.  The problems are myriad: membership, fundraising, policy, organization, readiness, you name it.

But – without even having seen this poll – I made one other point: Bob Rae has been the leader during the entire period when we languished in third place.  Even against a lightweight like Nicole Turmel, Rae couldn’t make us competitive.

To me, Bob Rae is the wrong choice.  He’s the wrong choice because of his tenure as NDP Premier of Ontario.  And he’s the wrong choice because of his term as interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, too.



  1. Tim Sullivan says:

    I like Bob Rae and I thought he was the best choice when Dion won, and again when Iggy took the leadership (without running). However, I am of the view that we need a youngish leader who will withstand a few election cycles, maybe even 12 yrs before he or she (most like a he) will become PM. Rae lost two leadership contests (even if one of those was unconstitutional, ill-advised and undemocratic), and that says something. What? Not sure, except that my choices have not been the majority’s choice.

    Rae’s leadership of Ontario does not bother me. His sticking around in the face of promising not to, however, is starting to bother me. He has to lead the party until someone else takes over, and he has to make that clear, and make that clear soon.

    Then we need someone who will work his ass off with party policy (given to him, not developed by him), fundraise, and recruit candidates. We need to rid ourselves of the multiple layers of party bureaucracy including the commissions and the provincial wings unless they can prove their value by raising (not costing) money and recruiting candidates.

  2. Philippe says:

    I’m starting to come around to the fact he may be the wrong choice – but the biggest problem from my perspective is I can’t see who is the a better choice. The possible candidates I see now don’t strike me as candidates that would set the world on fire. Depressing: yes.

    • Tim Sullivan says:

      Think outside the box. Why can’t we recruit someone like Mark Carney (while he is not running the world), or Andrew Leslie (maybe past his prime for 2 or 3 elections cycles)?

      Who does WK see on the horizon?

      • Why on earth would Mark Carney EVER give up all he is achieving in his dream jobs. Yes that is jobs. Besides, in case you haven`t noticed he is a conservative.

        • Chris P says:

          Agreed – But nobody knows his political leanings. I actually think he could care less for either the Libs or Cons to be honest.

    • Chris P says:

      This is my issue as well – The rumoured candidates are simply not strong enough and have little to no profile.

  3. WDM says:

    Policy. Policy. Policy. Liberals have forgotten where they’ve from in recent years. They’ve gone from retail policy to retail policy (and Canadians aren’t buying what they’re selling) and abandoned any sort of core identity. People can dislike certain aspects of the Conservative and NDP platforms, but they have core policies and core identities which strike a certain chord with their base. The Liberals don’t have that, and have drifted of late. Without a base, you can’t fund raise, you can’t rally the troops, you can’t ramp up the same machine as your opponents, and you can’t have the same volunteer base on the ground. The Liberals need to decide what they believe in on a wide range of issues and stick to it. If that means little to no improvement in the 2015 election, fine. Run on those beliefs again in 2019. You’re not going to fall ass backwards into power. If,in 2004, the stars aligned exactly the same way for the NDP, the same breakthrough would not have happened. In 2011, they voted NDP because of their respect and admiration for Jack Layton. That respect and admiration didn’t fall out of the sky, it developed over 8 years. It takes time to build credibility and build trust. The Liberals are at ground zero on both fronts right now. There’s no quick fix solution, and they shouldn’t look for one. They’re in more of need of a massive rebuild than any of the Toronto sports teams.

  4. Dan says:

    I think you’re holding Mr. Rae to an unfair standard. The Liberal party has a myriad of problems, as you suggested. There’s lots of hockey teams that fire the coach, but nothing changes, because the team is fundamentally broken.

    For every commentary I see about Liberal fixes to the economy (even horribly misguided ones cribbed from American think tanks), there’s about ten columns devoted to Bob Rae and Justin Trudeau, with a few honorary mentions to Martin, Dion and Ignatieff for historic context.

    I mean… don’t let me stop you guys from taking a huge dump all over Bob Rae. Go ahead. But the more oxygen you guys waste on leadership — which Liberals seem pathologically incapable of stopping — the less oxygen you have for the REAL party rebuilding and organizing.

    • james curran says:

      There is no rebuilding. There’s never been an intent for organizing either. At least not in the eyes of the LPCO. In Ontario, if you organize for the Liberal Party of Canada, you’re a threat to the placeholders. They don’t want people that can actually DO anything. Not to worry though, those people are long gone or fading fast. And, the same old same old get to keep calling the shots. The same 3 time losers. But, for some reason, you expect that it’s about to change? Please. Spare me.

      • Dan says:

        I should mention now that I’ve never voted Liberal in my short life, and I’m an NDP supporter.

        I don’t expect the Liberals to change. I still don’t think they’ve come to grips with why they lost. “It’s Harper’s fault!”

  5. VH says:

    In order to be relevant, generally speaking, a party has to stand for something. People take notice of stuff like that.

  6. Gyor says:

    Its none of the above, thier is no silver bullet that will make the Liberals into the force it used to be. The liberals think if we just make the right decision we’ll be back on top, but few realize that thier future depends on many factors beyond thier control.

    The closest thing I can see as a safe survival move would be to pick Scott Brison as leader, go fiscally right and socially left and rip into the Tories who are weak and sickly now.

    Too many liberals are wondering how can we take down the NDP and replace them, when the scandal ridden Tories make a much better target.

    The liberals could target the Tories on the debt and general fiscal management which is the one area where they still are scene as credible. In one poll the Tories only had a ten point lead and a shift of 5 percent from the,Tories to the liberals would have created a tie between them.

    The liberals best bet is to target the voters of the party that is sickly amd weak and long in the tooth.

    • WesternGrit says:

      Gyor, you’re right. We should show fiscal responsibility, but a very socially Liberal social policy.

      I also think Brison would be a good choice – as would a number of younger members (some current and former MPs). People with a drive and energy to work on this for the longer term. Harper took MANY years to ascend to power. So did Layton. Harper’s regime is falling apart slowly. By 2015 we could make some solid in-roads – IF we tout our economic record under Chretien.

  7. Gyor says:

    Btw I’m a New Democract so I’m biased, but I unlike most Canadians I still have a use for the Liberals, split the rightwing vote.

  8. Mike Foulds says:

    I think it is time for the Liberals to inspire. Set some policy directions based on their convictions.

    Bob Rae is not going to convince anyone new to vote for him. The Libs will get the same result under him.

    New blood is needed. As much as I like Justin Trudeau I fear his baggage, mainly his name, may have too many negatives.

    Give me my Canadian Obama, as trite as that sounds. Give me someone I want to follow, not someone I regret.

  9. dstm says:

    I get it. I have seen it unravel.
    No to Bob…Yes to Amanda Lang

  10. Nic Coivert says:

    Bob Rae is talented, smart, capable and passionate, but he’s the wrong leader at this time.

    Liberals need to elect a leader to rebuild, to re-unite & to re-ignite. Someone under 50.

    I still support the Liberals because I don’t think our parliamentary system is well served under a two party system. How can a minority government exist in two party system? It can’t, and minority governments have been some of our best governments.

    I’d like to see Trudeau, he’s a survivor.

  11. Michael Behiels says:

    Harper will give Mulcair enough time and room to consolidate the NDP’s hold over the Official Opposition. This will ensure that the centrist LPC will go the way of the dodo bird into extinction by 2020.
    Perhaps the demise of LPC will come earlier if rank and file progressive Liberals vote with their feet and move into the NDP fold in 2014 pr 2015.
    When A naive Ignatieff’s dumped Warren Kinsella he accelerated his demise as well as the demise of the LPC.
    Rae is long past his due date. He must go now!
    LPC might hold on as third party for some time if it’s members choose a younger dynamic, bilingual leader who can pull Canada’s region together and promote national unity without caving into Western provincialists and Quebec autonomists and secessionists.

  12. Chris P says:

    Warren who is the right guy? I think Bob has done an amazing job as INTERIM leader but the current crop of potential candidates are not overly appealing to the vast electorate. Truth is we need (dreaming): McGuinty, Mckenna, Carney, Manley, Corderre, Trudeau, a respected westerner, respected females etc. to run.

    Optimistic view is this:

    1. There is 3 years to go before the next election – In politics this is an eternity
    2. Polls are useless – the only poll that matters is election day
    3. We really have no leader, concrete policies etc. So were at a solid 20% and have done nothing.
    4. A leadership campaign will bring attention, members, money and profile to the party.
    5. We may be the third party in parliament but we out raised the NDP in money.

  13. kre8tv says:

    A leaderless NDP. A toothless performance as Official Opposition. A government that can’t count. And a growing sense that these idiots are just making it all up as they go along. Each of these ought to have been gifts that even a half-capable leader of the LPC should have been able to capitalize on. But that hasn’t happened. Not from lack of trying. But because frankly everyone’s made up their minds about Rae. It takes special skill to be hated more than Harper or to inspire greater indifference than Mulcair, and somehow he’s managed to achieve both of these with the electorate.

    If he can’t get traction now, you can just imagine what a disaster he’ll be at the helm during an election.

    But there’s another wait of looking at this. And that’s to say thank the gods that they’re still down in the polls. Can you imagine what might have happened had there been even a marginal uptick in support under Rae? All the talk now would be about momentum and the need to give him the leader’s job sans interim proviso. So there’s one bullet dodged. For a change.

  14. MoeL says:

    Check out the Nanos polls (which I tend to think are usually the most credible) http://www.nanosresearch.com/library/polls/2012-04-BallotE.pdf. Here, Rae had them more or less tied with the NDP in three consecutive polls before the NDP convention. The last poll taken in March I think had the LPC 5% ahead. Having said that, I believe the LPC needs a new generation to step up to the plate. The only two candidates that come to mind for me are LeBlanc and Brison.

  15. james curran says:

    And another one bites the dust. Looks more and more like a Rae coronation every day. 19 per cent will have that effect on people I guess.


  16. JamesHalifax says:

    The Liberals need to find another man like Jean Chretien. He’s the only guy who ever gave Harper a run for the money. Mulcair is a blowhard and will not pose a serious threat once the public sees the man in action.

    Chretien was ruthless. He could be petty, and he could hold a grudge. All things currently said about Harper. Does the LIberal party currently have anyone that could be described as ruthless? Sure, but not ruthless AND competent…and that is the difference. People don’t have to like Harper as long as they know he’s competent. The Liberals need to ditch tired old and outworn policy and find something with traction. “Free Daycare”…sorry, no such thing and people who have jobs and pay taxes know it. Even Quebecer’s pay $7 per day and they have waiting lists a mile long.

    Kyoto, green programs..etc..etc….Again, forget about them. Let Lizzie May waste her time on that. When people are worried about their jobs, they aren’t interested in windmills or solar panels, no matter how many biased and error filled studies state otherwise. People in Ontario only have to look at their skyrocketing hydro rates to see the damage these useless programs cause. (and cost)

    If the Liberals want to get back into power, they need to tell us WHY. And it goes far beyond their belief that they simply deserve it. Tell us what you are going to do. Tell us HOW you are going to do it. What will it cost? Who will it help, and who will it hurt? Don’t try to divide the East against the West (that’s mulcairs tactic now).
    Stick to the basics.
    1. How will you alleviate the downturn in Canadian Manufacturing? (Harper is working on numerous trade deals and agreements..what will you do?)
    2. How will you fix our immigration problems? (Harper is updating policy regularly, and people for the most part agree with his measures)
    3. How will you help working families? (without using the more wealthy as a punching bag) (tax relief, reduce wasteful spending)
    4. How will you get schools back to teaching the basics, instead of enacting on social engineering? (Reading, Writing, and Rythmatic)

    Face it…right now the Liberals don’t even make an effective opposition. They rarely take time to look at bills and suggest changes that will be accepted. They simply scream and complain. They try to scare folks…but guess what, that’s been done before.

    Permanent “interim” Leader Bob Rae needs to get over the idea that voters will come flocking back to the fold once they see how incompetent the NDP still remains, or how scarey Harper never was. If the Libs want to get back in…they need to earn it.

    Otherwise, the next election will be worse. The left leaning Liberals will stick with the NDP, and the Liberals remaining who actually understand economics will go conservative to keep the NDP out. And then where will the Liberal Party be?

    PS….Justin won’t be your saviour either. You need substance……not nostalgia.

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