Monday, March 27, 2006

Rebuilding the Big Red Machine - 3

The word on the street is that the Liberal Party is pushing hard for one national membership with uniform rules from coast to coast. If the LPC is serious about moving forward with a constitutional amendment on this at the upcoming convention, then this is the best decision they've made in a long, long time.

For those unfamiliar with the current Liberal Party membership policy, the membership rules are currently a mish-mash of seemingly contradictory, arbitrary, and random procedures, including:

-Forms cost 25$
-Forms cost 1$
-You become a member for life
-You don't need to have membership in the riding you live in
-You become a member of the provincial party

I won't even begin to get into the variations on the policy for distributing membership forms. The worst thing about the individual provinces setting their own membership policies is that it opens the door for the kind of flagrant abuses and restriction of forms we saw during the last leadership campaign. I'll never understand why Team Martin felt the best way to grow the LPC in Alberta was to prevent people from becoming Liberals but, because every province could set their own rules for form distribution, it was possible to do this.

The first step to correcting this has already been announced, with the availability of online forms (Welcome to the 90s!). This will go a long way to making the party more open and accessible and has been a long time coming.

But beyond this, it's important to go to a national form, for three big reasons. I've already touched on the benefits of having uniform (and preferably non-retarded) rules to prevent abuses. The second main benefit will be the huge savings in administrative costs by processing the forms nationally (and on-line). For a party in debt, that's probably a good thing.

The third benefit comes from fundraising. The LPC has never adapted to the new campaign finance dynamic of fundraising. In the post-C-24 world, you need to target your grass roots members for donations. In order to do this, you need an up to date national membership list. Take a look at the number of donors from the major parties over the past few years:

While the graph may not be overly clear, those tall blue lines are the number of Tory donations and those embarrassingly small green lines are NDP donors. If you squint hard enough, you might be able to find the number of Liberal donors there.

To get the party's financial house in order, it's absolutely essential to have a national membership form which is easy to obtain. Hopefully the party will forge ahead with this.

Update: Mark your calendars - April 3rd is now the target date for Liberal memberships to be available online.


  • I was one of the '03 donors, and not even 18 at the time.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:40 AM  

  • I heard an unsubstantiated rumour that in order to access the on-line membership form, you need to already be a member. That is, the on-line proposal is for renewals only. Anyone know if that's the case?

    The on-line form seems to me to be sold as simpler than it really is. Trying to get people to pay the right amount and get them registered in the right province or constituency is complicated. Transmission time for funds is going to be an issue, too. It's an issue in Alberta as it is.

    I think a national membership policy is a no-brainer. I'd say central processing might actually be a bad idea, though. It would require more details on how it's going to be implemented. I don't think contituency associations in Alberta are looking forward to waiting for checks from the same place 307 other associations are calling, as opposed to the place that 27 other associations are calling, now.

    I agree on the need for an accurate and reliable membership list. But I don't think fundraising is tha main reason. The main reason is back to the abuse thing.

    By Blogger Gauntlet, at 2:01 AM  

  • OT I know, but may save you loss if you are ready for it...

    Before you use your credit card on line again, be sure to read this first person experience of a hijacked cardholder. There is a new stealth key logger out that automatically gets and sorts personal information with a bot server. There is no anti- malware software defending against this so far.
    hijacked online
    PS There is a free logger sweeper at
    You get three 3 free sweeps before having to subscribe.

    By Blogger TonyGuitar, at 2:17 AM  

  • Sorry href= does not edit on blogger..the link:=

    By Blogger TonyGuitar, at 2:19 AM  

  • Actually the online membership that will be up in in ten days or so will only be able to handle new members. Renewals will come later in the process, but they are not as important right now because immediate past members can renew at the door of DSMs. Each PTA will have its own moneris account where the money will be instantly credited upon the transaction. Postal codes are used for location identifcation and in the event of a mixed riding postal code a report will be generted for the PTA and the online applicant can print their personalized form and submit it by mail.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:37 AM  

  • "an elaborate kickback scheme...a culture of entitlement" - Justice John Gomery.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:43 AM  

  • PM holds all the aces in Parliament
    Mar. 24, 2006. 01:00 AM

    Paul Martin's minority government spent its time in Parliament dodging opposition bullets until one finally found its target. But when a reconfigured House of Commons comes back next month, it will be the opposition that will have to worry about playing Russian roulette.

    Stephen Harper may bring fewer MPs to the fore than Martin did but his hand is still stronger. In sharp contrast with his predecessor, he faces three opposition parties that have more cause to want to avoid a snap election than he does.

    When Harper was the Leader of the Opposition, there was never any question that the Conservative party was battle-ready. Its leader knew he had only one campaign left in him. The first hint of a surge in the polls last spring turned out to be sufficient to send the Conservatives on the election warpath.

    The Liberals are leaderless until the end of the year. Their name is mud in Quebec. It has been seven elections since they last secured a majority of seats in the province that for so long was their stronghold. None of the presumed candidates for their leadership is a shoo-in for the job or a major attraction anywhere in the country.

    The last two Liberal leaders cannot stand to be in the same room at the same time. If they absolutely have to, the room better be the size of a hall.

    It will take more than a reconciliation party in downtown Toronto to bring the party's warring factions together, a situation that accounts for why so many outsiders to the party are currently considered potentially serious leadership candidates.

    Back when the Liberals were in power, the NDP managed to play a central role in the policy-making of the government, allowing the party to make the case that a minority was in the best interests of its supporters.

    But Jack Layton is unlikely to come anywhere close to having the same role vis-à-vis the Conservative government.

    Unless the NDP manages to supplant the Liberals as the progressive opposition to the Conservatives over the life of this Parliament, it stands to get trampled in the next election as some of its natural allies once again urge voters to unite behind the party they see as most likely to get Harper out of office.

    For the NDP, the relative health of the Liberal party over the coming year may be as important, if not more so, as the performance of the Conservative government.

    But perhaps the biggest change between this Parliament and the previous one resides in the psyche of the Bloc Québécois. The election of a different government has largely cleared the air of the sponsorship scandal and deprived the Bloc of its best target.

    On a larger scale, the results of the last election have destabilized the Bloc.

    Going into the campaign, Gilles Duceppe never imagined that he would have to worry about the Conservatives gaining on him in francophone Quebec. But now, if an election were held tomorrow, Harper would increase his Quebec numbers — at the expense of the Bloc.

    At the same time, there is less than meets the eye in the Bloc's election breakthrough in ethnic Montreal. While the party did win seats that previously were Liberal strongholds, its vote did not really go up from one election to the next. More Liberals either stayed home or moved over to the Conservatives.

    Premier Jean Charest could call an election anytime between next fall and the end of 2007. By the time the Liberals have a leader in place, the Bloc's election window will be shut tight while the PQ makes its own bid for power; by then Ontario, too, might be in election mode.

    In no small part because of the sponsorship scandal, the last Parliament was probably never Martin's to win but it looks like this one will be Harper's to lose.


    CG, as I said to Cherniak, I'm not laughing with you, but rather at you:) Good luck guys, your going to need it.

    By Blogger Joe Calgary, at 11:25 AM  

  • CG,

    As usual, you are bang on!
    A national membership form would eliminate SOOO many headaches and it would keep things a lot more honest.

    I really hope you are right and that this becomes the next step in modernizing the party.

    By Blogger Riley Hennessey, at 11:48 AM  

  • Hopefully these and other reforms will be passed at the biennial. Keep posting ideas. Good work
    Yeah it's about time this party entered the 20th C. I'm not sure I'd give them 1990 yet.

    By Blogger s.b., at 12:26 PM  

  • I was shocked when I first found out that the Liberals didn't have online membership forms.

    By Blogger Toronto Tory, at 1:16 PM  

  • Let's not jump too quickly. Let's not forget that the Liberal Party is a federation. If the national membership is controlled by Ottawa, it will be Ottawa people calling the nomination meetings, determining voter eligibility, etc., etc. These decisions should be made on the ground in the provinces, not by people in the Ivory Tower in Ottawa.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:24 PM  

  • The PTAs can still call nomination meetings and do the same stuff they do now.

    This would just save administrative costs and help with fundraising.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:32 PM  

  • As of Monday there are only 5 Spyware protection Cos who can recognize the new Stealth Trojan Credit Card info server bot.
    Update at:

    By Blogger TonyGuitar, at 4:26 PM  

  • "A Liberal, is a Liberal, is a Liberal..." (Sheila Copps, during the 1982 Ontario Liberal leadership campaign).

    Great ideas. Should end the nonsense of that tears riding associations apart, and the stupid instances of bought nominations.

    As well, it should end the practice of vote splitting. Not much of an issue in Ontario anymore, but here in Manitoba and throughout the west, provincial Liberals always distanced themselves from federal policy, so far that in B.C. and Saskatchewan they looked like Tories.

    David Imrie -

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:00 PM  

  • Here's another idea for rebuilding the party: Don't allow idiots like Kinsella to bash potential leadership candidates for having ideas rather than soundbites.

    When people like Kinsella are considered leaders of the party we're in a LOT of trouble.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:16 PM  

  • Point of interest: how can that graph have numbers for donations to the Conservative Party stretching all the way back to 1993? Are those numbers an amalgamation of donations to Reform and the PCs?

    By Blogger freshly_squeezed, at 6:29 PM  

  • FS - yeah, those would be joined numbers for the various Conservative parties.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 6:58 PM  

  • The only glitch with this is that some provinces have far more open membership rules than the national consensus would likely ever allow. In New Brunswick for instance, memberships are free and you can photo copy forms, submit your information by email or fax without a form, etc, etc. The party moved to institute a membership fee last year and it was overwhelmingly and angrily rejected by the membership at a convention in October.

    By Anonymous fjm, at 7:55 PM  

  • Clear thinking Ignatieff may be difficult for *Rigid liberals* to accept, yet correct thinking from Ignatieff may help us all see the need to stem this Fanatic fundamentalist Fascism.

    Fascism?.. Yes, fascism. Paul Macrae clarifies this on page A8 of the March 27th Victoria Times Colonist.

    If the West had ignored Chamberlain’s procrastinating and Roosevelt had joined with Churchill early on, before Hitler was fully organized, millions of lives may have been saved. The Pearl Harbour disaster would have been avoided too, as all hands would have been geared up and on full alert.

    Allowing Nazism to run it’s course resulted in the loss of [55], fifty-five Million lives.!

    Afghani-American Tamim Ansary , shortly after 9/11, wrote, *When you think Taliban, think Nazi SS. When you think bin Laden, think HITLER. And, when you think of the people of Afghanistan, think of the Jews in concentration camps.*

    This is the way we need to think about fanatic Islamism, including Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

    Whatever the religious ,trappings extremist Isamism is still a form of Fascism. As Ignatieff notes . *We can fight this Fascism now, or we can fight it later, when it is organized and stronger, but we do have to fight it, just as we had to in 1939. TG [Yes, 55 million lives.]

    [Note.. I think the Stealth I.D. stealing Trojan perps are fascist too. Only a few anti-virus firms can detect it, otherwise everyone is exposed without a defense . There are only 5 firms who are ready.] Check :=

    By Blogger TonyGuitar, at 9:18 PM  

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