Renewal by Committee
As others have pointed out, the renewal committee is undeniably stacked with Ignatieff supporters - by my count, 7 of the 9 were part of his leadership campaign, while I believe Girard and Crawley were neutral. To ensure a greater debate of ideas, and to avoid the optics of Ignatieff imposing his position top down, it would have been nice to see someone like a Tom Axworthy or Gerard Kennedy involved.
Still, it's not a bad list of Liberals, and Navdeep Bains and Steve MacKinnon are certainly good choices as chairs. Bains is young and has been very vocal about the need for reform - you can read his thoughts on party renewal in this Globe & Mail round table. In it, he argues for a streamlined fundraising process, a weighted one member one vote system, and an empowering of riding association presidents. Steve MacKinnon is also a good choice, as he was key in pushing forward the constitutional changes that were passed at the last convention. He called me up a few years ago out of the blue to talk about the need for a national membership after I'd posted on that topic and, based on our conversation, it was clear he understood that the LPC must modernize itself, if it hopes to be succesful.
Further complicating things is the announcement today of the "change commission", chaired by Carolyn Bennett, party president Doug Ferguson, and Brigitte Garceau. I have also heard rumours that a new committee will be established, tasked with studying ways to reduce the number of redundant commissions in the LPC. Just kidding. Maybe.
Reading over their "job descriptions", it appears that the renewal committee will be focused on structural changes to the party constitution. I've heard a lot of rumours about a desire in some circles to abolish the PTAs in a bid to streamline the party, so I can only assume this committee will be the vehicle to propose those changes. I have some concerns about this, but I'll wait and see what their final recommendations are before passing judgement.
The change commission's mandate to focus on "long term changes to the Party’s engagement, communications, fundraising, policy, and election-readiness strategies" is far more important in my opinion. My advice for this commission would be to listen to Liberals - I've heard a lot of good ideas by Liberals outside of the party's power structure, so it will be important for this commission to take all suggestions to heart. It will also be important for them to look beyond our own party and our own borders, to see what other groups have done to successfully re-invigorate their membership and boost fundraising totals. The obvious case study in this is the Dean-Obama Democrats, but there are plenty of other movements we could learn a thing or two from.
Finally, the most important thing will be for the party to actual listen to them. The Red Ribbon Commission's renewal report was forgotten before it was even drafted and, living in the age of perpetual election readiness, it will be tempting to talk about change rather than actually enacting it.