Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Montreal Conference

The predictable media reaction to this weekend's thinkers conference has begun, with Greg Weston attacking the Liberals for:

a) Not "articulating an alternative other than the fact they are not Stephen Harper and the Conservatives".

b) Holding a policy conference to find this alternative.

*CG smacks head on table*

Expect more of that over the next week - in fact, Susan Delacourt gives us a preview of what to expect, via this 1991 Toronto Star coverage of the Aylmer Conference:

Liberal well runs dry at policy conference
By William Walker TORONTO STAR

AYLMER, Que. - The Liberal plan was to bring together thinkers and policy experts for a non-partisan conference to gather up all the brightest and best ideas for the 1990s.

But many delegates left the Liberals' weekend Aylmer conference concerned that no great new ideas had emerged.


I'll go out on a limb and suggest the press wasn't too kind to Lester B. Pearson either after the Kingston Conference, just two years removed from the worst shellacking in party history.

So, to ensure we're all on the same page, let's clear a few things up. Michael Ignatieff isn't going to walk out to his post-conference news conference with a pair of stone tablets with the Liberals' election platform transcribed on them. This conference is about generating ideas, some of which will make it into the party platform, some of which will be ignored.

I know it isn't sexy stuff. I know it lacks instant gratification. Yeah, it will be a bore to cover. But it's important. Perhaps, dare I say it, more important than airport temper tantrums or mischievous opposition day motions.

I for one, would dearly love to see the Liberals clearly articulate their long term vision for the country, and to explain just what they stand for. This conference is an important part of that process.

18 Comments:

  • This was originally billed as a non partisan event. No one really believes that anymore. Lib spinners have already downplayed the expectations to try and save face.

    I do not think that Iggy had expected that Liberals would call it a bore to cover.All that for $700!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:33 PM  

  • One is still left to wonder whether the Liberals will be sticking taxpayers with the tab for this conference.

    By Blogger Paul, at 7:12 PM  

  • Well you better hope there are alot of non-partisan Western Canadian thinkers at your conference if you want to see a 'National Vision',
    because with only 8% of the seats in the future driver of the Canadian economy, it's not lookin' so good, eh.
    And 2 of the 6 seats you do have in the West were won by less than 100 votes.

    Your biggest hurdle is the
    Dec 1, 2008 coalition with the socialists and the French Resistance movement.

    By Blogger wilson, at 7:27 PM  

  • I for one, would dearly love to see the Liberals clearly articulate their long term vision for the country, and to explain just what they stand for.

    This conference is an important part of that process.


    On the former, me too.

    On the latter, this is about fundraising. End of story.

    By Blogger Joanne (True Blue), at 7:53 PM  

  • Wilson, give it a rest. We all know long before December 2008, Harper was more than willing to make the same coalition with socialists and separatists.

    Can you not think of anything other than these pathetic dusty old talking points?

    Are you on auto pilot?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:40 PM  

  • I don't have a problem with Liberals having conferences to talk about their jobs.

    My only problem is that my former friends in the formerly Conservative Party aren't doing the same thing.

    And didn't some federal Tories fly to Davos? What's that, a grassroots teach-in complete with weed and portable toilets?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:33 PM  

  • Weston: But what is causing a lot of head-scratching among pols, pundits — and a lot of Liberals — is what the heck is the political point of the whole thing?

    ... why does everything have to be about "politics", anyway???

    You're right to point out Weston's self-contradiction. Ignatieff is a total (unelected) failure imo, and we need a true competition between Harper and the Liberal leader next election - so I hope something very useful and exciting comes out of the event.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 11:11 PM  

  • Hate to bring this up, but there was a reason why Ignatieff lost to Stephane Dion during the last Liberal leadership race. Everyone is talking about the need for a clear and articulate vision coming from Mr. Ignatieff and I just don't see that happening after this weekend. The Liberal Party of Canada needs to go through a process of organizational renewal that includes developing policy and that whole vision thing we keep hearing about. Ignatieff has been the leader for a year now - a leader who received a coronation, IMHO. I suspect that had Liberals ran an actual leadership contest, Bob Rae would have won (since he's really the defacto and/or spiritual leader of the party now) and Libs would be trouncing the Tories in the polls.

    Very simply, if Iggy hasn't caught on with the public a year into his tenure, it ain't gonna happen.

    By Blogger Neil, at 7:46 AM  

  • One is still left to wonder whether the Liberals will be sticking taxpayers with the tab for this conference.

    Nope, it's a party-funded event, hence complaints over the delegate fees.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 10:20 AM  

  • Anon - Most of the speakers are non-partisan and the MPs haven't even been invited.

    So the intent is to get non-partisan ideas.

    But OBVIOUSLY the end result is to create a Liberal platform. So there's a certain amount of partisanship in it. Obviously, the Liberals aren't going to adopt ideas that run against their core values.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 10:22 AM  

  • Sigh...

    Two years ago conservatives were saying that if Ignatieff were the leader instead of Dion, Liberals would be trouncing Conservatives in the polls.

    "Everyone is talking about the need for a clear and articulate vision coming from Mr. Ignatieff and I just don't see that happening after this weekend."

    Did you miss this?

    "Michael Ignatieff isn't going to walk out to his post-conference news conference with a pair of stone tablets with the Liberals' election platform transcribed on them. This conference is about generating ideas, some of which will make it into the party platform, some of which will be ignored."

    I suggest given the comments from conservatives on this post, they are a little more concerned about what might come out of this conference than they are willing to admit.

    wilson - you can have a national vision even if Alberta does not want to play along. Everyone knows the LPC are going no where in Alberta, so it is easy for you to set up that test and claim they failed.

    The truth is Harper has done very little for this province. People here are just waiting around for that majority so he can implement the Triple E Senate (which he has never said he will do).

    By Blogger Gayle, at 10:22 AM  

  • Gayle wrote:

    >>I suggest given the comments from conservatives on this post, they are a little more concerned about what might come out of this conference than they are willing to admit.<<

    I'm a Liberal, Gayle and you're on crack. The issue isn't whatever policy comes out of this weekend, the issue is the guy who has to sell it to Canadians. The Tories have effectively defined Ignatieff and through his own ineptitude. (such as screaming blue bloody murder about prorogation for two months and then absenting himself after the Throne speech to go on a friggin' "listening" tour.)

    He ain't the messiah he was made out to be and Conservatives have absolutely nothing to fear from either Iggy or the Liberal Party right now because the party itself is a shadow of what it used to be.

    The Liberal Party of Canada is actually the Conservative Party of Canada - the Tories own the center now - done deal, and Liberals allowed this to happen.

    By Anonymous Neil, at 12:41 PM  

  • I don't like Ignatieff either, but you cannot honestly deny that at one point people spoke about him the way you now speak about Rae.

    Your guy didn't win. I get it. Now you should get over it.

    Your little complaint about Ignatieff going on his long planned tour, originally scheduled during what was supposed to be a parliamentary break, is beyond petty. If you are stooping to complaining about that, then yoi don't have much to complain about.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 1:08 PM  

  • Perhaps a remedial course in Math including a refresher on addition and subtraction should be added to the workshops at the "Liberal Thinkers" conference in Montreal.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:48 PM  

  • Gayle - you're missing the optics of this: Ignatieff led the charge on the Tory prorogation and then disappeared to go an @#$% "think" for two weeks once the House reconvened.

    He is a GIFT to the Tories and they're going to win a majority with Ignatieff at the helm partly because they now own the center but mostly because the Liberals have spent the last four years looking for the fastest way back to government instead of redefining themselves.

    Ignatieff has won nothing, Gayle. There was no leadership race - he was crowned.

    By Anonymous Neil, at 2:15 PM  

  • The problem, from what I'm seeing, is that they're trying to build a TED conference without all the inventors, artists, visionaries and honest-to-goodness "thinkers" that make TED so interesting. Instead, the speakers' list is a vast assemblage of CEOs, doctrinaire economists, business consultants and Derek Burneys.

    What could possibly come out of that lot that wasn't already spectacularly repudiated by the experiences of the last year and a half? And how can it point the way to small and big "l" liberal thought going forward, when most of these people would probably be uncomfortable being described as "Liberals" in the first place?

    The problem with the Liberal party, as it stands, is not the influence of non-liberal thought. Quite the opposite. The problem with the Liberals is the same as with a lot of other liberal parties out there: a lack of understanding, interest, and knowledge of what liberal political philosophy actually consists of.

    For all their issues, at least the British LibDems are grappling with that. The Canadian Liberals seem to be trying to reinforces the same sort of empty, thoughtless technocratic policy that led them astray in the first place.

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 6:55 PM  

  • And just as a quick follow-up...that steep price for attendance ($700? Really?) is going to mean that the only people who can possibly attend are those who treat social justice as a sort of noblesse oblige, rather than a vital component of their own lives and communities.

    That is also exactly what Ignatieff doesn't need right now; any policies built on that sort of Beneficent Liberalism From Above is not going to attract either wavering Tory voters nor wavering NDP voters.

    In fact, considering the results of that sort of attitude when applied by the developed North to the developing South, I wouldn't even blame them.

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 7:00 PM  

  • "Nope, it's a party-funded event, hence complaints over the delegate fees."

    If it's Party-funded, then it's being paid for by donations subject to tax rebates - i.e. the taxpayers are being stuck with the tab.

    And if the monies collected are going through Liberal coffers, then the LPC position is that it must contribute to the personal donation cap, must be receipted as such, and therefore is further being subsidized by taxpayers.

    By Blogger Paul, at 1:33 AM  

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