Monday, November 13, 2006

Bobbi Ethier Speaks

It's not nearly as glamorous as the leadership race...or the nation question...or even the Red Ribbon Report vote (which I'll be talking about later this week). Hell, even the Paul Martin tribute will probably be more interesting. But the race for the presidency of the Liberal Party is still an important one. Because of this, I e-mailed out all the candidates asking them to answer a few questions.

I still haven't heard back from Tony Ianno so if anyone on his campaign wants to give him a nudge, feel free to. I'll be posting Bobbi Ethier's answers today and Marie Poulin's tomorrow.

Bobbi Ethier

1. You're a strong advocate of moving to one member one vote leadership races. If the motion to adopt this system is defeated, will you still push hard to change the leadership selection process?

If the one member one vote is defeated then I will definitely be working to change the leadership selection process. This process is cumbersome, labour and volunteer intensive and very costly (which bleeds money from the other party functions). However any changes to the process need to be done in consultation and conjunction with grassroots liberals, the PTAs, National Executive, Caucus etc.

2. In 50 words or less, why are you best suited to be President of the Liberal Party at this time?

It is almost 100% certain that the next leader of the Liberal Party will be a man from eastern Canada. To balance that off and demonstrate the representative and inclusive nature of our party a bilingual woman from the west would be a great team mate! I have shown through my almost 5 years as President of LPCM and on the National Executive that I have leadership and the ability to draw people. In the Winnipeg Free Press on Sunday there was an article on the "Manitoba's Power 30" I was listed as #2 in the "10 to watch for the future" and the article described me as "effervescent". I think it is a recognition of my energy, diplomacy, inclusivity and outreach. I also believe that the Liberal Party is best served when we have the Presidency and all other elected positions on the National Executive filled by grassroots volunteer Liberals that reflect our volunteer corps.

3. Stephen LeDrew famously called the campaign finance rules "dumb as a bag of hammers" when he was President. Mike Eizenga has often appeared on panel discussions. Do you think the LPC President should comment on or criticize political decisions made by the Party leader?

I certainly believe that the LPC President should comment on matters however I will not ever criticize the leader or the Party. There are times when hard things must be said but we do that in the confines of our own structure. However it is both strategic and tactical for the President to relay a message to the public that an elected official may not want to convey. The obvious ideal situation is to have communication and coordination among all facets of the Liberal team. Together, working in one direction, we are strong.

4. The Conservatives are kicking our ass with respect to fundraising. What concrete steps will you take to improving the fundraising totals of the Liberal Party?

I have had many experiences raising money. Most recently spearheading a capital campaign to raise $12 million for the new Winnipeg Humane Society, which is currently under construction. We had this tremendous success not by a few large donations but rather by thousands and thousands of small donations. People need to understand that they have a voice in the organization, they believe in the cause and that they are treated well and valued and only then under these conditions will people donate vigorously. We need to do better at all of this. I am quite committed to revitalizing this endeavour.

5. Will you take any steps to ensuring that this party has a vibrant policy process which leads to resolutions which don't simply get ignored?

The Party is policy and people, both need to be relevant. I agree wholeheartedly that party policy needs to revitalized. The YLC have done an amazing job in policy development and communication and we can take a leaf out of their book! I truly sense that Canadians are ready for us to return to form government and it will be essential to convey our plan for the nation. That is why I support entirely the concept of a policy and platform committee as described in the Red Ribbon report. Once the party has endorsed policy - it becomes the platform and any ignoring of such requires explanation. It is an excellent process.

6. If you could host a dinner with the three following guests, dead or living, who would you select:

Former Party Leader : I am sure everyone will say the same but I would really like to invite Trudeau. I met him as a little girl and was charmed then. I would like to tell him how many times the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has enhanced and empowered my personal and professional life. I also would toast him for the nation's commitment to bilingualism.

Former Liberal Party President: Iona Campagnola - obviously because she was the first female President of the Liberal Party but also because she was a grassroots party volunteer. I would like advice from her and I would love to chat with her about her community work as chair of the Fraser Basin Council which works on the environmental sustainability of the Fraser River.

One Member of a different political party: Peter MacKay - I would love to have some "alone time" with him where I can introduce him to the dogs up for adoption at the Humane Society. He can buy them dinner.


  • Thank you for doing this Bart.

    Most of us know little about the candidates for President.

    I have received one e-mail on behalf of Bobbi Ethier and one phone call on behalf of Marie Poulin.

    So I hardly feel qualified to vote.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 6:07 a.m.  

  • Would her first task be to get the heck rid of Steve McKinnon!!!!

    Every time people see his smug little pinched face on tv and listen to the pathetic smearing smarmy drivel as he interupts everyone else and oozes arrogance people are reminded about the dasrk belly of the Liberal party. McKinnon epitomizes everything that is wrong with the party.
    He has to go - or lock him in a closet somehwere a get a new media spokesperson.

    By Blogger HearHere, at 1:03 p.m.  

  • CG correctly points out that the Presidential race is important, but doesn't say why. Here's why I think it's important.

    The President will be one of four people elected by national convention on a body of 15 that is given the power to write bylaws to which every rule of the Liberal Party must adhere.

    That is a huge power, and a huge opportunity to fix problems. But you need a person with the right to set the agenda who knows what the problems are, wants to fix them, and can lead others.

    I interviewed the three candidates for president. Check out my site for the interviews (Check out the race for LPC President box on the right-hand side). As a result of those interviews, I'm supporting Bobbi for president.

    Bobbi recognizes that there is a difference between a party and a campaign, and that the party has to think longer-term. She recognizes that requires putting limits on the power of the leader. She recognizes that the process that brought us to these reforms wasn't adequate (though she was a part of it), and that more outreach needs to be done with the members of the party. At the same time she recognizes that the changes are an important step forward. She also recognizes that our nomination rules have sometimes unacceptably disenfranchised regular Liberals.

    The only way you can expect a president to use this new power to fix the problems is if they can see them and think they are important.

    Bobbi sees the problems I (and many other Alberta Liberals) see, and she wants to fix them, and she is able to fix them.

    The other two candidates are excellent politicians, but they are campaigning better for the position of national campaign chair than president.

    Go Bobbi.

    By Blogger Gauntlet, at 1:35 p.m.  

  • I think she's right that it would be nice to have a Western female together with an Eastern male - it's an attractive idea.

    She kind of loses me with "will never criticize the Leader", I guess. If, hypothetically, Ignatieff had been PM/Leader during MIA->"not losing sleep"-> it was a war crime -> everybody had a war crime, then there should be criticism. I'm sure I could think of examples for other candidates as well, also.

    Her Peter MacKay really loses me, though - ugh, can't we get over that story? Out of all the witty comments to make about so many members of all our many parties, from Mel Hurtig to Robert Stanfield Thomas D'Arcy McGee, this is who she chooses?

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 6:52 p.m.  

  • Bart - thanks

    hearhear - tell us how you really feel!

    JBG - Agreed, totally unnecessary Peter MacKay reference.

    By Blogger Gavin Magrath, at 7:44 p.m.  

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