Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Marie Poulin Speaks

Yesterday, I posted the answers to questions I sent to LPC Presidential candidate Bobbi Ethier. Today, I post the answers from another challenger, Senator Marie Poulin:

1. Will you be voting in favour of the Red Ribbon Report and the proposal to change the leadership selection process?

I cannot say enough about the important work that the Red Ribbon Task Force has done for our Party. Their report, “A Party Built for Everyone, A Party Built to Win” is a significant contribution to our efforts to renew; it should be read by every Liberal across the country.

I was pleased to see the Task Force focus on many of the issues that I believe are critical to the success of the Liberal Party: making the party matter by connecting with Canadians, ensuring financial stability and accountability, and ensuring operational efficiency while preparing for the next election. The Task Force’s report included a number of recommendations that are part of my platform – so, yes I will be voting in favour of the Red Ribbon Report. And if the vote passes, as President, I will focus on ensuring effective and inclusive implementation of these recommendations, with the appropriate amount of consultations with all stakeholders.

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

We have an important opportunity to unite, to renew, and to win the next election by modernizing the way our Party works and I have the experience and perspective necessary: as a proud liberal francophone woman, a representative of a region and minority in the Senate, a former executive in the broadcast industry, and a seasoned organizer and fundraiser.

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?

Coming out of this convention, it will be critical for all Liberals to rally behind our new leader and concentrate our collective strength and efforts on presenting a vision for Canada that gets us elected as Government.

My first – and most important - job as President of the Liberal Party of Canada will to be support our new Leader and guide the Party to victory in the next election. This means taking care of the operational elements of the Party — ensuring strong membership growth, enhancing fundraising activities, improving operational efficiencies and supporting broad outreach on policy development while ensuring seamless communications between ALL components of our Party.

This will allow the Leader to focus on the all-important job of formulating an election platform and strategy that will resonate with Canadians.

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?

As President, I will have an important role in helping the Liberal Party modernize the way we approach fundraising. C-24 and C-2 have profound impacts on our Party and it is important that we adapt to take full advantage of new and innovative fundraising techniques that result in receiving smaller amounts of money from a significantly larger pool of people.

My platform includes the following concrete steps to improve fundraising:

§ Providing incentives to individual members to encourage them to raise money for the party. By empowering individual members, we will be able to tap into a larger pool of possible donors and expand our fundraising reach significantly. Incentives could include a loyalty program with points (tied to the amount of money raised) that could be redeemed for things like membership in the Laurier Club or reduction in convention delegate fees.

§ Working with PTAs and riding associations to help them ensure regular monthly contact with members to get small donations from more people on a recurring monthly basis. By communicating more with members and making them feel more engaged in the Party, we will be more easily able to encourage them to donate small amounts of money. It is important to remember that if only 1/3 of our members gave only $10 per month, it would raise upwards of $12 million a year for the party.

§ All our commissions and Liberal parliamentarians will be given more opportunities to become directly involved in fundraising by setting achievable targets and encouraging them to raise amounts reasonable for the demographic they deal with most. In some cases, this may be very modest amounts. In others, it will be the personal maximum allowed. The important principle is that every active Liberal member has an obligation to help raise funds for the party to the best of his or her ability.

During my campaign, I chose to respect the letter and the spirit of C-24 (even though it does not apply to the election of officers of political parties) by imposing limits and disclosing names of donors on my site. I therefore returned donations of more than 5400$. Now that was tough! To stimulate donations of more than 1000$ (during a Leadership campaign where the liberal dollar is stretched), a painting was prepared by my professional portrait-painter husband, Bernard Poulin, depicting what a Liberal Canada of today looks like. His painting of a Canadian flag blowing in the wind with the portrait of our nine Leaders who became Prime Ministers is becoming the "trademark" of our upcoming convention. The reproduction rights were donated to the "Marie Poulin for President of the LPC" campaign. Giclées are individually prepared and offered as a gift to those donors of more than 1000$. What I am testing is the reaction of liberals to a creative approach to fundraising. Good response, as you can see on my site! And these donations have permitted me to meet liberals from one end of the country to the other, since April 2, to build the platform which I posted on my site, as well as to identify the priorities which will need to be dealt with, when I get off the train running in Montreal, if elected.

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?

As President, I will work hard to ensure that we have a policy development process that is inclusive, effective and relevant. A vibrant policy process that reflects the views of Canadians will help our Party win elections – it’s that simple. And more than that, it will engage individual members in an important and substantive way that has a real impact on the Party.

Policy is very important to me, which is why my platform includes the following ideas for policy development that I will work to implement if I am elected President:

§ Reforming the Party’s policy review and renewal process, along with annual analyses by academics and sectoral experts on key policy issues within the party. These analyses will be posted on the Internet, and party members will be encouraged to comment on the papers that interest them.

§ Working with the Leader to ensure that the gap is bridged between policy developed at conventions and policy platforms used in elections. There is absolutely no point in engaging members in meaningful policy discussions if we can’t reasonably expect that these members will recognize themselves in our party’s eventual election platform.

§ Holding think-tank sessions across the country where individual grassroots members can work TOGETHER with our sectoral experts to contribute to every “Red Book.”

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

One former Liberal Party leader: The Right Honourable Wilfrid Laurier

One former Liberal Party President: The Honourable Iona Campagnola, President of the Liberal Party from 1982 to 1986

One member from a different political party: The Honourable Tommy Douglas


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