Tuesday, May 24, 2011


There has been a lot of talk about Liberal Party renewal since election night. Which is encouraging - after a punch to gut like that, it's easy to give up, but it sounds like there's a real appetite out there to change the party for the better.

Bellow is a sample of posts and article - by all means if you've seen any others, e-mail me and I'll update the list. I don't necessarily agree with all the ideas being floated, but at this point everything should be debated.

Also, thanks also to those who have e-mailed in their thoughts on what the Liberal Party needs to do. I'm keeping track of everything, and intend to explore some of the ideas being floated in a series of blog posts this summer.



  • Why not just change the motto and have another go at it with the same crew. I suggest "You should give us your vote, because we're entitled to it anyway."

    By Anonymous Traciatim, at 11:32 a.m.  

  • The open primary debate would be a very bad move for the Liberals. I see the renewal aspects of the change, but it is not as if leaders elected by other means face real challenges to their legitimacy in Canadian politics. Ignatieff, for instance, was elected leader by caucus, not even by Liberal party members.

    Open primaries would be bad, nay crippling, to the Liberals for the following reasons:

    1. It lowers the utility of being a paid member of the Liberal party. So while it may bring more people into the fold, the sort of connection they have with the party would be much weaker. Are these primary voters going to donate money? Are they going to knock on doors come election day? Hell, are they even going to vote Liberal? Look at the Tories - it pays to have an intense activist base.

    2. Open primary campaigns are very expensive to run, because candidates must appeal to a broader electorate. Even in the US, where there is no shortage of money, primaries are run in a staggered fashion for just that reason (meaning that states later in the primary schedule don't matter). The Liberals are already likely to have cash flow issues, expensive leadership races will make that much worse. Moreover, the prohibitive costs of running will prevent all but the most established of candidates from entering the race.

    3. Primary voters tend to be ideologies, while party members are partisans. When faced with an electable pragmatist and an unelectable true believer, open primaries are more likely to elect the latter. We see this in the US all the time - George McGovern, Sharron Angle Christine O'Donnell, and so on (indeed, the rise of polarization in the US corresponds with the implementation of primaries in the 70s). Primaries only work in the US because both parties use them (this is one of the reasons incumbents are so entrenched - they tend not to face serious primary challenges, and can instead position themselves for the general election). This would weaken the Liberal brand as a pragmatic party of the centre.

    The second element - of party unity - is not trivial either. In a delegated convention, there is a tendency toward consensus around a unifying figure. Primary voters have little reason to care about party unity - the Liberal party for them is, after all, vehicle for them to promote their values, not a good in itself.

    I like to see discussions about reform that get into the nitty-gritty of institutions, instead of vague and fuzzy rhetorical commitments. However, open primaries would be wrong for the Liberal party.

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 7:35 p.m.  

  • It cannot have effect in actual fact, that is exactly what I think.

    By Anonymous www.islas-baleares-3d.com, at 4:18 a.m.  

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