Before we were unfortunately plunged into another round of leadership craziness, the Liberal Party was scheduled to hold its biennial convention in Vancouver. Originally it was to be in December; the election call pushed it to May.
The current plan is to keep the Vancouver date and make it a leadership convention instead. However, ahead of the LPC's national executive meeting on Saturday, where issues like convention and leadership issues and rules are to be discussed, there seems to be lobbying by some to shift the convention to a more Central Canadian location, say, Ottawa.
The Liberal leadership contest has generated a competition among several cities, each of which wants the injection of at least $10 million into its economy for hosting a convention where up to 10,000 delegates are to choose a successor to Stephane Dion.I don't know if this is a serious push, or if the executive is even seriously considering it, but let me state for the record moving the convention from Vancouver would be a mistake, and a slap in the face to Western Canada by the Liberal Party.
Vancouver is pressing the Liberals to keep their plan to hold it in B.C.'s biggest city in early May while Ottawa and Quebec City are among rival cities in the running.
While Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan urged the party Monday to stick to its earlier decision for an early May convention in his city, a Liberal spokesman said party officials are still researching their options and have invited proposals from other cities.
Critics say it will cost more for people to travel to Vancouver. This is true. It costs more for people out West to travel to Ontario as well. Canada, however, is a large country, and as Liberals we like to lay claim to representing all of it, not just the central parts. Are we saying that, because it would be slightly more inconvenient for Ontarioins and Quebecers, Western Canada can never hold a leadership convention? That we'll just have to settle for a policy convention (if we ever get to have one of those again) because policy isn't that important? That's not acceptable. And I seem to recall Jean Chretien winning the leadership at a convention in Calgary.
In the last election, our elected members were largely concentrated in Central Canada. If we don't get out act together, we run the risk of losing our claim to being a truly national party, instead becoming just another regional rump. Want to accelerate that process? Just yank the convention from Vancouver and move it to our Liberal redoubt back East. It'll send a fantastic message.
This all really needs to be viewed through the prism of leadership politics. I don't know who is pushing the location change, but I suspect they have more supporters in Central Canada, and feel they could get more of their supporters to convention were it held here. It's all just leadership politics, and it's unsurprising they'd be looking out for number one.
The job of the national executive, however, is to look out for the best interests of the Liberal Party. And those are best served by keeping the convention in Western Canada. It would spur a lot of Liberal activity and excitement in a region that sorely needs it. And it would force leadership candidates to move beyond Liberal Fortress GTA and build candidate support across the country, including those many rural ridings in Western Canada that can send just as many delegates to convention as a Toronto riding. Such a push would be a good kick start to the renewal process needed, particularly in rural ridings.
So, I urge the national executive when it meets this weekend: come to Vancouver in May. The rain actually isn't that bad. Really. Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers