Monday, January 18, 2010

Better know an LPC(O) VP-organization candidate: James Curran

The biennial convention of the Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario) is coming-up in Windsor from February 5 thru 7th. Most of the executive positions have been acclaimed, but there is one big race: vice-president, organization.

With James Morton’s decision to withdraw from the race there are two candidates contesting the position: James Curran and Jamie Maloney. To help those of you that will be delegates in Windsor (alas, I won’t be able to make it myself) I prepared a few questions for the candidates about their experience, and their priorities for the position and for the Liberal Party.

This morning, I brought you the answers from Jamie Maloney. This afternoon I bring you the answers from James Curran (who may be better known to blog readers as the What Do I Know Grit). Be sure to seek them both out in Windsor to learn more about them and then cast your votes for the candidate that best reflects your concerns and priorities.

(Note: I present their answers unedited and unabridged. The same questions were asked of both candidates. Both candidates submitted their answers by Sunday evening, so neither had the opportunity to review the other's answers before responding.)

Why do you want to be the vice-president for organization?

I want to make it clear that I expressed my intention to be Vice President Organization for the LPC(O) over a year ago, long before the riding President for Etobicoke Lakeshore announced his intention to stand. In fact, I launched my campaign at the Leadership Convention in Vancouver in 2009 with the reception entitled ONTARIO! Ours to Recover. It was a successful event bringing Liberals together from coast to coast exchanging ideas about grassroots involvement.

Over the past several years, I have seen that the position of VP Org has been neglected, in terms of energy, commitment and resources, and coincidentally, we have seen a dramatic drop in Liberal held seats in Ontario. This is unacceptable.

My bottom-line is that I want to work hard for the Leader and the Liberal Party of Canada and build the necessary team and framework to ensure that we are successful in our efforts to elect more Ontario Liberal Members of Parliament in the next election and that we are in the best possible position to form the next government.

I want to ensure that all of the Ontario ridings and their campaigns are completely prepared for an election. In order to achieve this, we must professionalize the Liberal Party's campaign-waging abilities by ensuring that ridings and campaigns have the best tools, training and assistance at their disposal when they need it.

I believe that we always need to be working, developing, building. The status quo may be acceptable when we are winning or when we hold government. I don't think that I need to point out the position in which we now find ourselves.

The status quo is no longer acceptable.

We need to break out of our current holding position with new energy, new ideas and yes . . . new people. We cannot afford to have placeholders occupying important positions at any level of the Party, simply because of who they are. We need people who are committed to rebuilding OUR PARTY from the foundations up!

What experience and background do you bring to this position, both inside and outside the party?

First and foremost, I am a life-long Liberal.

I have organized at the local, provincial and national level for many different candidates and causes. In addition, I have been giving seminars on campaigns and internet strategies for campaigns over the last two years in order to assist the future leaders of this province in their quests for office.

My experience working with the grassroots of the Party is one of my clear strengths. In addition to being elected as a four-time riding president, I have a strong network of Liberal friends, colleagues and contacts, from Thunder Bay to Niagara Falls and from Windsor to Ottawa and all points between. These are active Liberals who work the telephones, raise funds, build the membership and who are all joined by the common desire for the Liberal Party to represent the best this country has to offer.

I have business and management experience in both the hospitality and real estate industries.

Finally, I am passionate and pragmatic with respect to the job ahead. I realize that there are significant tasks that must be immediately undertaken if we are to rebuild our Party in Ontario and regain so many of our lost seats. After consulting with a wide range of committed Liberals from across the Province, I have developed a serious plan to tackle our challenges and build on the foundation that is already in place.

What is the biggest challenge facing the Liberal Party of Canada in Ontario today?

All Parties are challenged by the ambivalence and apathy that has permeated throughout the political system, in large part due to the focus on strategy and tactics, rather than solid policy development and meaningful dialogue.

While at the riding level, fundraising in most parts of the province is a challenge, I believe if we look at the bigger picture, the most significant challenge facing the federal Liberal Party in Ontario is that we have not rationalized a general and coordinated strategy for the organization.

To put it bluntly, we have no plan to implement and therefore, there is little or no buy-in from the members and ridings and this affects all aspects of the Party's operations, from membership to fundraising and from policy to participation.

We are having difficulties attracting new members and ensuring that we are a Party that is growing, rather than a Party in decline.

We must address these fundamental shortcomings by focusing on the creation and implementation of a solid plan.

We must once again become a party of inclusion, rather than exclusion.

We must identify and recruit new leaders and ensure that they are given a chance for meaningful participation and are developed into the Party's future leadership.

We must ensure that merit is at the centre of inclusion, not nepotism or backroom manipulation.

Our Party must continue its efforts to modernize our data collection, management and use, and we must continue the great efforts made by Rocco Rossi to ensure that our fundraising base is fully utilized and that strategies are developed to secure new revenue streams at both the riding and LPC(O) levels.

Specifically on the fundraising front, we must work to secure every vote possible during elections and this means winning BIG where we are strong and fighting for every last vote in challenging ridings, so that we receive the maximum possible share of the $1.75 per vote.

What is your view of a 308-riding strategy?

First Jeff, I’d like to thank Navdeep Bains, Steve MacKinnon and the entire committee for publishing the Liberal 308 document and the countless hours they spent assembling it.

The 308 riding strategy as it applies to Ontario reflects the Liberal Party of Canada's commitment to Ontario voters to show that every riding counts, that every person in every riding counts.

The 308 riding strategy is premised on the fact that the Liberal Party of Canada will be A GOVERNMENT FOR ALL CANADIANS, not like the Harper Government that only looks out for the narrow interests of a select few and who chooses to divide, rather than unite and to create friction and division among Canadians.

Practically, the 308 riding strategy means that we must ensure that each riding reaches its potential and that we have meaningful representation and strong campaigns in each area of the country.

To reiterate my comments from above, we must work to secure every vote possible during elections and this means winning BIG where we are strong and fighting for every last vote in challenging ridings, so that we receive the maximum possible share of the $1.75 per vote.

How will you ensure organization is a party priority in unheld and so-called “no-hope ridings” both during and before an election campaign?

There is no such thing as a "no hope" riding in my opinion. In my opinion any riding can be won within 2 or 3 elections with the right approach, but that takes resources, training and funds. By teaching all ridings how to squeeze every possible vote for the lowest possible cost, we can increase the party's resources for the next election. More votes equals more money, more money equals more votes. This is a building process until we can win any given riding. We know that it is possible, because we have done it before.

What are your top three priorities if elected?

1. To professionalize the Liberal Party's campaign-waging abilities and Riding Association practices;

2. To develop and implement a Organizational Strategic Plan, based on best practices for campaigns and Riding Associations; and

3. To ensure that there is a proper budget allocated for Organization along with the formation of an Organization Committee (there currently isn't one).

How will you work to build a team and get new people involved that perhaps haven’t been involved in the party or in organizational roles in the past?

As I stated above, "merit" must be at the heart of our team-building efforts.

As part of the Organizational Strategic Plan, there will be a considerable component that will develop an identification and recruit process that starts at the Riding Association level and goes up to the LPC(O) Executive level. This may be one of the most important aspects of the job of VP Organization, as many active and dedicated Liberal members from across the province and across the country are feeling alienated, ignored and, in many cases, disrespected by the entrenched powers within the Party.

I will practice what I preach, which is constant and sustained outreach efforts. I will give every member, every Canadian a say and a stake in the future of this Party.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I have been to over many, many Delegate Selection Meetings and Annual General Meetings over the past few months engaging Liberals on the front line - in their ridings. I am already on the job identifying the "problems" and "issues" affecting the riding associations.

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1 comment:

Eugene Forsey Liberal said...

Curran is a good guy (I endorsed him). On a different matter, Harper & democracy, I came across a website,, with some useful banners & resources dedicated to educating people about the essential issue, that goes beyond prorogation & Saturday rallies.