We’ve been necessarily focused on how to reform, restructure and renew the Liberal Party of Canada, as we should be, but to be successful at refreshing liberalism in Canada and the moderate, pragmatic values we seek to promote and embody, it’s also necessary to think outside the box and beyond just the Liberal Party of Canada.
It’s time to think about how we can influence, develop and promote liberal values from outside the formal party structure. I think a way to do this that could be very beneficial to the cause is to consider the think-tank model. Common in the United States, it offers several advantages over the traditional party structure: it’s a way to develop and promote shared values and ideals and push boundaries without being tied to the formal party.
The Conservatives have already brought this model to Canada with the Manning Centre for Building Democracy. Created by Reform Party founder Preston Manning, it operates at arms-length from the Conservative Party itself. But it’s decidedly sympathetic to the conservative cause, sponsoring research and polling on conservative issues, promoting conservative values, and holding training and development colleges for conservative organizers and holding events with leading thinkers.
Operating at arms-length from formal parties, these organizations are freer to get creative and take risks. They’re places where policy can be researched, debated and proposed, as well as promoted. They’re also training grounds for the next generations of political activists and leaders.
For supporters of the Liberal cause, they also offer another significant advantage: they’re free of the fundraising and donation constraints facing Canadian political parties. While there’s no tax deductibility, for those that used to donate $5000 to the party and now face a $1100 cap, supporting such a foundation would be a way to further support the same ideas and values and help further the cause.