The Liberal Party of Canada's summer caucus meetings begin today in Ottawa, and I've already heard some rumblings and musings from those quarters that give me pause, and cause for concern.
When I read comments about how the passing of Jack Layton and the upcoming leadership challenges the NDP will face provide opportunity to the Liberals, I grow concerned. When I read about how this could be a shortcut back to power for the Liberal Party, or at least relevancy, I get upset.
The fact is, the problems the Liberal Party faces have absolutely nothing to do with the NDP and everything to do with us. And the idea that we could simply seize an opportunity created by external events to return to prominence is exactly the kind of short-sighted, short-term thinking that has plagued this party for years, and contributed to the slow rot that has led us to our current state. It's the same mentality that had us put off meaningful reform for years, because if we just got the right bright shiny leader, and we just waited for Harper to stumble, then all would be will in Liberaldom once more.
We must cure ourselves of that thinking. At the extraordinary convention this summer we committed to a long-term course of rebuilding and restructuring. From the biennial this winter, the election of a new national executive, policy debate and constitutional reform in the years ahead, and a real leadership race with a strong field of contenders. We need to keep our eyes on that path and what we need to accomplish, and not be distracted by whatever challenges the other parties may face.
I was on CJAD in Montreal this weekend to talk about Layton, and I was asked what the Liberals could learn from Jack Layton's example. To me, it was fairly clear: for better or for worse, people always knew what Layton and the NDP stood for. Sure, there were politically-motivated deviations, like their stance on the HST and their rejection of carbon pricing – but by and large, if you asked someone what the NDP stood for, they could tell you. And they haven't been able to say the same thing of the Liberal Party in some time.
Harper can stumble, and the NDP can face challenges holding their coalition together. And our caucus should use this period in the House of Commons to show Canadians we can provide the kind of effective, practical and principled opposition they're looking for. But the fact is, until we get out house in order and our act together, external forces mean nothing. It's not them; it's us.
There can be no shortcuts, and if you're not in this for the long-haul you may as well hop off now.Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers