Thursday, January 12, 2012

Kyle Harrietha’s eight-page plan for Liberal membership

Before Christmas, when I wrote about why I was supporting Kyle Harrietha for Liberal membership secretary I spoke about his dedication to the Liberal cause, working for the party on the ground in Atlantic Canada and in Toronto, helping to rebuild a Liberal riding association in Northern Alberta, and working as a staffer on Parliament Hill. I also mentioned he was preparing a rather detailed policy agenda that spoke to not just his priorities as membership secretary, but to his ideas for building a more member-drive Liberal Party. I’m pleased to say that platform has now been released, and I encourage you to take the time to give it a read:

'Open Platform for Liberals' by Kyle Harrietha

Since he first sent me a copy I’ve been teasing Kyle about the length, but the fact is it’s a very detailed and comprehensive document that shows how much he has thought about the issues facing our party, and how seriously he takes the challenges ahead. Presidential candidate Mike Crawley also has a pretty detailed platform but otherwise, I think Kyle's is the most meaty on offer from any of the candidates by a healthy margin.

The platform is divided into four sections. The first focuses on “values & principles” and makes a very simple point: if we’re to be successful as a party we need to lead with our values and our principles and our members need to be able to articulate and carry those values forward. That’s why Kyle would work with members to create a plain-language “Red Book” for Liberals, a ,member’s handbook if you will, outlining our values and principles, our history, our structure, and other information to help members engage in a conversation with Canadians and grow the party.

The second section is focused on “dialogue & relationship building” and recognizes the importance of providing our members the training, tools and skills they need to succeed in whatever they wish to in the party, whether its policy development, communications, or campaign organization. Too often, I can tell you, we’re just tossed into a campaign to sink or swim and any training is ad hoc. Kyle’s proposals include creating a comprehensive curriculum for all aspects of riding and campaign management and an online forum for sharing best practices. I had no formal training before I became a campaign manager in the last election; Kyle’s proposals are very necessary.

The third section is called “transparency & integrity” and addresses an issue dear to my heart: reforming the nomination process. There will be some tinkering around the edges in Ottawa with a constitutional amendment proposed to limit leader appointments to 25 (including any incumbents he or she wishes to protect) but we need to do much more. While he doesn’t commit to supporting an outright ban (I’ll keep pushing him on that) he does suggest a number of other very needed reforms publishing all cutoff deadlines at least three months in advance, having clear and consistent guidelines for nomination candidates, make the “greenlight” process ongoing and timely and approving candidates to seek a nomination in any riding, not just a specific one. While there’s been much debate around candidate appointments, and rightly so, the secretive “greenlight” candidate approval process has been abused for years by the Liberal establishment to stack the deck for their preferred candidates. Kyle is absolutely right to recognize this process needs both serious reform and the disinfectant that is sunshine.

Finally, the fourth section is dedicated to “organization & leadership.” Recognizing the advent of the permanent campaign (well, it’s been here for a little while now but we’re catching-up) Kyle has a number of proposals to modernize our voter identification and mobilization systems, such as micro-targeting data for predictive vote modeling, continuous voter and brand research and creating an open, data-driven culture. I also like his ideas for a 36-36-36 approach to campaign organization, with planned action increasing in intensity in the 36 months, days and weeks leading up to election day. This includes a strategic communications plan utilizing our caucus members into all ridings, regular events across the country, and working with every level of the party, EDA, PTA and national, to define their responsibilities and help them deliver against them.

I think this is a great platform that shows a depth of understanding of the challenges facing our party developed from years of working for the Liberal cause in the trenches, and puts forward concrete deliverables that can begin to move us in the right direction. And it all comes down to membership: recognizing that as members we have not just rights, but responsibilities. This platform will help arm members with some of the tools we need to fulfill that responsibility, and that’s one of the reasons Kyle has my support for membership secretary.

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