Saturday, June 24, 2006

It’s not just about the leader: we need real reform

I was in Montreal on Thursday and Friday at the invitation of Intel Corp., they’re sponsoring the BMW Sauber Team in this weekend’s F1 race and they brought in some technology media to see how BMW is using Intel technology to gain a competitive edge for their drivers. And I hope to be back in Montreal again in December for competition of another sort: the Liberal leadership convention.

But as important as picking a new leader is, it is not the only factor crucial to the revitalization of our party. In fact, it may not even be the most important one, as the leader’s ability to reform the party apparatus is limited.

It will be overshadowed by the leadership race and perhaps viewed as an afterthought, but the executive positions in the LPC that will be filled in Montreal are far more important to reforming out party. And it’s not just the LPC executive but that of all the PTAs across the country, like the LPC(BC) and the LPC(0). If these positions are continually filled by the same elites, nothing will ever change in our party.

At the LPC(O) convention in May only one executive position was contested and went to election, and the rest were acclaimed. I don’t know any of the executive members so I can’t attest to their competency, but I do know acclamation is never good for democracy.

At that same convention LPC president Mike Eizenga gave a great speech where he pointed to the need for drastic reforms in our party apparatus: shrink the organization by slashing commissions and the huge national executive structure, and implement a national membership list. And fundraising is still pathetically mismanaged.

It sounded great, and I agreed with him. But as a veteran Liberal friend pointed-out to me, we’ve heard this umpteen times before and things ain’t changed a lick. Why? Because it’s a herculean task that no one as been willing to take on. Mike has been president for a year and a half and his term is ending this winter, and this was the first I’ve heard of it from him. Speaches are great but action is needed, and this smacks of too little, too late.

Also, too many people have comfortable positions that give them power and influence within the party that they don’t want to give up, even if it would be for the greater good. And that’s the problem: it’s not in the interests of the elites to change, so why would they?

As the party grassroots, we need to get more active in looking at the positions being filled beyond the party leader. And not just at LPC, but at the PTAs and commissions as well. Seek out the candidates and ask them where they actually stand on party reform, get them to commit to specific actions if they’re elected, even if it means the ending of their position.

And if the candidates are just the same old party hacks that mouth platitudes but make clear they won’t change anything, that we need to find candidates that will change things or even run ourselves.

As the grassroots we have the power to change things, but only if we choose to get active and exercise that power. It is our complacency that has let to a bloated and ineffective organization unable to respond to change; only by out getting involved will it ever change.

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1 comment:

Jeff said...

Do you mean how do we change, or what needs change?

I'll assume the latter. It's a very broad question. I think Eizenga hit on a lot of the right points. We need a national membership list so people moving provinces can maintain their membership. We need to centralize membership and other administrative functions nationally, so the PTAs can focus on organization building. We need to make the PTAs more directly responsible to the riding associations. We need to cut a lot of the bloat, with umpteen commissions and committees. Do we really need all of them? The money spent maintaining this buracracy can be better utilized elsewhere.

If you mean how do we do it, it's a matter of the grassroots flexing its muscle. Apathy breads inertia. We need to find candidates that support real reform, get them elected, and then make sure they follow through. Only if enough people committed to reform are in positions of power will reform ever happen.