Thursday, September 07, 2006

I believe the children are our future

When I blogged on the Liberal Party’s Red Ribbon renewal report I wrote that, while some of the structural changes proposed in the report are useful, what is really needed in the Liberal Party of Canada is a cultural change. An attitude change. How do we make that happen? It will take a generation, but I believe it must start with the youth.

The reason politics is done the way its done in the LPC today, this valuing of power over principle and policy, is because that’s how the senior people in the party learned how to do it. Throughout their experience in the party they’ve known nothing else. It’s a learned behaviour, and where did they learn it? In the LPC’s training ground, the Young Liberals of Canada.

Now I don’t mean this to be a condemnation of the YLC. They’re following the model set by their mentors in the senior party. It becomes a continually regenerating cycle of rat fu*kery. But those that are creating paper campus clubs today will be going on to rig nomination meetings or stage hostile riding takeovers tomorrow.

It’s the wrong model. We need a new one. And that’s how we can make the cultural change that’s needed in the LPC happen. It will be hard to teach the old dogs new tricks, but if we start with reforms and a new attitude in the youth wing then we’ll have a new generation of activists that will be ready to do politics differently when they graduate into positions of leadership in the LPC.

A set of recommendations (links to a word doc via TDH) for reforming the Young Liberals BC wing by the YLC(BC)’s outgoing director, Ozren Jungic, has been circulating this week. I don’t know Ozren, but reading his report it seems like he gets it. Either that’s a rarity, or those that do get it usually keep their head down so they can get ahead, it’s tough to say.

He makes a number of good points. One, which I’ve made before about executive positions at the LPC level, is that we need to a closer look at why people are running for executive positions, and if they are truly committed to rolling up the sleeves and doing their work and building the party. Ozren made the point that too often people have run, or cast their votes, based on leadership affiliations rather than on “the merits, experience or character traits of the candidates.” And he’s exactly right. We saw the same thing happen at the last LPC leadership convention, where Martin delegates that had been planning to support one candidate for president, a person that had been campaigning hard on the ground for years, were pressured, cajoled and even threatened into voting for a more Martinite-friendly candidate that was drafted into the race very late in the game. Party members should not be treated, and should not act, like sheep. Let’s choose the right people for the right jobs based on their merits, not their connections.

Secondly, he also calls for the end of the mass signups of uninterested members, both at the party level and by campus clubs. Again, this is a case of learned behaviour that carries through to the senior party, and we’ve seen how well it works out. Furthermore, he wrote: “as Young Liberals we should refrain from relying on alcohol to sign up members who will vote for either our personal endeavours or any others related to this party.” As he put it, “these practices are immoral, embarrassing, and all too common.”

This is a very good point too. This plying of uninterested students with alcohol to join the party to support a particular candidate is deplorable, and has led to many embarrassing situations for the senior party. But alcohol aside, the key thing there is the bribery of uninterested students to join. We need to sell the party on its merits, and if that means less members then so be it. I’d rather have 50 committed people then 150 that are just there for the booze.

I hope the LPC and YL wings and campus clubs across the country take Ozren’s recommendations to heart. The Young Liberals of Canada are the training ground for our party, these are our future leaders. They are uniquely position to graduate a new generation of political activists, one that does politics differently, and one that can set an example for the LPC to emulate and make that needed culture and attitude change happen

Are there leaders in the youth wing ready to step-up and make this happen, and leaders in the senior party to support them?

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers


Olaf said...


Children are the past, my friend. Remember the 80's generation? They were hot for a while, but fizzled out ignominiously. And the 90's generation??? Even worse.


A proud member of generation 2000,


KC said...

Oz really hit the nail on the head here. These are all the reasons why I refrained from joining the party for a long time. Mass memberships, and determing the composition of executive bodies based on intra party affiliation (rather than merit) are two of my pet peeves about the way the party operates.

Anonymous said...

All this youth talk is giving me a headache. Yes, the children are the future - this is definately not a new concept or thought. We've always heard this one.

But, there has to be a balance. This assumption that someone over 21 can't have new ideas and new vision is simply "crap".

New (youth) ideas is one thing, but only if the ideas a good ones. A little seasoning really helps the recipe you know.

This discrimination is really getting on my nerves.

I'm a baby boomer (oh my God how awful) and I don't drool, I can think, I don't need depends and there is always something about experience when situations get tough.

Don't put me to pasture or bury me yet yes guys, I have a long way to go.

Anonymous said...

"Youth are the future". "Every dog has his day". "Wear clean underwear in case you're in an accident".
Yada yada yada.
YL clubs accept members and buy drinks for people who won't even pony up $11.50 for a party membership.
As long as that happens, as long as the party allows that to happen, Young Liberal Clubs are more corrupting than all the teeny Canadian flags and personalized golf balls ever handed out in Quebec.
If you're a free-beer, no-membership Young Liberal, please have enough shame to treat it as your dirty little secret. Don't, for God's sake, start another blog.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Mary-jane is a little naive to say the least.

Does she realize she's voting for separation? Huh?

Anonymous said...

Bravo to someone for finally stating publicly that we've potentially ruined a whole generation of Liberals.

In MB we've created a party of young liberals who've been told they're important and are capable of controlling the major offices. Unfortunately, the number that actually are capable are very few and tend not to be the ones running things. They just don't realize it.

Some of the worst offenders in the last leadership race were our "important" young libs.

I'm just not sure it's worth trying to reform the affected group, instead of just working with those on the fringe who have potential...

Lolly said...

Hey Jeff;
The Youth of yesterday are the GASP liberals (Gawd Awful Slimey Politicos)who have taken control of the LPC in some of the PTA's but not the ones where there has been a long history of genetic Liberals.

Politics is power is people.

Similarily: Information is Power!

It shouldn't stop there, and where there is a huge gapping hole is the simple fact that...

Sharing of Information is More Powerful!

I was not a member of the YLC when I first joined the Liberal Party, they were always the ones with the Champagne taste on a Beer budget!We were constantly bailing them out financially, so in effect the senior members enabled them to become the terrors of controlling the LPC of today.

Bless us Mother/Father for we have sinned.

Keep on bloggin Jeff, you are a good case in point of once upon a young liberal who has stayed the course, true to liberal values and principles, it is you who are the present and our future.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the sound of youth - as usual and as always historically youth are always acting out their rebellious years and whining that youth are the future and ignored and you don't give me enough and on and on and on. This is NOT new, it happens with each generation.

So, enough already.

Zac said...

Jeff, I couldn't agree more. What an awesome post.

As a young liberal, I've see the majority of this stuff first hand. I've seen campus AGM's where one person will march in 50 people who couldn't give a crap about being there just so they can gain the title of VP or President. It's non-sense.

The Young Libs should exist to write policy, get active, speak out, and direct the central party on youth issues.

It's fine to let loose with friends once and a while with a pub crawl or hospitality suite, but if your not here to improve the party and improve the country then piss off - exit to your left and never come back.

Demosthenes said...

Hey, could be worse: they could be the College Republicans.

(THAT bunch are only marginally more moral than a pack of starving Hyenas.)

Jacques Beau Vert said...

Well Jeff, in all upfront frankness, I often find you way too partisan to take very seriously - I think you're too diehard Liberal for me, a very absolute non-partisan more interested in individual candidates than the colour on their podium, very seriously.

I say that not as a jab - I could have said it a long time ago, but didn't - but as a lead-in to say that this was an impressive post from someone willing to name the elephant in the room that no one else will acknowledge. This was an important statement to make, and it's good to hear coming from a Liberal. As a voter, I'm becoming really dismayed, in the last 2 years, over tricky dealings in the Liberal backrooms, and it really gives me a great feeling to know that there are actual Liberals who agree and are calling out loud for a clean-up. That's terrific.



(Ugh, word verification sucks so much)