Saturday, March 10, 2007

Renewal, and generational change

A CanWest story this weekend says up to 12 current Liberal MPs have or will be announcing they won't be running in the next election. While the Con talking heads are already spinning, in fact this is a great opportunity to breath some young, progressive fresh air into the Liberal Party and make some of the renewal we've all been talking about happen.

Certainly a lot of the retiring MPs will be missed. I'd like to send a particular shout-out to Andy Scott, a great guy who was our “twin MP” in Vancouver Island North and was a regular visitor and great help to our riding association, even after his return to cabinet. As for some of the other retiring MPs, well, let's just say I was never a big Jean Lapierre fan, and I won't be mourning Paul Steckle's retirement.

Now, as I said, the Cons have already been trying to spin something here, but then again, what else would they do? Here's CPC spinner Tim Powers over at MacLean's:

However, you have to wonder why more Liberals are dropping off the ticket than joining it. In the last 48 hrs, three former cabinet ministers have said they don't think Team Liberal is such a dream boat and have started to swim to shore. What is it that Andy Scott, Jim Peterson and Joe McGuire haven't shared with the rest of us?
Ably countered by our own CalgaryGrit:
First off, when MPs in their 60s announce they're not going to run again, it doesn't mean the ship is sinking - it means that they want to golf and play bridge, rather than spend every waking hour away from their families heckling each other in the House of Commons. I could just as easily ask what Ken Epp and John Williams haven't shared with the rest of us about the Conservative electoral chances in Edmonton?
Heck, even Peter Stoffer is able to stop spinning and talk like a person, and he's in the NDP!:
Stoffer discounted suggestions a Liberal wave of desertions is about to start because Prime Minister Stephen Harper's momentum appears to be growing.

He noted many of the Liberals have been in the Commons for years and said Dion is "probably looking for a younger Liberal party, a newer Liberal party."
Exactly. We have a very veteran caucus, and it's not surprising that a number of them are ready to move on. They're earned their retirement, and this is a great opportunity for party renewal.

As Sinestra notes, this opens up a number of very winnable ridings that could be used, not only to get more female candidates, but more actual female MPs. And male or female, young, energetic, bright and progressive new MPs.

A new and renewed Liberal team to take on a Harper team that, despite dumping taxpayer money off the back of a truck, has still failed to resonate with Canadians. No wonder Timmy is spinning hard.

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susansmith said...

I'm so sorry to see my local MP is retiring. I have cherished his gun christmas card with peace on earth inscription.

Bailey said...

You're right, I think some of these MPs retiring presents an excellent opportunity for some younger more progressive Liberals to run.

I don't think there is any conspiracy or that they are rats fleeing a sinking ship. Look at the ages of some of those who are retiring. Or even Paul Steckle, he supported Dion for leadership, why would he now leave when they man who he supported for leadership? He's leaving because he's been there for a long time and wants to move with his life.

And as for Peter Stoffer's comments - there is a reason why he is one of the most well liked MPs in the House of Commons today and is well liked by his constituents. I think he won an award from Macleans for most congenial MP or something like that.

IslandLiberal said...

With the exception of Owen, these guys are all in their second or third decade of service, with an average length of 15 years of service, more than double the average length of seven or so; Peterson is in his 23rd year, non-consecutive, while others have been around since 1988 or 1993. They've either done their time in Cabinet or missed the window of opportunity.

Plus, they've likely all got absolutely awesome pensions built up by now.

Gayle said...

Why even give the conservative conspiracy theories any coverage at all? Liberals need to get their own message out and stop lowering themselves to responding to the conservative spin.

The conservatives know they cannot win on their own merit, so the only thing they have left is to discredit the liberals as much as possible.

rockfish said...

It's called renewal and new blood, nothing that the Cons could inject without the help of Barry Bonds' personal 'trainer dude'... Powers is such a dweeb, even when he's singing from the Harpor song sheet he sounds like a milk-toast patsy. Is it the glasses or just the anal fistula half-grin that reminds me of Scott McLellan when ever I see him on TV?

Of course, Harpor is just loading up on photo-copied liberal-lite wallflowers here in suburbia in hopes of packing the backbenches with his echo chamber of silence during a majority. Having lived through the first Gordo-Campbell term, I know people will amazingly shut up and shovel s**t for the glory of being in government, no matter who much they do a disservice to their constiuents. Did you hear me, Emersin?!

Jason Hickman said...

There is something to the argument that a lot of these MPs have been there since '93, if not longer, and therefore have good reason to move on. Being an MP can be a thankless job, and given that the "Class of '93" MPs have been at it for almost 14 years, it's more than reasonable for them to take the Trudeau-esque walk in the snow.

That said, there was a similar noticeable retirement of veteran federal PC MP's before '93.

I'm not saying Dion's heading for a wipeout at all - it's far too early in the day to tell. But sometimes, if not often, MPs are better at seeing which way the wind's going to blow than those of us on the outside, and they act accordingly.

If I was a Grit MP who had been at it for at least 14-odd years, and who had enjoyed being in govt for almost all of that time, I don't know if I'd really want to take another run at the job unless I was pretty confident that my team was going to win. I suspect that if Dion was a shoe-in, we'd be seeing fewer of these retirement stories.

Koby said...

Alas, Wappel was not among the 12.

IslandLiberal said...

I just don't understand how he keeps getting reelected. I'm a card-carrying Liberal, but I could never vote for him.

Jeff Smith said...

Great post - and right on point as are most of the comments. However, I've just one cautionary note and that is, I don't think we need to hit the "young" criteria so hard when describing the kind of candidates Liberals need to attract. "New blood" is more to the point. While its great to have younger MPs, we also need some older established but newly elected MPs who understand what it means to have worked through a resession, understand international trade issues and understand what it means to raise and pay for a family through day care, grade school and university. New ideas and fresh energy are what counts - young at heart, not just young in age.