Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I'm done with witch-hunts and fighting old battles

As an ardent and early supporter of Stephane Dion (still first in my heart) you could argue I should be sympathetic to this line of argument from journalist turned Liberal staffer turned journalist again Mark Dunn, but actually I'm decidedly not.

Do we need renewal and change, and fresh blood? Absolutely. But while it may be of interest to Sun readers, I'm one Liberal who has no interest in revisiting who undermined whom three years ago or drawing-up an enemies list of undesirables to be purged from the ranks.

In fact, it's exactly that kind of mentality that has been one of our party's biggest problems over the years: we're unwilling to let go of past nonsense. Instead, we perpetuate a never-ending cycle revenge in which everyone always believes they're on the side of the angels.

It's not too hard to trace back. John Turner beats Chretien for the leadership; Turner's people feel Chretien undermines them so they go to work for Paul Martin to get revenge. Chretien beats Martin for the leadership, and Chretien's people feel Martin undermines him. You could probably trace it back to Laurier if you had the patience, but I think we've all forgotten how the war started. We just march off to the battlefield because that's what we do.

At some point, it has to stop. Some people were puzzled when I decided to support Michael Ignatieff in the last leadership race. They wondered how I could do that, as a Dion supporter, with what his people allegedly did to undermine Stephane. Well, for one thing, whatever his people did they certainly weren't alone. But more importantly, I'm going to make my decision based on the candidate, not his supporters. And building blacklists is neither helpful or productive. And it just continues a cycle of stupidity.

This is a time for renewal, and it's a time for fresh faces. But who supported who in a leadership race, whether it was 1984 or 2006, shouldn't be a consideration. I want to see change at the top because of job performance, not tribal politics. We need to move past the desire to settle old scores and right old wrongs, real or imagined. Let's judge people on their ideas and performance, not their past affiliations.

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Dan F said...

Sorry Jeff, I can never forgive the way Edward Blake undermined the PMO of Alexander Mackenzie, leading to the defeat in the 1878 election. Its the reason Blake never got to be Prime Minister, and we had to suffer through Conservative rule all through the 1880s. The gloating continues to this day; there is even a club within the party dedicated to Blake that does nothing but poke fun at Mackenzie supporters.

Jeff said...

You know who always stayed loyal and above the fray, Dan? Chubby Powers. He was a team player.

FederalPapers said...

I have strong suspicions about the actions of Wilfred Laurier's people. I will never forget!

Anonymous said...

Of course, Chubby's grandson was Lawrence Cannon, which means he basically undermined the entire Liberal party - it just took 60 years. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

WesternGrit said...

Jeff... Great post.

I agree with you whole-heartedly (even though - for non-partisan reasons - I feel some people need to step down).

I supported Chretien, then Martin, then Ignatieff (but fought f'n hard for Dion, and even defended the Green Shift). I was behind Ignatieff (even though I noted some serious challenges) right up to election night - after which it becomes the duty of every Liberal to consider a leadership review). Mr. Ignatieff ignominiously stepped down for the benefit of the party.

I've always believed - since my early days of watching politics- that party should always come first. If you're a true "chess-master" you think several steps ahead. How is the success of the party impacted by my actions? That should always be the first thought of EVERY elected and unelected Liberal.

Thanks for sharing.