Sunday, September 17, 2006
Whatever happened to rebuilding the Liberal party?
There was once some debate about how long the Liberal leadership race should be. Some thought it should be shorter to be ready for a snap election. Others thought it should be longer to allow the party to think about what it wants to be, given some of the problems of the past.
In typical Liberal fashion, they went for the middle ground. Having the leadership race in December was a compromise outcome between the two points of view.
However, this race is months old now, and have we seen any debate within the party about the party itself? Not one mention of Adscam. Not one mention of ethics. Nothing about where the party went wrong in the past or what it needs to do to get to where it needs to be, or what where it needs to be actually is.
In terms of how the race has played out so far, it could have been over and done with by now. I don't see anything of deep substance that suggests waiting until December was necessary — at least so far. Michael Ignatieff is doing more to put his foot in his mouth than he is telling us what he's actually going to do. His people are already backing away from the idea of giving every street in the country nation status in the Constitution.
Three things about the "Red Ribbon" report released by the party in late August. First, it was released in August. Done. Second, it was about party structure and organization, not ideas or ethics. Third, it was written by a party without an elected leader and with no debate between those who want to be that leader.
Sentiment seems to be growing within the party that they've got a good shot at Harper right now. That's not how rebuilding parties ought to think. It's what parties that don't want to look a bit deeper tend to want to think.