By John Ibbitson, Globe and Mail, November 7, 2011
By proposing a series of primary contests to choose their next leader, the federal Liberals are gambling that they can convert a tired and increasingly marginalized party into a powerful new movement for social and political change.
What kind of movement? And what kind of change? Primaries may go some way to providing an answer – if, that is, the Liberals can keep the other parties from hijacking the process.
The party executive will unveil a series of proposed reforms in a report later this week, to be decided upon at the party’s January convention. One of those proposals is for the Liberals to adapt the American system of political primaries to a Canadian setting when the party chooses a new leader in 2013.
“We need to give an opportunity to Canadians to have a voice in choosing who our next leader is,” Interim Leader Bob Rae said Monday in an interview. “We want to break the mould a little bit.”
Under existing rules, the Liberal Party leader is chosen by a vote of all paid-up party members. But only a tiny fraction of the population actually belongs to a political party.
The Americans, in contrast, choose their presidential candidates by holding primaries or caucuses in each state over the course of several months, with all those who identify themselves as a Democratic or Republican party supporter able to cast a ballot.
Here is one voice that says unequivocally, "No!" to turning the Liberal Party into a party that concentrates more on "process" than on " policy" and this move to some form of primary selection process for the next leader is nothing but a marketing ploy to generate money and some "hype" as if that was what Canadians are looking for.
That is not what Canadians want.
We want some vigorous policy ideas that, because they constitute deep and profound research and complex creativity and long-range courage on the part of Canadians who embrace them, will move the country out of the regression that is taking place under Harper, and provide a viable alternative.
Where is the beef in this proposal? And clearly, the beef is not in the bun of "primary selection".
We do not want a leader because s/he is a "star"!
We do not want a leadership selection process that is even potentially skewed by either or both of the other political parties, through their open opportunity to vote as a way of sabotaging the Liberal process.
Politics, in Canada, is not, nor should it be or become an American "one-off" which is clearly how this process is portrayed.
We have had more than enough of "reality shows" that mimick the American showmanship.
We have had more than enough of political process theatre.
We want and need political "beef" expressed through policies and progams that speak to the legitimate needs of Canadians who are hungry, out of work, out of school and out of options.
How the leader is selected is the last item that any political party should be conerned about, and the brazen "marketing:" ploy is really little more than a "fundraising" scheme, that fails to require the building of sustainable relationships between the party and the voter.
This is a bad idea, demonstrating that the professional Public Relations and Marketing people have hijacked the party, and the policy people might just as well find a different political party to express our concerns.