Monday, January 19, 2009

"For you must know that in newly conquered kingdoms and provinces the natives are never totally subdued..."

At a recent event, attended by the most "high profile" of Liberals, in the approving presence of ILMI, I heard Bob Rae tell the gathering that "there are no Bob Rae Liberals, there are no Leblanc Liberals, there are no Martin or Chrétien or Trudeau Liberals; we are Liberals." True too then, that there no Ignatieff Liberals either, as surely while we believe in the necessity for strong leadership and loyalty to (yes, the person in whom we've placed guidance of our party in trust, but more to the office of) the Leader, we should be bound more together in our belief(s) in something: some shared principles, some common values, than in someone.

I absolutely do say this to be provocative, and I say it too in the context of change and renewal the Party needs and craves and which the current party leadership has told us it recognizes. Whether of our own free will or whether as a result of blind loyalty and naiivité, our Party has come to a point where any dissension, either with respect to opinion or process, any difference of opinion, nuanced or substantial, and most ruefully any debate, significant or not, is viewed as undesireable and disloyal: a challenge to leadership.

Well, leaders - and parties - should be challenged. Challenges make you think, often skillfully and on your feet; thinking about a challenge can make you solidify your position, or lead you to change your mind. Challenge can make you more focused or cause you to reflect on the actual interests you are pursuing. It's how you react to challenges that marks your measure. I certainly recall many lessons learned through my own (very long ago now) youthful rebellion. And, as a parent, I also know the lessons I've learned from the rebellions (or lack of - my two are very different from each other) of my own children. On that example, the lesson learned is often that the more you try to stifle youthful rebellion rather than deal with it, the more rebellious it can get!

So, while I get and respect what Rae was saying ('get with the program, people'), I certainly hope that any "restless natives" amongst us are treated as respectfully as those of who choose to accept things holus bolus.

Challenged as we have been by ILMI to examine our practices, structures, and presentation to the public (and, allow me to add, resistant to allowing PMSH to continue to view us as his conquered kingdom) let's help him get on with it in an open, bold and unafraid manner; strengthening and growing our party will not only be in his best interests, but hopefully, soon, in the country's. As long as we do it with the latter objective rather than the former in mind.


  1. Well put! Is anyone in the institutional Party out there listening?

  2. Well anon, that remains to be seen. On the face of it, the institutional party has initiated or sanctioned these change/renewal activities so they would at least appear to be prepared to listen. But of the long (long enough?)list of things to be examined, while the question of how we select our leaders makes the cut, the role of the Leader, for example does not.

    hmmm...I feel another post coming