Friday, January 23, 2009

“Important principles may and must be inflexible.”

Okay, so not Cervantes, but Abraham Lincoln.

We all seem to agree that the Party needs to change, and also that the Party needs to renew and rebuild. But what is the basis, the starting point? Should we not agree on that first?

The Change Commission will seek the opinions of party members on 9 broad but ultimately process questions and the Renewal Committee will examine some specific structural but also process areas. The two processes to examine processes are to be "linked", but how are they to be linked substantively? Some might say that they are linked through their discussions of the grassroots and encouraging grassroots engagement, and while that is a good thing, it is still much more about the how and the what, rather than the why. In both cases, even the questions related to policy are about the process of policy development; there is no question related to on what those policies should be based.

What is it that Liberals believe in? Are we/should be not be bound by some fundamental beliefs and core values? Is it not those beliefs and values that should encourage Canadians to engage with us; to place their faith in us through their votes because they will know instinctively what we stand for? Is it not those beliefs and values that should be examined in the context of both change and renewal? Should not those beliefs and values have themselves a common basis in principle? Perhaps it is that we must change to be more reflective of our principles and renew to get back to them.

It is such set of simple, clear principles that should guide both our presentation to the public (policy, platform and legislation) and our deportment (governance and process).

When a prospective member signs up online,
they are asked to tick a box declaring that they support Liberal philosophies and principles
, but they would be hard bound to find a statement of exactly what it is they are declaring to support.

There is one. And I for one happen to believe that it is a pretty good one. It is contained in the Preamble to the LPC Constitution. But I am not sure that much of the rest of the document is very reflective of the principles outlined, and I think that this should be the key question asked in every other examination: how is your suggestion, proposal or recommendation in keeping with the principles to which the Liberal Party of Canada is dedicated?

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