In biology, devolution is the return of a specie to an earlier form. In politics, it is the return of power to its original roots. It is what the Liberal Party of Canada has to do to become an effective power again in federal politics. And it will—if the people who think they run the party would just get out of the way and let it happen.
But they do not seem to be willing. Whether from obduracy or ignorance, the powers that be in the Liberal Party are resisting the changes in party governance that are desperately needed to revitalize the party. These people want to keep a top-down management of the party until the last Liberal leaves the Parliament Buildings.
By far the most widely discussed resolution slated for debate at the party’s biennial conference, slated for January 13 to 15, is the resolution on democratic renewal of the party. It has been obvious to Liberal Party members for quite some time that the basic problem is the top-down management of the party from Ottawa. It simply does not work. This top-down approach has destroyed three party leaders in a row. It has destroyed almost 100 riding associations across Canada and more are heading for trouble. Never before has it been so obvious that management of the party from Ottawa does not work.
And yet, party management is trying to delay democratic reform. This resolution they wrote for the party to vote on in January would stall any change in how the party functions for at least three years. In three years, the party will have chosen a new leader and be heading into a federal election against Harper’s Tories. Defeating Harper will take precedence over party reform. Another report on reform will be shelved.
The answer is that if people want to debate the issues, no more than a year should be allowed for all discussion. An all-member Internet vote can then be held on any proposed changes. And, if all else fails, party members have to make it clear to all candidates that they will only vote for a leadership candidate who makes a pledge to only use the power to appoint candidates where there is no active electoral district association.
There are few periods when a party can truly renew itself. The Liberal Party has that time while Mr. Harper shows Canadians his real intentions. It is giving Liberals a chance to examine where they are going and how they want to get there. They might be surprised at the answers.
Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry
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