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Liberals should debate and discuss – and publicly too!

If you don’t know who John Lennard is; a) he’s a Liberal (a Young Liberal), b) he recently as of last year ran for the Young Liberals of Canada presidency, which he lost in a tie vote due to a coin flip (those are YLC rules on how to break a tie vote), c) he writes at a blog that is a member of Progressive Bloggers and also a member of the Liberal blogging aggregates (though he hasn’t blogged in a bit due to work and school commitments), and c) he used to be a staffer for Bob Rae.

He’s gotten a lot of media time lately in recent media outlets for comments/suggestions he’s made on what the Liberal Party needs to do to regain power.

Now, I don’t agree with a lot of what John says on a couple of his points.He advocates that the Liberals move to the political right to gain more votes. I think they’ve already moved right under Ignatieff, and they’ve ignored their major centre-left people in the party (Kennedy and Trudeau specifically), and it’s not done them any good in the polls, nor will it in an election campaign. Most of the vote pool in this country is to the centre-left, and that’s where I think they should be appealing to. I agree with Warren that voters who are “conservative” won’t vote for Conservative-lite. You also alienate your progressive Liberal base and other potential progressive voters.. so the Liberals will go nowhere using that strategy, in my opinion.

On getting rid of the public financing system for our elections, I’ve disagreed with John before that we should ditch it.. so I won’t get into a lengthy discussion on that, but I applaud John for bringing those ideas up for debate and discussion. Too often in the Liberal Party, the only time issues seem to get debated and discussed in public is at our infrequent leadership and policy conventions.. so if John can start a discussion amongst the Liberal grassroots, and -wonder of wonders – the official Liberal Party organs, including the YLC, that is nothing but a good thing.

In retrospect, perhaps it was also a good thing John didn’t win the YLC presidency.. it’s perhaps allowed him to be a bit more free in issuing the views he has, and not fearing any blowback in an official capacity of the Liberal Party, which is perhaps the answer to this Liberal blogger supporter’s questions about that.


11 comments to Liberals should debate and discuss – and publicly too!

  • Meagan Trush

    Good point on that last bit Scott.

    I am not so foolish to have failed to consider that the YLC probably has to toe the party line with precision. Honestly though, it would be nice to see a little more engagement out of the them. Synchronized clapping at Ignatieff events and supporting Grit candidates in membership drives are great and stuff, but for a group of bright “leaders of tomorrow”-type individuals, we’ve been awfully low on novel ideas. Its nice to see some honest and thoughtful discussion among young progressives, whether you agree with JJ or not.

    For the record, I do very much like a lot of people who are involved in the YLC/JLC and think that they play an important role.

  • Redrum

    Well, they _are_ doing it publicly in blogs like these.

    But the corporate Post & CTV are only putting this guy out there front & centre because his current views & suggestions are more conservative than both the parties are being right now, so they know it can cause difficulties for the Libs no matter what the outcome and likley get the Cons. to start cutting, too. (Are they featuring the ACTUAL President of the Young Libs who’s asked to be? er, no.) Just like the way some of the media outlets give Senator Kenny the spotlight every time he goes off the reservation (but you never hear much about the considered opinions of those Liberal Senators doing the heavy, sensible lifting on Committees).

  • (Oh, and as a point of clarification: an American social conservative isn’t the same thing as a neo-conservative. The latter are more the “reduce the size of government until it can be drowned in a bathtub” crowd.)

    (You know…”fiscal conservatives”.)

  • … And I refuse to use the term “Conservative” to reflect on fiscal responsibility. There are many ways a gov’t can be non-conservative and spend strategically to boost the economy and help the people (total free enterprise capitalism is not good for democracy – as we see down South)…

  • And, Darlene, there’s no such thing as “fiscally conservative and socially liberal”. Programs that help people cost money. If you aren’t willing to pay for them, you won’t get them.

  • I think the Liberal record of economic stewardship should be the key point for us “fiscally pragmatic” Liberals… That is the main issue… It is why the so-called “conservative” Harper has put us in a $56 Billion deficit. He’s not fiscally conservative – he’s a “So-Con” – pure social conservative a la US NeoCon So-Cons.

    Darlene – I think most of liberaldom is fiscally responsible while being socially conscious – that’s why we’re in this party. If we were left on both items we’d be in the NDP.

    • Darlene

      Western Grit, yes I understand that about the Liberals and I am a card carrying member. I strongly oppose any talks of mergers with the NDP for that very reason.

      Demosthenes, unfortunately you didn’t understand what I meant by kitchen table economics. I’ll give you an example:

      You have a daughter that loves to dance and she’s quite good and shows promise. As it stands you cannot afford to send her to classes. What you do is sit down at the kitchen table and figure out what you can give up so she can have her classes. You decide that going out for dinner once a week isn’t as important and give that up so she can pursue her dream.

      Some people will refer to this as prioritizing on a budget. It’s something the Conservatives are awful at. Speaking of read Bowie’s blog for the new Liberal campaign. Well done Liberals.

      • @Darlene, I didn’t have an issue with “kitchen table economics”. The problem is the term “fiscal conservative and social liberal”. It implies that you’re trying to have your cake and eat it too; to get social liberalism on the cheap. It doesn’t work that way. As I said, you have to pay for things.

        Oh, and that’s something that’s a little odd. Why isn’t Mr. Lennard talking about the REVENUE side? Harper, last I checked, ruined the budget not by going crazy with spending, but through ill-conceived, poorly-timed taxation cuts.

        So why is a problem that was caused with revenue cuts being solved with spending cuts? Because the people who are advocating those cuts—including, sadly, Mr. Lennard—apparently don’t see themselves as the kind of people who need the social safety net in the first place. That’s for the “little people”.

        (“Social” or “fiscal”, there’s nothing “liberal” about such an attitude. But there it is, nonetheless.)

  • The Meagan Thrush comment/complaint is a bit surprising. The man is advocating a course of action (lowering deficits, cuts in spending, privatized party funding, and no revenue increases) that would be wildly popular with Canada’s upper class.

    And she’s wondering why he’s getting a soapbox on CTV and in the National Post?

    That’s like a right-wing Young Democrat getting space in the Wall Street Journal for saying that Social Security should be privatized and the Affordable Care Act should be repealed. It doesn’t mean he’s got a worthwhile message. It just means that, for conservatives, he’s got a convenient message.

  • Darlene

    I happen to agree with the guy. There are many of us that are socially progresssive, but fiscally conservative. To coin a phrase, he’s talking kitchen table economics. In times like these that resonates with the adverage voter.

    There is a difference between the real world and politics. Harper pretends he gets it by playing to the Timmy drinking and hockey playing crowd. Iggy gets by showing us all of his new initiatives, his only failure is not putting it into financial reality for us fiscal conservative types. Harpers tapped into them and the Liberals need them back.

    • Redrum

      @Darlene, now that you’ve defined it below, I wouldn’t take too much credit for ‘coining’ that “kitchen table” phrase to describe making sensible economic decisions that affect ordinary Canadians’ households, if I were you, or even use it, given the opp. you also expressed to cozying op to the NDP, given that it was:

      Jack Layton who was using it to great effect in 2008, and it’s still a centrepiece of his page today

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