So, I attended my first event as an official LPoC member last night--the Party President candidates' meet & greet. A very content-ful evening, as well as a chance to say hello to blogging pals I haven't seen in awhile.
In brief, all the candidates are for opening up/democratizing the party, so everyone was singing from the same song-book, if not always from the same page. Here's a quick run-down of first impressions.
By far the smoothest presenter (in English), her opening statement was somewhat content-free and tilted a little too heavily towards self-promotion (her new book is out soon on Kindle, dontcha know). Later, though, her remarks re the LPoC's failure to work the "ethnic media", and how these 100s (in T.O. alone) of outlets might be engaged in the future, were spot on. To give an example (mine, not hers): every time I visit the little Tamil variety store down my street I pick up a copy of their English language weekly (Lanka News, I think its called), and find it stuffed with CPoC-related news--Jason Kenney looms large in their pages. And, for whatever reason, they're a bit of a soft touch; not particularly critical, in my view. But I see nothing, not even press releases, from the LPoC. The folks that read Lanka News probably do not read the Star and Globe; if you stick with the usual MSM outlooks, you're not getting your message across to them.
Mike Crawley spoke knowledgeably and, for the most part, well, although on stage it looked as though he might pull out an electric guitar at any moment and reel off a fiery solo. His key point was that circumstances have given the party a chance to reinvent itself from the ground up. He is also a "big idea" guy; the LPoC should find and promote bold new initiatives as a means of rebranding itself (not his precise words).
And that is something I'm not so enamoured of. I personally am happy with what (I thought) the LPoC has always been. That is, non-ideological and pragmatic: it will cut taxes, or spend money, or legislate, free from the ideological blinkers that constrain parties of the Canadian Left and Right. In other words, it will do what is necessary to keep the nation strong and healthy, not what its philosophical underpinnings bind it to. But I am told that that kind of pragmatism is boring, a hard sell, or signals a lack of principles. But Pragmatism is a principle and, as for its non-sexxxiness, I remember Bill Clinton saying something to the effect that he didn't care where policy came from, or who would get credit for it, if it did the job (that's a rough paraphrase).
And this worked for him.
And I would also point out that this "big idea" is supposed to "emerge from the process"; currently, people have no idea what it actually might be. I personally am unsure that anything worthy of the name is likely to make an appearance--someone would have heard about it already, no?
Of all the potentials, Mr. Hartling's delivery was probably the shakiest, but he is offering himself as an organizer, not a spokesperson, so that is perhaps by the way. His key words were "planning, planning, and planning", and as far as I could glean his notion of what the LPoC is and should be from his words, they seem pretty close to my own (ie a party that is free of ideological blinkers and etc.). He also had some interesting comments on how riding associations need to figure out what to do with new members. The riding associations really don't know how to employ their pool of volunteers between elections.
Another Ex-MP, Ms. Mendes also gave a polished performance throughout. Highlights were probably her response to Mr. Hartling--planning is not everything--and her outline of the various means the LPoC might employ to attract more women candidates. Of all the potentials, her French was clearly the best, although everyone was forced to toss off at least a few remarks in both official languages.
Other highlights included arguing with Jeff Jedras. While he is one of these "Big Idea" guys, it turns out we are both not convinced of the utility of an open primary. For technical reasons I didn't quite follow, it isn't very likely that outside parties could hijack the primary process, which was my greatest fear. On the other hand, its a kind of gimmick, and might just flop. Does anyone really expect that 1,000s of Canadians will show up to vote for the leader of a third party? Because if they don't the press will brand the whole effort a failure--a sign of the LPoC's slow death, and etc. There's also the fact that people have worked for years towards allowing party Members to directly cast a vote on the leadership--and now anyone will be allowed to do it?
Anyway, a good time was had by all, and etc. Unfortunately, I'm not likely to be able to attend the Ottawa convention in January(?). Such is life.