22 November 2011

A chance. A choice. #nlpoli #cdnpoli

Original idea comparing a Canadian political party to a hockey team, but Andrew Coyne’s metaphor for the problems confronting the federal Liberal Party works.

The Liberals think of themselves like a hockey team:

It has won several Stanley Cups in a row, but by the last of those cups, it was relying on a clutch of 43-year-old veterans. With their retirement, the team has no option but to spend a few seasons in the basement, rebuilding. If it learns patience, while the draft picks mature and the losses mount, the team may in time become a winner again. If it does not, it becomes the Leafs

The current state of the federal party mirrors that of the provincial one in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Not surprisingly on any level Coyne states more simply and eloquently what your humble e-scribbler observed about the provincial Liberal crowd back in October.

Your humble e-scribbler:

To get at the Liberal problem, you’ve got to get even more basic.  When people say the Liberal Party doesn’t speak to people any more what that means is that the party no longer gives people a reason to support it.

If they want their party to survive in the future, Liberals have to figure out why anyone should care about the Liberal Party.  It's a simple enough thing to state. The answer isn't implicit in it.  And it goes to the heart of what any political party is about:

Why should anyone care?


If it is no longer the party of power, then it will have to spend some time redefining itself. In ideological terms, this means sharpening the definition. The vagueness that sufficed so long as power was in view will no longer. So the first question Liberals will have to ask is: why? Why be a Liberal, and not a member of some other party?

Coyne’s advice is that the federal Liberals should be “the party that tells it like it is”:

The Liberals, …, can instead be the bold party, the party that takes the principled stands that other parties won’t. On occasion this will take them to the left; on others, to the right.

Coyne offers sound advice.  Having a political party that speaks plainly about any subject would be such a radical departure from the pre-packaged pablum of present day politics that the Liberals would instantly stand out. 

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the same thing could work.  All three political parties say the same thing.  Just take a look at the political panels on CBC’s On Point.  Really listen to the comments.  Get beyond the superficial jabs and pokes and you will be amazed at how often the New Democrats and Conservatives say the same thing or the Liberals agree with one or the other party or sometimes both. 

Refreshing is not a word anyone would associate with any political party in Canada at the moment. Coyne is suggesting the federal Liberals give it a try.

The provincial Liberals could do that as well.  But the situation here is far worse.  The provincial Liberals not only do not seem to grasp the implications of their situation, they don’t even seem to realise they are in a situation at all.

- srbp -