Friday, December 19, 2008


We had our local riding association AGM this week. My riding has a dynamic president who I like a lot. The candidate, who recently lost his seat, has a solid record but is less than insprirational.

This was the first AGM in this riding in 30 months. (No kidding: the last one was April 9, 2006.) When I moved to the riding I tried to volunteer, but was told that the candidate has his own group and doesn't want anyone else to be involved. I thought about running for the board but I heard from a board member that they don't meet and are never consulted. I was told I could join the women's group. The riding has a women's group that organizes a dinner dance every fall. I'm not a dinner dance kinda gal. Our candidate has a web site promoting himself but there's no riding site. I volunteered in the election and attended the one local election event I heard about, but other than that, the two AGMs and the occasional dinner dance, I have not heard of one Liberal event in this riding in the three and a half years I've lived here.

The AGM was in a legion hall and about 75 people attended. About 15% were women. There was a smattering of young people, but the room was mostly populated by old men. We had a surprise guest speaker and he spoke slower than anyone I have ever heard. He gave us 17 reasons to support our local candidate, and as far as I could tell, all of them were achievements from ten years ago or before. Our local candidate spoke and said "Brian Mulroney" when he meant "Stephen Harper."

At the meeting we heard that we have very little cash and need to raise a lot fast in case there's an election. I'm usually a pretty solid supporter but I don't know, I'm feeling sort of uninterested right now. It feels like throwing good money after bad. Sure I don't want Harper to win a majority but, truth be told, I don't like my local Liberal candidate and I don't feel any connection to the riding association. I wasn't wild about our leader in the last election and I didn't agree with his main platform policy. Meanwhile, I'm not hearing anything inspirational from the national president or the new leader. I get a lot of emails but they all just ask me for money. I just sent them more money during the coalition debacle; it seems the more I send the more emails I get asking for more.

Before the commenters start with the usual litany of "Why are you in Liblogs?", let me add that 16,000 local Liberal supporters either stayed home on October 14 or voted Green. I am not the only disheartened Liberal in Kitchener-Waterloo. Here's an equation that the Liberal leadership should think about:

Energize the base and the money will come. I'm just sayin'. We have a problem here.

See also: Anatomy of a Defeat



Brad Dillman said...

I'm new to my own riding association, and politics in general. I feel like you, though I think my assoc. is probably in better shape (though the NDP has a lock on the riding). I stand behind my president and candidate.

I agree 100% with your equation, but because I'm new I don't know what to do about it.

How do we energize the base? I'm not content to wait until someone at national HQ thinks it up... that's counter-intuitive. I'm a new, somewhat energized base member - how do I clone myself?

Anonymous said...

John Milloy should run in your riding.

Anonymous said...

You've just outined everything that is wrong withthe Liberal PArty well done. People weren't even allowed to join Liberal riding associations very easily before it was put online. Candidates and those who want to be candidates manipulate the executives and don't allow anyone else in. It's all a sham. Until membership is totally open, AGM's are scheduled by the central party yearly, with all executive positions open and all ridings are told they must accept volunteers, this party is going no where. How about manipulated membership roles and cut off dates from provincial headquarters. Forgot about that one.

Actually the Liberal Party is going backwards to where it will be totally irrelevent. Unless things change dramatically and this old boys crap stops, I'm not sure the Liberals will exist as a relevent politcal Party 5-10 years from now.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you send this post to your riding association President? You say he is dynamic and you like him, but he has to shoulder a lot of responsibility. Outside of election time, he is the one who sets the tone for the riding. If he is simply bowing out in favor of the candidate setting the tone, that is his mistake and he could change that.

The Liberals have had a new leader for about two weeks. Ignatieff is travelling and meeting with local Liberals, but it is going to take a lot longer than two weeks to change things significantly. Meanwhile, the Liberals do need to be ready to fight an election at any time and are hurting for cash. That is the reality. So, they need riding associations to help change things too and your President should be helping. Please write or talk to him.

Yappa said...

Hi Anon 9:52,

I have done that but thanks, I appreciate your comment. Re Ignatieff, I think we need to also push him and the boys at the top to reach out more effectively. I know it's only been two weeks, but it's also Ignatieff's honeymoon period and he should be making the most of it. There are a lot of Liberals who were left hanging in the air after they came to the aid of the party and supported the coalition only to have Michael dismiss it as a bad idea. It's a critical time to reach out.

I was on Michael's supporter list for both of his leadership campaigns and have received a lot of emails from his group. They were all straightforward requests for money: that seems to be his style.

I was also on Bob Rae's mailing list and he mostly sent informative, energizing emails, some of which didn't even ask for money. I sent Bob money and not Michael. I think Michael should rethink his approach. I get a lot of emails from Doug Ferguson and other senior Liberals asking me for money too, and again they don't make much if any attempt to energize me.

I attended the LPCO AGM in 2006 and there was so much talk about all the good things we could do to be a vibrant, relevant party, but I can't see that one thing has been done.