Fixing the big red machine
In today's paper, a story on how the Liberals are proposing to retool the Big Red Machine, including a $2.5-million plan to set up a permanent "national call centre." Up to now, Liberal party fundraising has been handled mainly by volunteers and the now-banned practice of holding events to lure corporate cash.
That's just one proposal from the members of the national executive, however. For the full, six pages' worth of their ideas to bring the party back from the brink, click on this link. Download FinalConventionDocument.1
The yellow-highlighted areas show what's changed since November, when the Liberals first unveiled their so-called "roadmap to renewal." On the phone with me yesterday, party president Alf Apps said the amendments are the product of many conversations and meetings between Liberals across the country over the past month. He also gave me some more details of the convention, which promises to be heavily focused on nuts and bolts (never a fun thing for journalists to cover -- we always have more fun reporting on internal Liberal warfare.) A few more details, which couldn't fit in today's story:
* Scheduled speakers for the convention, booked and confirmed to date, include Don Tapscott, billed as an author, speaker and advisor on media, technology and innovation, as well as Munir Sheikh, former chief statistician of Canada. Apps says the speakers show the party is serious about modernization, as well as facts and evidence. (He did try to make me guess who the speakers were, and I failed.)
* Apps predicts that the most intense, heated debates on the floor of the convention will revolve around this new class of Liberal "supporters" and just how much clout they will have. Some long-time Liberals want to make sure that membership still has its privileges, as they say.
* Apps is surprised at how little resistance there has been toward the idea of centralizing the party's machinery, and away from the traditionally turf-protective commissions at the provincial and territorial level. The idea of one, national bank account, one centrally managed list of members, for instance, appears to be going over well.
* This whole business of the call centre is largely aimed at building a voter database that's competitive with the Conservatives. Apps says that the Liberals have a database -- called Liberalist -- which is the same model used by the U.S. Democrats. He says it's superior technology to the Conservatives' brand. However, the fancy system is useless without data, and he says Liberals have a "fraction" of the information in their database that the Conservatives have. (The New Democrats also reportedly have some sophisticated voter-database technology too, by the way.) To put it in more familiar language, the Liberals have bought a top-of-the-line political tool, but 12:00 is still flashing on the display -- no one has seriously programmed the thing yet.
* Oh, and I guess I should update on this business of the blogger ban, mentioned in yesterday's post. I still am not sure the whole thing is solved yet -- for what it's worth, Apps said the management committee hadn't even made any policy yet yesterday. When they do get to sitting down and working it out, I think they should be reading Jeff Jedras' excellent blog post from yesterday. Or just let Jedras write the policy.