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What Product are We Trying to Sell

Posted on January 27, 2012

What “Product” is the Liberal Party of Canada trying to “Sell”? The following are my musings based on conversations with both members and non-members on what it’s all about and my experences at the LPC Biennial Convention:

In support of Amendment Number 24, passed at the LPC Biennial Convention:

The very last constitutional amendment passed at the 2012 Liberal Party of Canada Biennial Convention was amendment #24: “The Liberal Party of Canada is an association of members who share certain principles, as set out below, and who strive to elect candidates to the House of Commons for the purpose of advancing those principles.” This amendment was added in order so that the Liberal Party’s purpose to elect MP’s was distinctly part of our constitution.

I would like to say that this is a great addition to the preamble and goes a long way in answering questions about what is the “product” that the Liberal Party is trying to “sell”.

The rest of the preamble supports “the dignity of people as the primary purpose of politics” and supports: “individual freedom, responsibility and human dignity in the framework of a just society, and political freedom.” It also reiterates that the party is “bound by the constitution of Canada and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms”, commits the party to the “pursuit of equality of opportunity for all persons, to the enhancement of our unique and diverse cultural community, to the recognition that English and French are the official languages of Canada, and to the preservation of the Canadian identity in a global society.”

It also commits the party to the “fundamental rights and freedoms of persons under the rule of law and commits itself to the protection of these essential values and their constant adaptation to the changing needs of modern Canadian society and recognizes that “human dignity in a democratic system requires that all citizens have access to full information concerning the policies and leadership of the Party; the opportunity to participate in open and public assessment of such means, and such modifications of policies and leadership as they deem desirable to promote the political, economic, social, cultural and general well-being of Canadians.”

The preamble also strives to provide a framework of a “flexible and democratic structure whereby all Canadians can obtain such information, participate in such assessment and militate for such reform through open communications, free dialogue and participatory action both electoral and non-electoral.”

The preamble also states that the “Constitution sets forth the institutions, systems and procedures by which the Liberal Party of Canada, in co-operation with its provincial and territorial associations (PTA’s) and electoral district associations (EDA’s) and works to implement these ideas on behalf of all its members.”

In other words:

  • Liberalism is a commitment to individual freedom in a prosperous society with a sustainable future.
  • Liberalism is the conviction that freedom and prosperity are impossible without equality of opportunity.
  • Liberalism is the belief that fiscal discipline is what pays for social progress, and that government is necessary only when our common endeavours require it—otherwise, it should stay away from the business of our daily lives.

Nowhere in the preamble did it state why anyone would want to be involved in the Liberal Party of Canada, or what the end result of all the work we do was supposed to be. This question has been asked multiple times by those on the “outside”: people not involved with the party whatsoever, and by those on the “inside”: disenfranchised members, donors and volunteers that often wonder why they bother.

The addition of amendment #24 goes a long way in defining what it all means: People involved with the Liberal Party of Canada want a general voice in running the country. It gives the Liberal Party of Canada a codified “raison d’être” towards supporting this cause.

The continuum of support for the Liberal Party of Canada:

If you simply vote Liberal, you most likely have most of the attributes listed above, and/or you feel the Liberals in general, or your local candidate shares the same values as yourself and you trust that your vote will be your way of voicing your opinion on how the country should be run.

If you want to get further involved you can be a supporter of the local candidate by helping out whenever possible for something as simple as moral support, or by volunteering for the candidate or donating to their campaign, thus ensuring that your voice in running the country gets further up the chain.

If you want to get further involved you can actually voice your opinion by attending informal coffee meetings, roundtables, general EDA meetings or events, or joining in online discussions with other Liberals to discuss or debate your views. This should be a two-way conversation, part of a collaborative story-telling effort in order to make sure your thoughts are shared and possibly support new views, views you hadn’t thought about before, on how the country should be run.

If you feel strongly enough about your EDA or the Party, you may donate to the EDA or the Party. The Victory Fund is simply a method that allows you to donate regularly, spreading out your payments between elections. It gives a stable funding for the EDA to raise money for the next election, or the Party to continue operations that support the ridings in their next elections, both locally and nationally. This method of donating is desired by the EDA or the Party and you may get special perks or discounts by donating this way.

Party Organization and Governance:

If you want a formal voice on how your EDA or the Party does things, you may buy a membership, this allows access to attend board meetings, committees or conventions, volunteering to be a director of the EDA, or allowing your name stand for an executive position, or vote on who your next candidate should be.

The party has just ratified another amendment allowing for registration of supporters for election of a new party leader. Both members and registered supporters will be called upon to help out with the EDA or the party, receive communications from the party and EDA, and vote for our new leader.

If you have volunteered for being a Director or Executive member (duties are explained at http://liberaluniversity.liberal.ca/executive-roles/), you may participate in running committees (or working groups) of the EDA along with other members, or be in charge of operations for your EDA in the various duties. The committees that the EDA may have include social committees, policy committees, communications committees, membership committees, election readiness committees etc. These committees may be informal or formal but their goal is the same: many hands make light work.

The committees report to the executive, and the executive report to the president. The president reports to the PTA, the PTA has a voice on the national board.

For those that wish, the Liberal Party of Canada also has an Aboriginal Peoples Commission, a Women’s Commission, and the Young Liberals of Canada. Each have their own different ways of bringing your voice forward on how to run the government.

Efficient operations of the party are by suggestion only, and each EDA or commission is different, and their operations may change over time. However, our goal is still the same: we strive to elect candidates to the House of Commons for the purpose of advancing the principles of Liberalism and our voice toward supporting Liberalism.

Communications is key:

From TwitterFacebookWebsite – coffee meetings – EDA board meetings – EDA executive meetings – PTA meetings, all communications are set up to find out what you think. We are not here to dictate our policy to you, we are here to find out what your opinions are. We want to know what you think, what moves you, what you want the government to be doing for you. Regardless of whether or not we have a sitting MP or not, the Party wants to know your ideas.

We share your ideas among the differing organizations and communicate with other EDA’s, our PTA, the commissions, and the National party.

People involved with the Liberal Party of Canada want a general voice in running the country. This is the product we are trying to sell.

Whether it is just a vote (as a proxy for your voice), some help, a donation, a membership, volunteering in all levels of executive positions locally or regionally or nationally, or even running as a candidate or as party leader, we all want a voice in running the country. The addition of amendment #24 has added a lot of action to our constitution because the best way to actually run the country based on your voice is to actually elect enough MP’s to effect that change.

Gary Martin

PS: We would love to hear your thoughts on this, join the conversation below…

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  1. said on

    #liberalism@garymartin
    May I draw attention to your post … it is essential we are clear on what liberalism means … this is the best I have seen … may I draw the attention of Communications to your post? Communicating is so much more effective when it is based on a variety of sources and clearly and gracefully expressed.

    Judith Kellock

    I would also like to discuss the subject here when I feel better informed. You certainly have a gift.

  2. said on

    @andre @gary martin: I wasn’t aware you had done this fine article and has started a liberalism discussion. I unwittingly started one myself, without knowing that it should, of course, continue in this box. I apologize. It was not intentional, not at all. I have received some amazing answers … not sure how to proceed … I wonder if Andre might know how to transfer the discussion to your site …or should there be two sets …

  3. Gayle Stucke said on

    Thanks for all your kind words Judith, feel free to share this article.

  4. John McCulligh said on

    Gary what a wonderful, pointed and factual piece. I have printed this out and it sits in front of me everyday I am at my computer. We see a lot of discussion on liberalism. This is liberalism Canadian style, thanks.

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