Sunday 8 July 2012

Manitoba Liberal leadership idea.

This fall, the Manitoba Liberal Party will start the process of choosing a new leader to replace the outgoing Dr. Jon Gerrard. One man, the little-known Robert Young, has so far announced an intention to run. I don't know much about Mr. Young, but given his lack of political experience and journey-man career, I don't get a good vibe from this.

What the Liberal Party needs is a man who is ready to jump into the position already familiar with the political game, but with fresh ideas. I think I have just the person:

James Beddome

It's not so crazy. Trust me.

Okay... it's crazy, but read on anyhow:

With James you have a guy who has experience with the operational aspects of leading a political party. You have a guy who is well-spoken and reasonably charismatic. He is clean-cut and wholesome in appearance, yet has hair that dangles down in front of his face that tells younger voters that this is a different kind of politics -- a kind that they can potentially relate to. More importantly, he has fresh ideas. His Green Party platform in the last election was not radical or unreasonable, rather it was principled and grounded in logic for the most part.

What James doesn't have is a way of bringing these ideas to the floor of the legislature. It could take decades for the Green Party to build a base in Manitoba large enough to grabs seats from the NDP. The Liberal Party on the other hand has a significant, though dwindling, chunk of the vote. Every election there are certain people who always vote Liberal because they have always been Liberal, or because it's viewed as the moderate choice.

From the Liberal Party point of view, a resurgence is desperately needed. The inertia that they've been coasting on since the Sharon Carstairs days has been eroding under the coma-inducing leadership of Gerrard, and has not been helped by the implosion of the parent party in Ottawa. A 50 year old business consultant who once wrote a Christian novel is probably not the spark plug that they need to fire up the engine again.

This is where James comes in. He has some youth appeal that could help revitalize the party, but has already earned the respect of other politicians. I know that Hugh McFadyen respected James as a peer and as a political opponent, for example.

But what about the Green Party? Am I asking that he abandon his Green roots? No.

But surely the Green Party has a clause in their constitution that prevents their leader from running for another party. Therefore this will require a bit of a gamble on Beddome's part. He will have to resign the leadership of the Greens to run for the Liberals. If he wins the leadership of the Liberal Party he can begin negotiations with the Green Party to amalgamate the two. The Green Party will be willing because they know James and they know what he stands for. As the freshly elected leader of the Liberal Party he would have the leverage to pull the party into the negotiations.

And then the master plan is complete! A young, stronger Liberal party with the combined strength of the Libs and the Greens, and a new platform of distinct and practical ideas that will stand out from the stale and predictable drivel presented by the NDP and the PCs.

It could work.


A new face, Ajay Chopra, plans to jump in the race ... just as soon as he returns to Manitoba from Toronto where he was working as a lobbyist. Ajay's outlook is better that Robert Young's in my opinion, because he is younger and somewhat familiar with the political machine, but this is not a big enough development to derail the above plan.


Anonymous said...


Thanks for the laugh.

The View from Seven said...

Beddome is as good an option as any -- and the Manitoba Liberals are very near out of options.

One question that remains is how willing the Liberal executive is to change. A reasonably fresh executive team might be willing to think the unthinkable. An older, more insular executive team made up of people who've known each other since they went to school together in the '60s and '70s might have less of an appetite for big changes.

Anonymous said...

Cherenkov - There are no more Lib's in Manitoba. Why don't you do the job?

Anonymous said...

Ajay is running. The Indian vote will be solidly behind him.

Anonymous said...

View From 77, thats the problem - Executives who think the same and can't be flexible.

I would turf all the old ones and start with a fresh team under my control, not the other way around.

cherenkov said...

@VF7: If the party is being run by an old stodgy clique, then it is high time for a hostile takeover by a younger crowd. Either that or we start digging the grave.

@Anon2: There are too many reasons to list.

@Amon3: And the FN vote? Worked with the Assembly of First Nations.

The View from Seven said...

They might have to start digging the grave. Though I don't know the MLP's demographic breakdown, most of what we do know about political parties suggests that many are aging, and that younger people (in political terms, those under the age of 45) aren't the "joiners" that their parents and grandparents were.

A large, successful party might have enough younger people still involved to maintain constituency organizations and provide some volunteer support once the Boomers cease to be active; though even then, they should expect a membership decline and talent shortages in the years ahead. A small, struggling party might not have enough young people to keep a viable operation going in the long term.

John Dobbin said...

I think there may be more people running in the end for provincial Liberals than the Conservatives.

This could be becoming a one party province. They NDP could be in for several more decades. Hard to say. It would have to a bugger up on an epic scale.

Gerrard and the provincial Liberals did have some of the better policies in the last election. Showy leaders don't always rule the day.

If Opposition parties want to make a breakthrough in provincial levels, they need to challenge the rule that prevents city councillors and mayors from running for higher offices by resigning their seats.

Biggest breakthrough for Carstairs was recruiting top city councillors to run. That hole was closed and the NDP want it to stay closed.

However, I believe it is unconstitutional and undemocratic.

Imagine how many people the PCs and the Liberals could have recruited to run in the last election to run? It would have scared the hell out potted plant backbench NDP members for high profile councillor to come knocking on their door.

Want to shake up provincial politics? This is the way to do it.

And for that matter, let councillors run for mayor without resigning their seats. See how long mayors stay in office with real competition.

cherenkov said...

@VF7: I suspect you're right

@JD: I'll guarantee there won't be fewer people running for the Liberals. That would be hard to do. I agree .. if councillors could run without resigning there would be must less risk in doing so and more of them would attempt it. Could produce better fields.

Rod Rouge said...

Goodness.. how did I miss this?

I don't actually care who wins (yet) or who would be good / great / terrible. Don't care, at all (yet).

I do care (deeply) that interesting debate about ideas, policies, problems, etc. is sparked in the public by a leadership race.

Therefore, James would be an excellent candidate, for my reasons and yours. He would get press, say smart things, and stir sh-t up.

The Greens may not actually force him to quit (they'd be the most likely party to have a polyamorous relationship with their leader, I'm thinking', eh....)

cherenkov said...

I'm impressed that you found this post so far after the fact. I still like this idea. I may even call James and tell him what I think.

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