Do we want to fix Ontario, or do we just want to get back into government?
I pay a lot of attention to the federal Liberals and their trials and tribulations. Because, in case you haven't noticed, the PC Party of Ontario and the federal Liberals have a lot of the same problems.
-Preoccupation with past victories
-Base that is split into different camps
-Lot of complaining about the government while not offering as many solutions
-Fruitless complaining about leadership
-Resistance to change and input from the party rank-and-file
-Party rank-and-file assuming that the people in charge know better than they do and not speaking out against things that they feel are wrong
How do the Liberals approach these problems?
Past victories: The Liberals still don't get that they aren't the preferred choice of most Canadians. More people voted for other parties than they did for the Liberals. The "60% of Canadians didn't vote for Harper" argument that they like to toss around ignores the fact that the Liberal share of the vote has been declining for a long time now.
Split base: When people are writing books about your intra-party warfare, it's not a good sign.
Complaining about government: They've been doing this for years. Everything the Conservatives do is the worst thing ever, but the Liberals don't ever tell us how they'd fix things or do things differently. They want legislation banning attack ads by third parties (as noted by the War Room Boss here) but they ignore the fact that Dalton does the same thing. They complain about conditions in Attawapiskat, but ignore that they didn't fix the problem when they were in government. They try to scare people into thinking Harper wants to destroy gay marriage, but ignore the fact that they didn't close the loophole that led to that whole kerfuffle.
Leadership: Bob Rae was supposed to be interim leader, and now it looks like he's permanent leader, and the Liberals say they're OK with this. Despite the fact that David McGuinty announced that he wanted to complete the Daltonian takeover of everything at their biennial.
Party rank-and-file not speaking out: See above.
Resistance to change: The Liberals decided they wanted to replace the current voting system with some form of ranked ballot. I can't find a single person outside ther LPC who thinks that there's a serious problem with the way we elect politicians in this country. The federal Liberals think it's a problem because they suddenly can't get elected anymore under the old system. When the old system gave them Trudeau, Laurier, Chretien, Pearson, King, etc., it was fine. Now that it gave them Harper, it's gotta go. I bring up this example because it shows how the Liberals are so stuck on defeating Harper that issues like this take precedence over issues that actually affect Canadians.
How do we approach these problems?
Preoccupation with past victories: Sadly, there are still people who think bringing Harris or Tory back would fix everything, and many people still think the same things that worked in the Bill Davis days will work now. However, we didn't get relegated to third place like the federal Liberals did, so we must be doing something right.
Base split into different camps: You could say that we have that problem. I don't think people in the PCPO want to fight the battles of the past the way the Chretienites and Martinites have done for decades, though.
Complaining about leadership: Yep. "Time for a really conservative leader!" "Like who?" "Um...." Fortunately, we don't have every other elected official in our party trying to do an end-run around the leader, and we are less preoccupied with who leads us than the federal Liberals.
Not offering solutions: Pretty much the #1 complaint people had about changebook. Recent moves by Hudak are suggesting he's gotten the message, though.
Rank-and-file not doing enough: On this one, I think we're worse than the federal Liberals. We complain a lot, and do so publicly, but nothing changes. Remember: when changebook was announced, a room full of people gave it several standing ovations.
Resistance to change and input: If the central party doesn't change, it's because the rank and file doesn't give them any reason to change. The Liberals' marijuana resolution is useless, but at least they're trying to put resolutions forward. Are we going to have any resolutions at our AGM?
Now, the Liberals have basically decided that they don't need to address their past mistakes, and that coming out of their biennial, all is well and the natural order of things (permanent Liberal majority governments) will soon be restored. We'd better not do that. Our AGM had better be a loud, raucous, breast-beating, mad-as-hell-and-not-going-to-take-it-anymore affair where we address the following questions:
a) What are the problems facing Ontario that are not being addressed by McGuinty?
b) How are we going to address these problems?
c) Do our solutions make sense? Do voters agree with them?
d) What are we doing that is preventing these problems from being solved?
e) What are each of us going to do to solve these problems?
Notice that I advocate a relative absence of complaining about the leader and the central campaign. That's been done. Our job now is to ensure that the leader and the central campaign gets the message from us that if something's going wrong, we will TELL THEM, loudly, right away.
The difference between us and the federal Liberals must be that we are willing to take a hard look at what we're doing wrong and fix it, while they aren't. Or else we will share their fate.