An Open Letter to Alfred Apps, President of the Liberal Party of Canada
Dear Mr. Apps,
Now that Canada’s 41st Election is behind us, I thought I’d take this opportunity to contact you and offer a few of my thoughts on the debacle of May 2nd, 2011.
You’ll soon be looking for a new leader. This time out, I would strongly suggest that you actually hold a full leadership convention with an actual slate of candidates, that is, if anyone actually wants to take the helm of an obviously sinking ship. I realize that it is going to be difficult to attract quality candidates but you and the Executive team of the Liberal Party have to do your best. Surely it can’t be that hard to find a candidate that is more dynamic and more likeable than Mr. Harper, can it?
Here are some character issues that are best avoided if you want to have a successful campaign in 2015 (or whenever Mr. Harper decides to allow Canadians to vote the next time):
1.) You should probably rule out anyone with an academic background since they seem to really have a difficult time actually relating to the “sweaty masses”. Sure, they get out there, roll up their sleeves, kiss a few hands and shake a few babies but they really don’t look like they are enjoying it. Canadian voters may be a pretty dumb lot but we know sincerity when we see it...and we certainly haven't seen it for a while.
2.) Candidates that have more than 4 years of University education are acceptable but only if they have degrees in economics, law or political science so they at least appear to be Mr. Harper’s intellectual equal. Where possible, degrees should be domestic unless they are from a university that is obviously inferior to the University of Calgary.
3.) I’d also suggest that you steer clear of candidates with job experience outside Canada. After all, you found out that anyone that has worked anywhere other than Canada is most likely not really a Canadian and has only their own interests at heart and could pack up and leave at any time because they left their heart "...in San Francisco..." or wherever.
4.) Former politicians (Bob Rae) with allegiances to another political party (Bob Rae) are best avoided at all costs (Bob Rae). Any actions, inactions or missteps that they (Bob Rae) took while in office, whether it was their fault or not, are great fodder for the next round of Conservative television, radio and print media attack ads that are sure to start in the next couple of months even while the Liberal Party is leaderless.
For the next federal campaign, I would suggest that you do your best to hire someone who has been trained at the “Karl Rove School of Political Dirty Tricks and Innuendo” to manage the Party’s campaign efforts. As we all know, the Conservative Party of Canada certainly learned a few tricks from watching the master. By hiring a person of this ilk, you know that he or she will have no conscience when it comes to fighting back should the CPC use their political propaganda machine to once again attack your candidate mercilessly over something they said, did, inferred or thought decades in the past. After all, Mr. Ignatieff’s biggest fault was appearing to be the consummate gentleman and perhaps if a “bastard” prodded your next leader behind the scenes, the new leader would be able to stoop to the level of discourse that the CPC is so fond of and that at least some voters appear to swallow without thinking.
While campaigning, stick to one and only one theme. Mr. Harper was very successful with his use of two, simple words – the dreaded “separatist coalition”. Even the least intellectual of Canadian voters understands the word “separatist” and knows in his or her heart of hearts that separation is a very evil thing. Over the past 6 weeks, if Mr. Ignatieff had only stuck to the message of “contempt” and used it over and over again, perhaps it would have stuck to Teflon Steve eventually. Instead, Mr. Ignatieff entered a verbal battle to the death wearing only kid gloves when faced with a nuclear arsenal of nasty verbiage from Mr. Harper. This is the New Canada of Stephen Harper; political battles are not a duel between gentlemen any more. This is political trench warfare and it’s going to get really ugly because, the next time out, you’re going to be trying to unseat a Prime Minister with a majority in the House that he’d been waiting for since he first found himself in Ottawa in the 1990s.
In closing, I’d like to offer my suggestion for your next leader. He was born in Ottawa 43 years ago so it doesn’t get any more Canadian than that. His father was a former MP, Senator and Governor General so his political credentials are apparently genetic. This candidate is fluent in both official languages but does not have the Quebec albatross hanging around his neck. His cultural background is Acadian rather than Quebecois and he hails from New Brunswick, one of the nice, non-threatening provinces where people take their politics seriously but are still pretty polite about it. He is well-educated with a law degree from the University of New Brunswick and, rather unfortunately, a Masters of Law from the dreaded Harvard, but I’m pretty certain he stayed just long enough to get his degree and get the heck out of the United States. He was first elected to the House of Commons in the election of November 2000 and has served on many committees over his tenure along with being named as Official Opposition Critic for Justice and the Attorney-General and the Official Opposition Critic for National Defence. He did take a run at the leadership of your Party in 2008 but backed down in deference to Mr. Ignatieff, your Party’s overwhelming and misguided choice as the heir apparent.
Mr. Apps, I think that you need to do the Liberal Party of Canada and all Canadians a favour, sit down and have a chat with Dominic LeBlanc.
One last thing. Remember democracy? After the anointing of Mr. Ignatieff in 2009, Canadians aren’t so sure. Don’t just appoint someone to the job of Leader. You know how well that worked the last time.