Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rebuilding the Liberal Brand - An Open Letter to Alfred Apps

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.


  1. I totally agree. I want the old Liberal Party back, and centrist government, and civility and decency.

    And democracy, if that's still possible.

  2. Certainly this is a great opportunity for the Liberal party to decide what it stands for and to rebuild itself.
    However @peedeecee, the Libs did NOT stand for centrist gov't, civility, decency or even democracy; I don't know why Easterners keep thinking that. In the West, the Libs stand for (in no particular order): NEP, giving the middle finger to protesters, throttling protesters, "screw the West" motto, appointing leaders without consulting the membership, an amateur hour coup attempt, Green Shift, appeasing Quebec at the expense of the West, an arrogant belief that they are the "natural governing party". Still the Libs are punished, and I think with hard work and a sincere willingness to do better, they do have the chance to re-connect with Cdns.
    Perhaps Mr LeBlanc is the best the Libs could do---but.... Libs have a habit of preferring to give the "good jobs" to people whose daddy was important; that's called "aristocracy" and I think it's one of the reasons us peasant Cdns did not warm up to the Count; he epitomized aristocracy. Imagine a Liberal leader who actualy came from public schooling, a middle or working class family, and worked for a living..........hard, isn't it?

  3. Try having a talk with Danny Williams. Now THAT would be a win-win. He is exactly the man to deal with Harper, and to get the job done. Canadians respect him.

  4. You might also consider not treating people like a bunch of idiots. This letter doesn't address this problem, it merely reinforces it. Good luck in the wilderness.

    Btw, it wouldn't hurt you to remember that Canada doesn't end at the Ontario border, with the west being an empty sea (and the island of Goodale) except for the money you can draw from it to pay for policies most of the country doesn't want anyway.

  5. There will be floor crossing,it's over for Lib's...next Mc Nutty is going down in Ontario.

  6. I completely and whole heartedly agree. Dominque Leblanc may be the party's saving grace right now.

  7. mrbudhafreak

    FYI, I lived in the west for 25 years so am well aware of the "alienation" issue.

    The only people that I'm treating as idiots are the executive of the LPC.

  8. I live in Western Canada; I'm well aware of the alienation issue for which the Liberals were responsible. It was stupid, arrogant, and blind, and led to a backlash that could have easily been foreseen.

    But compared with what's coming (you ain't seen nothin' yet) the Libs were far more centrist, decent and civilized.

    Get ready for a 4-year Harper juggernaut - you won't recognize Canada when he's through with it.

  9. The biggest problem the Liberal Party has right now is $$. They're still in financial difficulty from past expenses. Meanwhile, even if the vote subsidy sticks around, their % of the vote went down significantly. Key is being able to raise money in donations from Canadians.

    So not only do they need to figure out how to appeal to Canadians to attract votes, they need to appeal enough to attract donations, which is much harder, especially for a centrist party (more extreme political parties have more diehard supporters). They need to show potential donors that they're going in a good direction and have a very good chance of success.

    I've heard Leblanc speak and he's very good. But if they want to show Canadians that they're listening to the message sent by voters, and are truly rebuilding, then they can't hand the keys to the son of a Liberal-appointed Governor-General.

    While it's hard not to get distracted by the open leader chair, the party needs to concentrate on what they stand for and their message, not just try to find a leader or brand. Get a caretaker leader for 18 months or so. Anyone who's serious about wanting to be a more permanent leader needs to step up during that time and show what they can do. Sort of an extended dialogue about centrist politics in Canada, with no infighting. And in that process they need to make the case for why centrist politics is important, and important enough to Canadians so that people should donate to help them stay alive to fill that role.

  10. The first issue the tall foreheads have to address is credibility. Nobody in his right mind believes a word a Liberal says. Federally and provincially they have a long, deplorable and well documented history of lying to get elected, becoming tax and spend wastrels upon being elected, and corruption until they're unelected.

  11. Look it's over for the Lib's...the CPC will take the centre ...NDP will be replaced by a renamed Bloc

  12. I guess LeBlanc is as good a choice as any. Being a lawyer he is versed in lying. Being a Liberal that ability would fit like a glove.How about McGuinty? He will be looking for work shortly, between the two of them they should be able to bury this poor excuse of a political party for good

  13. Can you reproduce one piece of the "nuclear arsenal of nasty verbiage" from Harper? I saw Iggy's 5-week lecture tour where he called our PM a liar, said we cant trust him, said he was divisive, said he was going to kill health care, and told the press the Conservatives can go to hell. I recall no such slumming from our PM. Non-partisan Junkie? I think not.

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  15. I have nothing against the CPC. It's Mr. Harper that I am not fond of along with his "I must win so you must lose" approach to Canadian politics.

    Aren't we all Canadians first, despite our political persuasions?

  16. The only issue I have with your post is that the liberal party did not lose to Harper - the liberal party lost to the NDP. Harper has made a small, steady gain, but the NDP made huge gains; the liberals really lost in Quebec...so perhaps making Harper look like the big Satan is not appropriate. The liberals should really look at what the NDP did if they want a good example on how to score with Canadians!

    Also, maybe most people are tired of minority governments that accomplish little and 'picking something in the middle' is rather tiresome. Perhaps we all decided who we are, left or right, and chose accordingly.

  17. Wow just saw Mr Apps on the CBC,he just doesn't get it.

  18. But more importantly, Mr. Apps, as president of the Liberal Party of Canada, it would be considered good manners to submit your resignation. You also had as much of a hand in this loss as did Mr. Ignatieff if not more so. If you truly believe that the party wants your guiding hand at the helm then you could re-submit your candidacy. Given our position as the third party, it's the only proper step you could take at this time. We appreciate all the work you have done for the party and wish you all the best in your future endeavors. Thank you and goodbye.

  19. Dirty tricks... Liberal brand... sounds like the good ol' days to me. Good luck, you'll need it.