|Leadership races for this place, should be open and vociferous !|
There were six people up on stage, and after a few minutes of polite statements and mild discussions things started to get really REALLY heated. As a young student still figuring out this politics stuff, I was pretty amazed, and more than a little shocked at how heated it all got. I mean, this was the NDP I kept telling myself. For posterity's sake, I actually found photos of all the candidates...how cool is that?
All of this was interesting, but what really stood out at the debates was a single candidate, Bev Meslo. She wasn't just a self-styled vanguard of the left of the NDP, she was in fact the NDP's socialist caucus' official candidate. Let me tell you, she never for a moment forgot that.
It wasn't just her policy and political opinions that stood out, it was her outrage at what she saw as a gradual shift to the centre of a party she truly believed should be firmly to the left. When I say outrage...I mean it. Perhaps the strangest moment was when she took the mic towards the end of the debate and shouted, multiple times (if memory serves me) "WE NEED TO MOVE THIS PARTY LEFFFFTTTTT!!" Priceless.
What does this have to do with the Liberal Party of Canada's upcoming leadership race? Well, I'm trying to show a little of the great diversity of views and opinions represented, unabashedly I might add, at another party's leadership convention. At the time, the NDP were the third party, and most people weren't paying a whole lot of attention to the ongoing race. While that wasn't great for their media profile, it was a boon to having a serious conversation about what direction the NDP should move in and why.
We know how that story ends don't we?
If you fast forward nearly 10 years, I would argue that the Liberal party has a rare opportunity over the coming months to have a similar battle of ideas and direction. Rather than trying to muzzle outsiders (Dominic Leblanc I'm looking at you) with conflicting opinions, the party should encourage a vociferous debate of policy and politics. As much as Liberals want to believe that all eyes are on them during this time, they should get over that and instead use this as a real time for discussion and reflection.
As the third party you have a unique opportunity, away from the cameras that would come at a government party convention, to soul search, out-loud and without fear. If you don't do it now, you might never get another chance, so realize you're in third and use this one, last chance to actually figure out who you are and what you mean to Canada.
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