POL101Y1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Tom Axworthy, Gomery Commission, Star Candidate
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CANADIAN FEDERAL ELECTION OF 2008. LIBERAL PARTY CHAPTER 2
-had appeared to be a golden opportunity for the liberals to demonstrate that they had turned the
page and regroup after 2006 defeat.
-instead, the party suffered one of their worst defeats ever, share of popular vote reduced to
-explanation on the surface is ran poor campaign with weak leader
-but actually defeated rooted in failure to understand serious message they were sent by the
voters in 2006 and their failure to implement even those changes they did recognize as
necessary in runup to 2008 election.
-loss in 2006 due to series of problems that caused voters to lose faith in the liberals competence
and integrity. effect of gomery inquiry, this image of corruption and arrogance reinforced
during RCMPs bizarre handling of possible income trust scandal in 2006.
-their campaign in 2006 crap from start. poorly conceived and exectued
-liberals could reasonably expected a chance of power in 2008 election as conservatives won
but canadians werent ready for full reign of harper and they were shut out of 2 biggest urban
cities, and had slim minority. *no huge change in canadians values
-however challenge was large, would have to accomplish 4 objectives before enxt election. 1.
find credible leader. 2. rebuild organization. 3.improve fundraising capacity. 4. create coherent
vision for liberalism in 21stC. **FAILED ON ALL ACCOUNTS.
-missed opportunities began with dysfunctional 2006 leadership race.
-party needed to reform structures to align them with 3 major tasks of any poli party; policy
dvlpmt, fundraising and campaigning. all 3 had been hampered by federal nature of the party
structure, layer of representational organization that had been added in name of fairness and
equality, with no regard to efficiency
-hoping to raise the partys profile, they creted an ad hoc body, the liberal party of canada policy
renewal commission, o work throughout the year and submit its report to the convention in
december. tom axworthy chosen to lead.
-commisson controversial from beginning. executive appeared to be ignoring partys
own national policy committe but recommendation of commission could potentially
conflict with the plicy resoultions debated at the convention .
-liberals looking for another star candidate to replace paul martin. 11 candidats came forward.
low entry fee to be candidate was more effective than expected, many candidates considered
•ignatieff and rae perceived as star candidates and frontrunners, two men also quickly portrayed
by the media as representing opposing sides in martin/chretien feud.
•internal party divisions, this race seen as continuation of internal feud
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•fearing this perception would be correct if major players given real opportunity to debate
position on issues, the candidates policy debates, structured in such a way to prevent
•**organizers hampered by large number of candidates.
•little public interest in the debates, entire process unfolded in obscurity rather than high drama
and increased visibility they wanted.
QUEBEC ISSUE SIDETRACKS RACE:
•first time canadians took notice of leadership race was when several candidates revived internal
debate over federalism, liberal frontrunner ignatieff declared that quebecers distinct language
culture and history mean that they did constitute a nation, and that they should be entrenched in
const. shortly after the quebec wing of liberal party, who were supportive of ignatieff proposed
resolution that caused further trouble
•draft motion recognized quebec as a nation within canada and spoke of the need to
constitutionalize that reality... eventually watered down under pressure
•****virtually all other liberal leadership candidates opposed motion....events spiraled out of
control. threatened to derail entire liberal leadership race.
•harper brought own motion to table.. liberals plunged into chaos. graham said they should vote
unanimously in favour of harpers resoultion to demonstrate solidarity. **not to be.
•****divisions within party became increasingly obvious.
SUPER WEEKEND AND THE CONVENTION
•one of the issues the liberals failed to resolve after two decades f tinkering with its const was
the method of selecting a new leader.
•numerous debtes over relative merits of delegated conventions vs direct election by all
members...uneasy and largely accidental compromise reached that party would do both.
•direct vote by membership in ridings/liberal clubs nationwide. (super weekend would see
delegates selected for national convention on basis of vote) delegates would be obliged to
vote for leadership candidate chosen by their riding, least on first ballot
•remained to be seen where new leader would take the party and would have little guidance
from either grassroots of the experts.
•actual leadership vote on dec 2 2006. dramatic end to convention, as four ballots were required
before dion chosen. decisive moment came when gerard kennedy unexpectedly withdrew
after2nd ballot and gave 91 percent of delegates to dion.
•dion upset over ignatieff, caught media and other observers by surprise
•dino appeared confident.. his platform would make canada richer fairer and greener
THE ACCIDENTAL LEADER
•Dion unknown for many liberals and most canadians, few knew where he stood on issues other
than environment although he was assumed to b left wing liberal.
•accidental leader AND politician,
•candidates uncertain about dion but willing to give him chance, liberals enjoyed upswing in
pop support after the convention and he seemed to be to a good start.
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