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It was all the boy Add to ...

"Every campaign we've had, whether it was a leadership campaign or a national campaign, don't kid yourself....in private we sit down every time and we go through what we did right and what we did wrong....and we do it brutally frankly. And every single time we've made changes in terms of strategy. We've made changes in terms of personnel. And I've tried to make changes in myself." -Stephen Harper, as quoted by Paul Wells in the current issue of Maclean's. Liberals also go through such a debrief after every election - only it's structured slightly differently than Mr. Harper's. We - 10,000 Senior Liberal Strategists strong - get together in a series of one-on-one meetings with reporters and tell these reporters (who act as a kind of facilitator for the debriefs) how everybody besides us screwed this campaign up. In 2006? It was all Martin. Or it was Martin and the Board. Or it was Martin, the Board and sponsorship. Solution? Alienate the Board, dump Martin, count on people forgetting sponsorship, get us a shiny new leader and everything will be fine. We cannot lose the next election - people's hatred for Harper is as strong as, well, ours. We will explain to them why they made a mistake in 2006, they will realize the error of their ways and we will accept their apology and take back the government. This time? It was all Dion! Or Dion and the Green Shift. Dump Dion, never mention the Green Shift again and all will be fine. With our new leader the next election is a shoo-in. Don't believe me? Well, during the 2006 Liberal leadership campaign, there were four debates. During those four debates, there were roughly 30 different segments or topics. The number of segments on "party renewal", what went wrong in the last election or any other topic that had anything to do with the "Liberal Party of Canada" as a political entity? Zero. Sure, we knew whether the candidates thought infrastructure spending was a good or bad thing (good, as it turned out) and whether they support gay marriage (they do, in fact) but their plans to renew the Liberal Party? According to the party establishment, it didn't rank as one of the top-30 issues that the candidates might face if they became leader. I could link to about 50 stories from the various papers that pin the entire election loss on Dion - all citing unnamed Liberals scurrying away from the ship before fingers get pointed at them. It reminds me of the Simpsons episode when Bart gets an after-school job bartending at Fat Tony's. When Skinner goes missing and Fat Tony and his mafia buddies are arrested for murder, they all turn on Bart (a ten-year old kid, for those who aren't Simpsons fans). "It was all the kid....he had us into prostitution, loan sharking, racketeering.....forgive me, Don Bartholomew" No plane in the first week? Dion insisted on ordering the plane himself. "We told him to leave it to us but the man just wouldn't listen." Bad food once the plane did arrive? We wanted to cater the meals but Dion would have none of it. "He said he is a fantastic chef and cooked all the meals himself." Wouldn't it be refreshing to hear an unnamed Liberal Strategist quoted saying "yeah, I proposed a strategy. The campaign took my advice, man, what a mistake that was. I didn't think they would take me seriously when I proposed it. I feel kind of guilty now....this is all on background, right?" So here's my question to every Liberal who had ANYTHING to do with the campaign - from the National Campaign Co-Chairs to the Tour Director to the War Room Director to the Provincial Campaign Chairs and Directors to the local candidates and MPs - is there a single thing that went wrong in this campaign that YOU take responsibility for? Seriously, is there a single Liberal in this country who was more than happy to take a title in this campaign when it was offered to them who has the stones to go on the record with a reporter and say "I was the provincial co-chair for Province X, I was responsible for putting in place a strategy and an organization to increase our number of seats in our province, and I let Mr. Dion, our party and our candidates down. Going forward we need to...." (And no, I'm not singling out any one individual or even a collectivity of individuals for blame - there is more than enough to go around.) And yes, Dion is the leader and as such, all responsibility ultimately falls on his shoulders. But just as when I go to a McDonald's and the washroom is dirty, I can curse Ray Crock's name all I want and the President of McDonald's is ultimately responsible for every napkin dispenser that is empty, it (a) isn't realistic in terms of division of labour in a large organizations; and (b) doesn't start to solve the problem. My point is not that any one individual should jump on Mr. Dion's body and say "shoot me instead" but rather, this collective scapegoating of Dion ensures that unlike Mr. Harper - who has learned and improved from every election campaign he has run - the Liberal Party learns nothing and thus is likely to keep making the same or worse mistakes. It also says a little bit about folks' character, but that's another story.

 

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