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Can you fundraise your own salary?

That should be the first question the Liberal Party of Canada asks a dozen or two organizers it should hire in the next two weeks.

Basically, take a score of young-ish Liberals with smarts and energy and commitment who aren't jazzed up about the current leadership (not opposed to the candidates, mind you, just not enthusiastic about the prospect of internecine war for the next half year) and unleash them in unheld ridings to raise a little hell.

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Their job is to find new donors, and the issues that motivate them.

Residents of Vancouver Island are mad about some plant using a potential carcinogen in Port Alberni? Excellent. We will ask about it in the House, use petitions to identify those supportive of our position, and then fundraise the hell out of it.

Northern Ontarians are up in arms about a cut to FedNor. Excellent. We will have the leader devote some QP time, do an issue campaign through Sudbury, North Bay, the Sault and Thunder Bay, use robodialers to ID our supporters, and fundraise the hell out of it.

Suburban Montreal is angry about a plan to close a key bridge. They think it will increase their commuting time? Excellent. We will get the critic out there right away, do a mailing to those effected, and fundraise the hell out of it.

If its done right, the exercise should net a few thousands REAL members. Not friends of friends signed up for a leadership vote in exchange for a few free beers. It should net enough money to pay for itself and bring in a few thousand long-term donors, activists and potential candidates. It should net some rejuvination while the party is in self-imolation mode.

Best case scenario, it might actually bring in enough cash to pay for an ad buy branding the new leader right after the convention. Say, $1 million. That's a pretty unlikely scenario, but its a stretch goal worth shooting for.

The Liberals are only going to get back into power if they devote serious time and energy to ridings that don't look that pretty right now. And losing nine months to a leadership race (not to mention millions of dollars) is a disaster in that context.

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The party needs to keep a core of active and disinterested volunteers building up the paper proper, while the leadership campaigns tear each other to shreds.

And it needs to abandon this "155 seat" strategy people have been proposing, because in the brave new world of individual donations, you can't afford to write half the country off.

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