Liberals hold emergency caucus

In the wake of the widely leaked news that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will propose doing away with the public subsidy of political parties, the federal Liberal caucus held an emergency meeting this morning in the Centre Block on the Hill. They're just breaking up now but there are suggestions that some are broaching the idea that it might be a good idea to send out feelers along the lines of a coalition government. In the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, the public subsidy — $1.95 per vote received in the last general election per year — made up about two-thirds of the revenue of both the Liberals and the BQ. For the NDP and Greens it was about half and for the Tories it was 35 per cent.

Here's Liberal Party spokesman Daniel Lauzon:

“We feel the current political financing laws exist to provide stable annual funding to political parties based on the level of support they earn. As such, they are crucial to a healthy democratic process.Though it’s not surprising that the day this government is plunging Canada into multibillion dollar deficit, the Conservatives are trying to change the channel, it’s indefensible that rather than introducing significant measures to address the economic crisis, Stephen Harper has instead chosen to use today’s Economic and Fiscal update to take a cheap partisan shot at his political opponents.”

Flaherty will tell all beginning at 4 pm Ottawa time in the House of Commons.

9 thoughts on “Liberals hold emergency caucus”

  1. We feel the current political financing laws exist to provide stable annual funding to political parties based on the level of support they earn.

    Well Mr. Lauzon, perhaps you should be working towards establishing stable annual funding from your membership. The problem of course, is that you must stay in touch with your membership, and listen to what they want from you as a party, and march in the direction they tell you to. Liberals have a very hard time swallowing that because the Liberal Party is a “Father Knows Best” party.
    I've never agreed with the BLOQ to begin with, so perhaps they too should be reliant on just how supportive their base is.
    Same thing with the Greens and NDP and any other party. The welfare of your party as a whole should be dependant upon how in touch you are with your supporters and membership. It's a form of accountability to your own people. If you “screw up”, they don't “pony up”, and as such, you must maintain that link with your support base.
    Conservatives have always believed this. That is why Conservatives did not want to include National Convention Fees as a donation to the party, and thereby not tax-deductable. The Conservatives don't believe they are entitled to a public subsidy.
    The bottom line is this. If you can't earn the support of your membership, and through them, finance yourselves, you're not really representing a broad spectrum of Canadians and their values.

  2. I disagree, Sean. The Conservative Party is so successful with fundraising because they can effectively motivate their base with fear and the perception of threats to “their way of life”. Canada is a liberal country and so the supporters of the other parties can feel (in a general sense) that the country does not need radical change, and so the motivation to donate is reduced.

  3. I don't agree that the Conservatives motivate their grassroots by means of fear. The Conservatives stand for something, and that something is determined by their grassroots. It's because of the party's contact at the grassroots level, that we donate what we can, when we can, and that's usually $20 or $30 at a time.
    Large numbers of people doing that create a sustainable financial support network as opposed to focusing solely on $150 – $500+ a plate fundraising dinners that are out of the reach of most party members. Tickets like that would simply break my budget, so I would never attend something like that, and as such, not support the party with those donations. However, I can manage $20 here, or sometimes $40 there randomly throughout the year. That's much easier on my budget and goes a whole lot further.
    That being said, I would argue that Canada is less a “liberal” country than it is a tolerant and accepting country that is flexible with the times. If a political party can't motivate it's members enough for them to donate to support the party, or if the membership feels so out of touch with the brand, that's not a tax-payer problem. Conservatives of the past figured that out and when they rebuilt themselves, they did it from the ground up and maintain that intimate contact with its grassroots. That is what makes the Conservative Party of Canada truly a party of it's people, and why they have little difficulty fundraising.
    The fact that the Liberals can't seem to get their act together speaks volumes about the state of their party. From the outside looking in, it really appears that it's membership no longer believes in the message, the format or the quality of the party, and until the Liberal Brand is restored, retired or rebuilt, they will continue on that road.

  4. Well Sean, some evidence suggests that *c*onservatives indeed are motivated in this way:

    “We regard political conservatism as an ideological belief system that is significantly (but not completely) related to motivational concerns having to do with the psychological management of uncertainty and fear. Specifically, the avoidance of uncertainty (and the striving for certainty) may be particularly tied to one core dimension of conservative thought, resistance to change. Similarly, concerns with fear and threat may be linked to the second core dimension of conservatism, endorsement of inequality. Although resistance to change and support for inequality are conceptually distinguishable, we have argued that they are psychologically interrelated, in part because motives pertaining to uncertainty and threat are interrelated”

    (Pubmed ID: 12784934)
    But of course you're right, they do stand for something too. I think that the quote above, and the paper as a whole, address that too. And I still contend that the fundraising messaging from the Conservative Party (that I have seen, anyway) uses this strategy very effectively.

  5. This is important news. If the BLOC will undertake to support a Liberal NDP coalition, then I think it would be entirely consistent, and proper that the GG should invite them to form a Government. I think that the self interest of the 3 opposition parties, and in the interest of all Canadians this would actually be good for the country. Clearly the Conservatives are incapable of forming a majority, and unwilling to form a consensus, so it's time for somebody else to give it a try. The initiative now lies with the opposition. They could vote down the money bill, and voila, Dion is Prime Minister. What portfolio for Layton I wonder. The bloggers will be busy this weekend!

  6. Since you were kind enough to cite a Pubmed abstract to support your POV, I'd like to offer this one in kind:
    «*Why are conservatives happier than liberals?*
    Author(s) Napier JL, Jost JT 
    Institution New York University, Washington Place, New York, NY, U.S.A.
    Source Psychol Sci 2008 Jun; 19(6):565-72.
    In this research, we drew on system-justification theory and the notion that conservative ideology serves a palliative function to explain why conservatives are happier than liberals. Specifically, in three studies using nationally representative data from the United States and nine additional countries, *we found that right-wing (vs. left-wing) orientation is indeed associated with greater subjective well-being* and that the relation between political orientation and subjective well-being is mediated by the rationalization of inequality. In our third study, we found that increasing economic inequality (as measured by the Gini index) from 1974 to 2004 has exacerbated *the happiness gap between liberals and conservatives,* apparently because *conservatives (more than liberals) possess an ideological buffer against the negative hedonic effects of economic inequality.*
    PubMed ID 18578846»
    You see? Maybe the only thing conservatives are fearful of … is losing that “ideological buffer” mentioned in the abstract.

  7. OK, Gabby. So they're happier because they can see people less advantaged than themselves and not let it bother them. Must be nice, but I'm not going to lose any sleep being concerned that that particular bubble is going to break…

  8. ” … but I'm not going to lose any sleep being concerned that that particular bubble is going to break…”
    So, should one conclude that liberals sleep better than conservatives?

  9. The only reason this would be supported by the BLOC is because it will give them far greater leverage in negotiating concessions to/for Quebec which may not be in the best interests to the rest of Canada.
    It will be EASIER for them insofar that the life of the Liberal/NDP coalition would depend on the continued “good graces” of the BLOC who would then unconditionally hold the balance of power in the House of Commons.
    This is NOT in the best interests of Canadians at large. It's even more dangerous for Quebec since this WILL result in an enormous backlash against them (rightly or wrongly) using the BLOC as a conduit.

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