Thursday, November 18, 2010

Do the Liberals lack esprit de corps?

When I worked elections, we would sometimes canvas in teams and afterwards stop at a family-style restaurant to share a bowl of wings and a couple of beers. The cost of food and drink were shared between us volunteers and was seldom paid for by the campaign or the party. On election night and afterwards, there would be parties to celebrate the victory and to thank volunteers, and those were mostly free to us, except perhaps the drinks.

Never, though, have I heard of the political party “offering up big prizes–tickets to Ottawa Senators games and even a $150 gift certificate to Hy’s Steakhouse–to round up volunteers to help them identify the Grit vote in upcoming by-elections,” as is described by The Globe and Mail’s Jane Taber. Nothing really wrong with it, of course, but it does make one wonder about the sort of supporters the Liberals attract.

We know that the Liberal Party of Canada struggles to attract individual donations. Is this further proof that their support is only skin deep and comes mainly from those interested in what LPC can do for them, rather than what they can do for LPC? (Thank you, John F. Kennedy.)

With up-coming federal by-elections, Jane Kennedy, an official in Michael Ignatieff’s office, made email promises to the offices of Liberal MPs and staffers that: “The volunteer who makes the most calls and identifies the most voters will win two 200-level tickets to watch the Ottawa Senators play Dallas.”

Furthermore, she wrote: “Highest number of calls made by next week’s super volunteer will get $150 gift certificate to Hy’s Steakhouse.”

And: “Finally, there will be a special surprise for our overall best caller!”

Taber quotes one senior Grit official as saying that the inducements are about “political organization … and engaging the Liberal team to lend a hand wherever they can.” Perhaps that’s true but I’m inclined more to agree with the so-called “long-time Liberal MP” who complained: “It speaks to the lack of morale and enthusiasm. It used to be that people eagerly volunteered. Now they have to be ordered or rewarded.”

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.


© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.


  1. Well said. The media is not looking at the large drop off from 2009 in dollars and donors.

    This might explain why the leadership are playing nice and toning down some of the rhetoric. A national campaign might bankrupt the party.

  2. It was a long time ago that many Gliberal volunteers actually 'eagerly' volunteered their time. For decades it has been mostly about currying favour with the next (Fiberal) federal government, which could be cashed in in the future. Now that the Glibs are not the government and are unlikely to become the government in the near future, the 'volunteers' have to collect their entitlements a little bit quicker.

    Senators hockey games and a steak dinner are a poor replacement for contracts worth multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's a wonder the poor dears can hire any 'volunteers'.