18 October 2008

Hey Liberals! It's the grassroots!

According to a Liberal candidate with whom I had a long conversation, there are no Liberal grassroots, locally or nationally.

Here's the story...

When the Green Shift was first announced, I was excited about the Liberal Party for the first time in my life.

So I contacted my local Liberal candidate to volunteer to maintain his website - keep it up to date with the latest news items, refresh its design, post events, etc. - and to help with canvassing. I also later volunteered my services to the Green candidate, an offer which she took up.

Got an email response from the Liberal candidate within a few days with a Thank You! and an advisement that I'd be hearing from his campaign.

Never heard a word from them.

Nor, coincidentally, did I receive a reply to an email of inquiry I'd sent to the President of the local EDA a year or so ago, a man well known in the community.

I too am known in the community both for my work through WISE on exposing local poverty issues - not appreciated by all, to be sure - and my having done such nationally-recognized work while living on extremely low income.

Am beginning to wonder now if my social status was the culprit - you know, I am and represent local throwaways, people with whom the LPC would prefer not to associate and who couldn't conceivably have anything to offer the great "natural governing party" or its local team.

Anyway, it's not as if the local campaign couldn't have used the help. The website never was maintained, events posted continued to be from a year and more ago, some even from the last election.

When I met the candidate in the last week before the election, I suggested that the local Liberals really needed to get their grassroots involved - at which point he said in a disheartened manner and apparent resignation, "There is [sic] no grassroots."

The implication from the subsequent conversation was not only an absence of "ordinary" Canadians in local and national Liberal campaigning, but also that said ordinary folk wouldn't be welcome by the Liberal elites - of which the shrinking party seems mainly made up.

The irony couldn't be more obvious. The success of a political party depends on its ability to win the hearts and minds of so-called ordinary Canadians, or at least enough of them who vote.

Yet a party can't win those hearts and minds unless they employ the use of said Canadians in their campaigns.

It's not all about throwing money around, as we've seen from the Conservatives' recent win and the gains by the NDP and Greens. It's about connecting to your supporters and including all and any who are willing and want to help.

NB: I've never met an "ordinary" Canadian.

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