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Follow Me on TwitterPhillip Blancher is a writer, web geek and communications professional by trade. He has written for a number of publications in Eastern Ontario and Northern New York State and also was a weekly morning show contributor for two area radio stations. As a resident of South Dundas for the last seven years, this long-time political buff has taken on an appreciation of small-town/rural life while also being a father of four and a soccer coach. Blancher's columns on will cover a range of his interests from politics, parenthood, local history and on his favourite NHL team, the Buffalo Sabres. If you have questions or wish to contact Phillip, you can email him at
It's time to declare that the Liberal Party of Canada is finally dead
Phillip Blancher

With Bob Rae's announcement last week that he would not seek the leadership of the federal Liberal Party, it's time to finally declare that the Liberal Party of Canada is finally dead. Frankly, it’s about time. The Liberals were on life-support for 22 years.

South Dundas - June 20, 2012 - With Bob Rae's announcement last week that he would not seek the leadership of the federal Liberal Party, it's time to finally declare that the Liberal Party of Canada is finally dead. Gone. Fini. Kaput. Fertig. Frankly, it’s about time. The Liberals were on life-support for 22 years, since Jean Chretien won the leadership, and the party would have been long gone had the Progressive Conservatives had not fallen apart at the seams in the aftermath of Brian Mulroney's leadership.

Look back at the leadership race of 1990 between Jean Chretien and Paul Martin. That race was divisive and laid the ground for the end of the Liberals. Martin was able to get Chretien to speak out against Meech Lake during the party leadership contest, which wounded Chretien in Quebec throughout his leadership. In the wake of the leadership contest, quietly festering under the smiles after Chretien’s win, was a Paul Martin who wanted to win. That desire to win ripped the Liberal’s inner workings to shreds. Riding associations were stacked with pro-Martin memberships so that when the time came, it would be hard to not vote Paul Martin in to replace Chretien when he decided to leave.

The problem was that Chretien was not going to go on anyone’s terms but his own. Martin couldn’t push him out, and it wasn’t for a lack of trying. When Chretien announced that he was done in 2003, there was no one in the party who could successfully run against Martin. Sheila Copps tried but all of the heavy hitters who could have given Martin a run for his money declined, Frank McKenna, Brian Tobin, or John Manley. All were potential candidates who could have done well, possibly knocked Martin out. But they were smart because the party was wounded.

Flash-forward to 2006, Paul Martin announced on election night during his concession speech that he would quit as leader. He knew the party which he had taken over would be out for his own hide, and left while he could. The ensuing leadership race was billed as a renewal, it was only rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Again the heavy hitters who could have done well did not enter the race. They considered themselves winners and knew that the Liberal brand, the Liberal organization in its present form, could not win. No one wants to be leader of an also-ran party. Enter the cast of characters, Rae, Ignatieff, Dion, Kennedy and others. All with baggage of one type or another, no rock stars.

As soon as Dion won the leadership, as the compromise candidate, the end was in sight. Dion fizzled and the quasi-leadership selection process placed Michael Ignatieff as head of the Liberals. Party members got the Defibrillator paddles out. Ignatieff left quickly after the 2011 election and what the Liberals had left was Bob Rae.

And then it was gone.

Now it can truly rebuild. Since the Kingston Conference in 1960 and the 1968 leadership convention, there has not been a true wiping of the slate of the Liberal party. Everyone else has done it. The NDP cast off the stigma of socialism, but not the values of it, with the election of Jack Layton as their leader. Stephen Harper managed to coral two warring factions of the right into one cohesive party. Both leaders did so by having a vision that was, at least to some people, something new. The Liberals on the other hand have offered the same brand, same values, same ideology and same old way of thinking for three full generations.

The Liberals would not be able to shuck themselves of the baggage of 22 years of decline without the last bastion of baggage, Bob Rae, being out of the picture. Without any of the “old-guard” left, there is wide open room for renewal.

So you the reader might ask, why does this small-c conservative leaning writer want to see a reborn Liberal party? Simply put, because we need diversity of ideas. The risk we have in Canada is to have a right-wing party, and a left-wing party; Conservatives verses New Democrats. Neither side have compromise as a word in their vocabulary. Both parties under their respective leaders have a “my way or the highway” approach to running a party, and if they are in power, running a country. If either party is left to balance the other without another party to help temper the dialogue, Canada will be governed more and more like the United States, one knee-jerk over-reaction compensating for a knee-jerk over-reaction from the previous government.

Where you may in the past have had a compromise solution to legislation on EI, you now get the Conservatives complete overhaul. If the NDP win power in 2015, look for a complete 180 degree change to EI. Neither way is sustainable. This is just one issue. Now picture this dichotomised shift on each and every issue from buying paper clips to fighter jets.

A strong and rebuilt Liberal party I may not agree with their policies or views, but the Liberals have almost always had policies and ideas that have appealed to many and have been moderate. No one can claim that the Liberals were extreme left or extreme right in this country.

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