Rebuilding the Liberal brand

After the spring federal election left the Liberals near obliteration, many Canadians have been wondering what it will take for the party to rise up to its past level of power and influence.

Former deputy prime minister Sheila Copps, who is currently running for presidency of the party and was recently in Winnipeg to lend her support to the Manitoba liberals during the election, spoke with the Manitoban about what needs to be done to rebuild the Liberal brand in Canada.

“My plan is to start building from the ground up,” she explained.
Copps said she would like to focus on bringing people who have left the party back, while also recruiting people to the party, particularly young people.

“We’ve had a lot of energy spent in the party on keeping people out, whether it be from nominations or discounted people in leadership races where we’ve had a coronation instead of a convention,” she argued.

Copps said she’s advocating for the reform of election process for the party’s leadership. An online voting system where votes were cast over a period of eight to 10 weeks across the country would ensure the election was more representative of what party members actually want.

“I think you would have the beginnings of a movement and you choose a leader that’s actually supported by all the people, not just someone who’s the pick of certain elites,” she said.

Copps has spoken out against the proposal for a potential merger of the NDP and Liberal party, arguing that it would compromise the Liberal’s centrist tradition.

“If we were to get rid of the Liberal party and become the NDP [ . . . ] then you’d have two parties where [ . . . ] ultimately within two to three elections they would be dictated by the extremes,” she argued.

“You see that in the United States, where the Republican Party has had a history of modernity and now they’re being dictated by the Tea Party movement. That left-right dichotomy of the extremes are what kind of drive the political agenda.”

Copps also stressed the importance of unity between the provincial and federal parties, pointing out that the endorsement of NDP candidate Theresa Oswald by two former Liberal MPs “was a real blow” to the provincial Liberal party.

“I’ve always believed that a Liberal is a Liberal is a Liberal. If the provincial party withers, the national party’s going to follow fairly closely,” she said.

“Even if you say you’re a federal Liberal you still have a vested interest in having the Liberal brand strengthened provincially. I think we need unity in the party, and we need to stop shooting ourselves in the foot.”

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