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Spotted: Readers react to Newman on the death of the Liberal Party

Categories: Politics

peter-newman-cparchive-584.jpgAuthor Peter C. Newman, in a photo dated Oct. 15, 1968. (Canadian Press)

Celebrated author Peter C. Newman's book about the collapse of the Liberal Party of Canada following last spring's federal election elicited passionate feedback and debate from the CBC Community.

Newman, speaking to Evan Soloman on CBC Radio's The House, said he saw the demise of the Liberal Party while following former party leader Michael Ignatieff's bus tour.

Newman's new book, When The Gods Changed: The Death of Liberal Canada, details why he believes the Liberal Party of Canada is on the verge of dying.

In a poll, the CBC Community Team asked reader whether they thought the Liberal Party was beyond repair. 38 per cent of the roughly 1,000 responses answered Yes, 46 per cent said No, and 16 per cent said they were not sure.

Readers left over 600 comments debating whether the Liberal Party can truly recover, where its misfortunes started, and what it means for the future of both the House of Commons and the nation's citizens. Here's how some of the conversations played out.


"Weren't the Conservatives in the same state back in 1993? Look how that turned out." - Sens4ever

Some of the replies to Sens4ever:

  • "The big difference, as Newman correctly points out in the interview, is that the PC party's decimation in '93 was somewhat of an illusion. Sure they were reduced to 16% of the vote and only 2 seats, but that's in large part because a major chunk of their voter base simply defected to another newly-formed conservative party, Reform, which captured 19% of the vote and 52 seats. Add those up and "conservative" parties collectively still had 35% of the popular vote: not too bad overall, plus those 2 parties were much more naturally poised to become allies than the current Liberals are with, say, the NDP. In other words, whereas the Conservatives fell on hard times basically as a result of splitting into 2 parties which eventually reconciled, the Liberals have slowly and painfully watched their support simply bleed off to their long-standing adversaries, neither of which has much ideological interest in merging with them the way the 2 conservative parties did in '03." - undermedia
  • "The Progressive Conservatives had a natural ally to eventually merge with (or be absorbed by). The Liberals and the NDP have two distinct internal cultures that are far more different than the PCs and Reform/Conservative Alliance." - Bill Wolverton
  • "Today's Conservatives arose out of the Reform-Alliance parties. The Reform party was doing fine in '93. The PCs who had done so poorly then no longer exist as a federal party. Basically the Libs are in the position which the PCs were in '93. Newly placed as official opposition but not yet ready to govern, the New Dems are in a similar position to where Reform were at that time." - NanaimoGuy

"It may be the death of the pseudo-Liberal Party, but its not the death of liberalism." - Chabal

  • In response to Chabal: "[The] key part of liberalism is liberty. Why can't the Liberal Party get that and acknowledge that the vast majority of Canadians are responsible and would like to be represented rather than governed?" - Arctic Dude

Other readers expressed a mix of lament and exultation of the Liberal Party's misfortune.

  • "Don't bury the Liberals. They're not dead yet." - Buford Wilson
  • "Even as a Conservative I do not want to see the Liberal party extinguished. Though I doubt I will ever vote for the Liberals, I would like to see a strong liberal party. Political competition is good. What I would like to see the old Liberal regime out of there. Put fresh people in there." - PeterDN
  • "The grassroots of the party had no say in anything. They couldn't even elect their leader. The fat cats in the back room would tell them what is best. Who would work for a party like that?" - Betty White
  • "Newman expresses his opinions strongly, but one could argue whether his evidence is nearly as strong. The liberals are undergoing a renewal and it make take a lot of pain to get there." - NLcoaster
  • "Well there you have it...nobody thinks the Liberals will ever recover. I love it! Good Riddance." - Wulf32
  • "Liberals and NDP dividing the centre left and the left vote will never defeat the conservatives. It is time they awake their intelligence (yes, you have one and is sleeping) and start serious conversations about creating a new party that will take the country to a new beginning. The old format, the three parties, doesn't go anywhere." - Nachito

Several posters threw names into the hat for who they think would be the best leader for a rejuvenated Liberal Party, including Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, former British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell and former Liberal Deputy Prime Minister John Manley.

As always, thanks for your feedback.

Tags: Community Reaction, Liberals, Politics

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