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Liberal Party dead? Not in Guelph

Web posted on April 15, 2007

Political pundits and national columnists have been spending considerable time lately bemoaning the state of the Liberal Party of Canada. Received wisdom has party morale at a low ebb and finances suffering. While we don't purport to know the truth of either of these conditions, it appears obvious that locally the party is alive, well and even flourishing.

Last Thursday's nomination meeting at which Frank Valeriote got the nod as candidate for the next election, saw over 1600 members turn out to vote. Enthusiasm was at a high pitch and volunteers for the contenders made sure no one felt neglected. The front-running candidates, aided by an army of volunteers, endeavoured to meet every potential voter who came through the door. Banners and balloons were everywhere. Marva Wisdom supporters were even handing out foil-wrapped chocolates with her name embossed on each one. In fact, the whole event had the flavour of a major party event.

Compare this to the respectable crowd of about 600 that turned out at the Conservative nomination meeting to select Brent Barr as their candidate. While some placards were waved and some individuals cheered their favourite, the whole event was low-key and, well, not a very lively party.

At the meeting where the NDP acclaimed Tom King as its candidate, the crowd numbered between 100 and 200. King made a rousing acceptance speech and received a standing ovation. But, sadly, even with party leader Jack Layton in attendance, the evening was short on enthusiasm.

Now, we acknowledge that enthusiasm and excitement aren't the only measures of a vibrant political party. But the Liberals appear to have the numbers too - and this could be the difference when we go to the polls.