Liberals offer Canadians conversations, $1 each

Scott Feschuk on how the federal Liberals are trying to rebuild, and the results are absolutely adorable

A million conversations, only $1 a piece

Getty Images; iStock; Photo Illustration by Taylor Shute

Anyone out there remember the Liberal Party of Canada? Governed our country for the better part of the 20th century. Produced five leaders who each ruled the land for at least eight years. Briefly tried to convince us that John Manley had charisma. Is any of this ringing a bell?

What some of you may not know is that the Liberal party still exists. It’s true! In fact, by one measure the Liberals currently rank second of the three major federal parties. (That measure? Alphabetical order.)

The buzzword among party members these days is renewal. This month Liberals will gather in Ottawa for the party’s biennial convention (“biennial” from the Latin meaning “no longer able to afford an open bar”). At the convention, Liberals will try to demonstrate they are a relevant 21st-century political force by refusing to accredit bloggers and likely choosing old-guard stalwart and human klaxon Sheila Copps to be party president. EVERYONE CLEAR THE TRACKS FOR THE RENEWAL TRAIN!

Okay, so maybe Liberals aren’t that great at rebuilding. But they are trying, and the results are adorable.

First the party tried to land 5,000 new members or membership renewals. In a written appeal, the national membership secretary said that when supporters ask him why it’s the right time to join, he always responds: “If not me, who? If not now, when?” I think we can all agree this is a pretty terrible answer. It contains zero reasons to sign up and two questions that can be parried with the replies “Maybe that dude over there” and “Never.”

More recently, the party unveiled what interim leader Bob Rae insisted would be a “game-changing” initiative: the Million Conversations Campaign.

During this fundraising effort, the party asked supporters to fork over $1 million—with Rae claiming that “every dollar you donate will help us start one more conversation with a Canadian about the issues they care about.”

It wasn’t made clear how the math of a dollar per conversation would work. Are they going to be held by pay phone? Will certain Canadians be paid the minimum wage to listen politely? (A buck? You’ve got my attention for six minutes. Go.)

What matters most is that Rae launched the campaign with possibly my favourite line ever from a political fundraising appeal: “That’s why, as winter falls, and the shimmering holiday lights remind us of the values we cherish, I’m calling on all Liberals . . . ”

So poetic! Surely no one among us hasn’t sat back, gazed upon the shimmering lights on the Christmas tree and immediately thought to themselves: free health care and equality of opportunity for Aboriginals.

But forget about the timeless Liberal value of household electrical outlets—what about all those chit-chats? “As national director of the Liberal Party of Canada, it’s going to be my job to turn a million dollars into a million conversations,” Ian McKay wrote to party members. “Politics isn’t rocket science. It’s about people talking to people.”

Actually, politics is about cutthroat tactics, relentless message control and making Andrew Coyne get all tut-tutty on Twitter about your MPs’ juvenile antics—but the point remains: the Liberals really want to talk to Canadians about . . . something.

“Think for a minute about the awesome power of one million constructive conversations,” MP Ralph Goodale wrote to supporters. Think about it. Consider it. LET IT MARINATE IN YOUR BRAIN JUICES, CANADA.

Personally, I might have considered donating to the Million Conversations Campaign if I could have had input into the subjects of the conversations.

Dear Liberal party: here is $5. Please conduct conversations with five Canadians on the following topics:

—the third season of Dukes of Hazzard

—thickest moustaches of the Yukon

—the efficacy of quantitative easing in a time of economic stagnation


—are you going to finish that sandwich?

In the end, Liberals raised enough money to hold 1,004,750 “conversations.” This prompted Bob Rae to dispatch a triumphant missive: “I asked you for a holiday miracle and you made it happen.”

You heard him right, folks. Getting people to donate money to the Liberal Party of Canada now qualifies as a holiday miracle. The game has truly been changed.

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Liberals offer Canadians conversations, $1 each

  1. My personal favorite email in this campaign was from Paul Martin (Anyone remember Paul Martin?)

    It’s my favorite not because of any of the particular platitudes it used to solicit my donation, but because of his seemingly random underlining of the word ‘on’.

    I also giggled at the last line of his e-mail:

    “That idea, amplified by a million conversations, will quickly spread into millions more. But only if you make it happen before midnight, Monday, December 12.”

    The renewal isn’t a train, it’s a virus!

  2. The Liberal party just randomly sent me $5, so I guess I’m your guy:

    —the third season of Dukes
    of Hazzard

    In this season, Bo and Luke
    get up to some antics, which Boss Hogg attempts to thwart, with sexy results….

    —thickest moustaches of the


    —the efficacy of
    quantitative easing in a time of economic stagnation

    During a time of economic
    stagnation, building a factory that manufactures quantitative easing is a great
    way to create jobs. No, YOU don’t know what you’re talking about.


    yel·low/ˈyelō/ Adjective, i.e. “Maclean’s cover page headlines over the last 5 years are great examples of
    yellow journalism” Heyyyoooooo

    —are you going to finish
    that sandwich?

    Probably not. I’ll trade
    the rest of it for your Capri Sun.

  3. I like their idea of cumulative conversations.

    And I would also like to ask, when so many people are dissatisfied the the ethics and practices of our politicians, what do you gain by sarcastically poo-pooing any effort to change?
    You haven’t really made a substantial argument against the campaign, you’ve just made fun of it.

    Also, when opposition parties are having their funding cut, I don’t see the problem with fundraising. But if someone knows something different about the opposition funding situation please share. 

    • I think the point is that they’re not making an effort to change, they’re making an effort to fund raise using the word change but offering no scope for what they want to change. 

      But hey, the strategy of ambiguous change worked to elect a us president, why not to revive a flailing spectre of a Canadian political party.

    • Because nicole, once oh my, again, predictably, painfully, it isn´t about you or me or things Canadian, it is make sure you´re clear, it is about the Liberal Party. Only.

    • Like your thinking, nicole.jl.  However, this is a Feschuk blog post.  Believe it or not, these are meant strictly for humour. 

      As to the subject of this particular, not extremely amusing (I rate it one point higher than ‘cute’) post, I did find that particular fundraising effort a bit weak, as did several of my Liberal colleagues.  I think people gave because they had a bit of cash and a bit of room in their donation limit and the fundraising appeals could have just said.  “Hey, we’re still broke over here.  Got some room in your donation limit?  Please send money now.” and had the same effect.

      I did not, nor plan to ever, run for fundraising chair :)

  4. So what we’ve learned here is that Feschuk will work for $10/hr.. ie, less than a buck over minimum wage in most provinces, and under it in Ontario.

    Seems about right.

  5. Hilarious Scott. I paticularly loved the line about AC getting all tutty on twitter…lol

    As one of the libs who got that message i came on here all prepared to be a bit pissy at you -i should have known better. Lots of libs did object to that message as being ridiculously inappropriate around Christmas time, what with so many other needs and so on; i mean really, contribute by midnight or BR will be forced to stand on a street corner with a megaphone…enough already. I particularly loved the take way line to…donate and your job is done…barf! Hopefully the party got the message, yes we know you need our money, but please don’t couch it in some syrupy hallmark reject appeal…just give us the straight goods.
    They should have given the appeal to you eh!

    “Time to cough up liberal party bretheren and sisterhood. Time to pay the piper, cough up some party protection money, time for us to stop blowing raspberries at Stevie the meanie and hire us some professional muscle. Yes, i think it’s time to let Sheila the human klaxon loose on those poor bastards over at field marshal VonSteves place. Anyone who remembers the last time we were forced to go this route is well aware of the awesome consequences – three seats for Kim and Brian forced to cash in his shares in air Canada and buy some brown paper envelopes. Well, they don’t have Crosbie to mitigate the fall out anymore, but they can’t say they didn’t ask for it. I advise everyone to take shelter and stock up on thyroid tablets. So, rummage through your piggy banks, cancel that winter vacation in Cancun and cough up you cheap skates – it’s game on. I intend to do my bit, i’ll even cash in those dodgy off shore shipping bonds Paul gave me for not testifying at gomery.
    Merry Xmas, SF.

  6. Any sour grapes about being a former Liberal staffer, Scott?

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