Saturday, January 28, 2006

Out Of Power, Not Out Of Money

Rumours about the Liberal Party's impending financial collapse under the weight of massive debt may have been greatly exaggerated, if this TDH Strategies report of a recent Liberal conference call is to be believed:

° Paul Martin participated in the discussion

° David Herle accepted blame for the failure of the campaign

° The party is about $4-5 million in debt, a figure that is far lower than most were expecting

° Tom Axworthy has been tasked with writing a post-mortem report on how the campaign went so terribly wrong

° The outgoing caucus and cabinet will meet for the last time next week

° The following week, the new caucus will assemble and choose an interim leader. The early favourite still remains Bill Graham

° The party is obligated to hold a biennial convention (which is separate from the leadership convention) by the spring of 2007

° Most agreed that a leadership convention will likely have to take place in the late fall or in early 2007

° If it is held in October or November, the cutoff for signing up new members will be mid-June

And it looks like the taxpayer subsidy may cover even that reduced amount:

With voter turnout up from the last election, the Liberals will get an annual Elections Canada subsidy of about $7.8 million, which the party says is "a manageable" $1.3 million or so less than it received before.

Every vote the five mainstream political parties attract is worth about $1.75 to them each year in federal subsidies under rules that govern election financing.

The Liberals received 4,477,217 votes in Monday's election, according to unofficial results from Elections Canada.

If the Liberals' financial shape is better than believed, it may make sense for the party not to rush a leadership vote if they don't need the money raised from it to keep the wolf from the door.

The real threat to their finances may be ahead of them with a proposed ban on all corporate donations. If they don't adopt the Conservative strategy of encouraging grassroots donations first, then they really will be in trouble.

So it appears that the Liberals are not financially bankrupt, just morally so.

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