Here's my take (and dilemma) on the resolutions/proposals, simplified:
If we choose a leader too early - before we have a chance to build/re-build a new way of doing things - we fail. We will open ourselves up to attack from other parties, while we still work at building our party infrastructure (which needs some serious re-thinking, including bringing in requirements for monthly EDA meetings, regular "come-and-go socials", lower cost of entry for events, etc.) and base to combat such attacks effectively. Of course electing a leader within a year or 1.5yrs will allow the leader to get themselves "known" among the public. It also exposes a newly elected leader to attack ads a'la Dion and Iggy. Will we be ready organizationally to fend of such attacks? Will the funds be in place to sustain an immediate and long-term pro-Liberal/pro-Leader PR campaign? Will the front-line be organized with riding websites, discussion groups, regular meetings, doing pre-writ door-knocking, etc.?
If we wait too long we risk becoming irrelevant as a party. Already the NDP is coming to the forefront... the media has interest in the results of the "orange crush", the young MPs, and the new dynamics of Parliament. Even with Bob around, it's become a case of "what about Bob?" as we won't get much airplay perceived as "lame duck" (as a party, and referring to the interim role). A leadership convention creates much valued media coverage, a new level of energy as thousands across the land are engaged by candidates and their teams, and a general bringing-to-the-forefront of the party.
If we set the date "too early", will we really be swamped with "leadership politics"? Does the public even care right now? Will ANY leadership hopeful actually successfully sell many new memberships at a time when we are the 3rd party, and when the NDP and Conservatives are seen as the "best chances" for many who are seeking political involvement?
A lot of what I've mentioned above will change depending on the new leader. A bold, effective leader who is a strong public speaker, will attract more than party stalwarts and long-time members. An effective "retail" politician will play the populist card well. We are no longer in a position to mold our leader strictly by ourselves. Other parties WILL attack past positions on issues. They will attack her/him on their "style" - aided by a vocal private media.
So, what do we do?
Right now I'm leaning towards delaying the leadership. I strongly feel our party organization and structure need an overhaul. I strongly feel our EDAs are too often ineffective - and lack clear direction on simple effective communication strategies. Too many members are left "out of the loop". Many party "insiders" are blind to this fact. In elected positions, or working for the party many have become comfortable with the status quo. The "fix" is not a 6 month, or even one year process. Leadership politics can throw a wrench into the works, as leadership teams work to "control" EDAs (while online memberships have resolved this problem somewhat, the old "urges" are still there - and will just galvanize sides).
The other point to consider is this: We put a very dynamic, very intelligent interim leader in place - who is keen on re-building. We have a dedication to work towards this goal. Holding a leadership in 2012 won't even let that process get much past the starting point. After some "formal" organization processes we will need to "train" riding associations on effective marketing, online resources and tools, organization building, and campaigning. This will take time.
This is a very special "extraordinary" process. So... tell me... How should I vote? Please feel free to debate in the space below...