Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The party of the mainstream CEOs, take two

Okay, I lied, I do have something to say about the Liberal leadership race.

Regular listeners of Greg Staples' Bloggers Hotstove may remember the now-dearchived final podcast of the summer. It was a particularly contentious one where, among other things, Greg Bester and Jason Cherniak got into a bit of a spat over the exhorbitant cost of attending the Liberal leadership convention. Greg pointed out to Jason that the delegate fee for the NDP's fall convention was going to be $95, while the Liberals were going to be charging more than ten times as much at $995. Jason shot back that this had nothing at all to do with trying to make money on the backs of their delegates and everything to do with the fact that there would be so many more people attending the Liberal convention than would be attending the NDP convention.

This sounded fishy to me at the time, of course. I mean, there wouldn't really be ten times as many people attending the Liberal convention as would be attending the NDP convention, would there? But then again, I was just a silly immigrant who had never attended one of these convention things, so what did I know. It would, after all, be a leadership convention, and lots of people would be scrambling to attend who wouldn't ordinarily bother.

Well, the NDP convention has been and gone, and onsite they were telling us that there were around 1600 attendees. The official convention site is a bit more modest, reporting "more than 1500." And the Liberals? A Hill Times article projects attendance at their convention to be between 2000 and 3000.


Rob Cottingham said...

I remember the "It's because there are so many more people coming" rationale, because it left me gobsmacked.

First, there's this weird mathematical effect Jason's forgetting: a given number of people times fee equals certain amount. But - and this is the tricky part - a larger number of people times fee equals a larger amount.

It's called multiplication; I think Wikipedia has an article. (I cut Jason some slack on this one, given that the Libs seemed only to have heard of subtraction for so much of their time in government.)

But second, whatever happened to economies of scale... where your costs per unit drop the more units you're churning out, because you can distribute fixed costs more widely? Isn't that pretty elementary economics - supposedly one of the Liberals' unique selling propositions?

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


I figured he was saying something like this: there are only a few facilities in the country that can house a convention as utterly humongous as the Liberals' leadership convention would be, and they charge such high booking fees that while the NDP could afford to keep costs comparatively low at their tiny little event, the Liberals simply couldn't.

In any case, the argument certainly looks a bit silly now.

Anonymous said...

Surely you "misspoke" rather than "lied"? Lying requires intention.

Rob Cottingham said...

You know, if that's what he meant, then my snarkiness was probably unwarranted, and I apologize. That's not to say I'm about to hire him as an event planner, though.

Phugebrins said...

I read that comment and thought it must have meant "we charge more because there's higher demand and limited supply". Not that *that* interpretation makes them look much better.

Anonymous said...

Rob, I still don't think your original comment was snarky or unwarranted. Naturally, it costs more to rent a large room than a small one. But I still find it difficult to believe that it would cost more per capita, much less ten times as much per capita. (Of course, it's not just the space, but food, printing, and administrative expenses should also scale.) I agree that an attitude of "It's big, so of course it's going to be irrationally expensive" doesn't endorse one as a party planner, and I might further suggest that it invites concern for a group of people who wish to be in charge of a nation's budget.

I would be curious to know what the frilliness of the two conventions were. Perhaps the Liberals believed in a surcharge for wine, women, and song to send their delegates off with a renewed sense of morale, and by contast the NDP were eating pizza and playing euchre in their spare time. If this distinction did turn out to be true, I wouldn't turn my nose up at either approach, although again it sends a message that is as loud as any policy declarations that arise from a convention.