Federal Liberal Party leadership candidate Justin Trudeau, left, puts his arm around fellow candidate Martin Cauchon as Martha Hall Findlay, right, looks on following a debate in Vancouver on January 20, 2013.
Credits: REUTERS/ANDY CLARK
OK, that's a bit harsh. I'm sure I wasn't the only person in the world who watched the Liberals' ultra-tame "debate" last weekend. For instance, there were 400 people in the auditorium with the nine hopefuls. No doubt at any moment at least half of them were awake.
On top of that, there must have been a few dozen shut-ins across the country whose caregivers had left the room for a while and couldn't surf away to another website immediately.
The event was so devoid of clash or content, no one would have watched unless they had to. If it proved anything, it's that "Davos-style" debate - in which a moderator converses with each candidate separately - is unsuited to a political contest.
But beyond the yawn-inducing format, the Winnipeg event showed the Liberals have a deep problem: They have failed to reinvent themselves since suffering their worst electoral showing since Confederation in the 2011 federal election.
It's as if the party sees its third-place finish (the first time in 41 elections it failed to finish first or second) as a great mistake by voters - a mistake Canadians will soon regret and return in hordes to Canada's natural governing party. It's as if Liberals believe they don't need to change. They merely need to stand guard over their old flame until Canadians come to their senses.
Eight of the nine contestants could correctly be labelled as Chretien-era Liberals, or even Trudeau- or Pearson-era. Their polices are throwbacks to the party's bygone glory days of social engineering and technocratic tinkering with any and every aspect of daily life - economic, social and cultural.
Meanwhile, the ninth candidate, Justin Trudeau is largely popular because he reminds Grits of their late sainted leader - Justin's daddy, Pierre.
The party's website declares, "It's time to shake up Canadian politics and do things differently." How?
Their method for choosing a new leader is different, that's for sure. There will be no delegates selected by members converging from across the country to choose a new leader. Instead, anyone can go online, declare themselves a Liberal "supporter" and cast a vote.
That makes this nothing but a popularity contest in which name recognition will be the deciding factor, which means Justin Trudeau has already won since he is the only candidate most Canadians - including Liberal "supporters" - can name.
But the Liberals' problems go far deeper than their wonky leadership process. Their ideas are old and tired, as well.
For instance, in Winnipeg the candidates all agreed on either decriminalizing marijuana or legalizing it.
Believe it or not, I was once a Young Liberal. At the party's 1978 national policy convention, I was even chief whip of the youth caucus. We were able to pass a resolution calling for the decriminalization of weed. By my count, that makes this "bold" new Lib plank at least 35 years old.
The candidates also agreed Canada needs more crime-prevention strategies - like hugs and youth sports facilities - rather than the Tories' tough-on-crime measures. But it was 1971 when the government of Pierre Trudeau announced that prevention and rehabilitation would trump punishment in Canada's criminal justice system, which makes that idea at least 42 years old.
Ditto the call for universal, high-speed Internet and billions more for First Nations. Expensive, government-funded benefits for all Canadians has been a Liberal idea since ... well, since forever.
Canada's once mighty Liberals have done little to reshape themselves for a new era, something that becomes more obvious as their leadership campaign drags on.