If Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau really wants his party to have a serious policy conference next year, we better get to work. It is tough to come up with coherent policies for a party that does not understand where it stands. It is even more difficult for a federal party to be progressive when its provincial counterparts are all on the political right wing. If the Conservatives in Canada were not extremists, there would be little difference between them and the Liberals.
And most Canadians are unaware that there is a difference. They see the Conservatives as more aggressive, harsher on law and order, stingy on social expenditures but willing to offer the voters bribes with their own money. In turn, Liberals are seen as more vacillating, soft on crime, wasteful on social spending and also willing to bribe the voters with their own money. And then there is the New Democratic Party—on the run from socialism.
What these perceptions mean is that if the Liberals and other parties follow the same old-same old patterns in the coming election, we might as well declare Stephen Harper Supreme Ruler for Life.
Alternatively, Liberals can run as Liberals. That is a breed of politician that we have not seen for a while in this country. Liberals are the real reformers—they are the progressives who put individual rights ahead of everything else. Liberals are the true social democrats because they recognize that the fulfilment of individual needs best serves society’s needs.
Justin Trudeau has already indicated that he wants federal support to lower the cost of post-secondary education. This is one of the keys to individual fulfillment. While Trudeau is just talking some financial relief at this point, the objective of a Liberal government should be free higher education for all who can make the grades.
After many years of abuse, the federal role in Medicare has to be reviewed. One of the keys is a national conference of federal and provincial finance and health ministers to assess needs and improve long term funding. We will never have all the solutions but this is moving way ahead of the Harper government attitude.
We also have to address the sham of trades training perpetrated by the Conservatives. Again, a cooperative approach with the provinces to make sure the job is getting done has to be used.
And if we really want to be creative as a federal government, Liberals need to promote the idea of a Canadian constitutional conference by citizens elected in federal electoral districts across Canada. Such a constitutional conference could take a couple years but when the country votes on the proposals in a referendum, they will know what the proposals mean.
Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry
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