Here’s how the online edition of the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines consultation:
Main Entry: con•sul•ta•tion
Date: 15th century
1: council, conference; specifically : a deliberation between physicians on a case or its treatment
2: the act of consulting or conferring
Most of us learned the word back in grade school but vocabulary must be one of those use it or lose it type things, because the Ottawa press corps seems to have forgotten what it means:
Caucus pressure drives Dion to make green-plan concessions
SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER
September 3, 2008
WINNIPEG -- Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion is changing his controversial carbon tax plan on the eve of an expected election campaign amid pressure from his caucus members.
The policy will now incorporate breaks for farmers, truckers and fishermen in the form of subsidies to help buy equipment to reduce use of diesel fuel.
Mr. Dion will announce the changes in his plan regarding the farming sector today in Winnipeg, where he is attending his national caucus summer retreat. The subsidies to the other sectors will be announced later, sources said.
The Conservatives are trying to frame this as some kind of embarrassing climb-down for Stephane Dion, like he’s being forced into making concessions by Green Shift opponents. And a gullible media is playing along.
Maybe it really does seem like that to journalists have political observers who have had their minds warped by Stephen Harper’s control-freak Ottawa, a town where Harper and Doug Finley decide what selected demographic population segments want to hear, talking-points are dispatched to those MPs allowed to appear in public and anyone that meanders off-script gets whacked. That may be the new Ottawa normal, but it wasn’t always so.
It may seem weird and strange when contrasted with The Harper Way, but what’s happening with The Green Shift is exactly how policy is supposed to be developed. Policy is put out there, MPs talk to their constituents and gather feedback, bring those concerns back to the party, and the policy is tweaked as appropriate.
Not only is that how policy is supposed to be developed, not only is it an important facet of the functioning of a truly democratic party, but it also just plain makes for better policy. As a Canadian from a ruralish area, even if I do now reside in Hogtown, I was concerned that the Green Shift might not have done enough to address the realities of life of non-urban Canadians, so I’m pleased there will be some tweaks.
And this process serves to underline the diversity of the Liberal caucus. We’ve got people that can speak to the concerns of farmers, to the concerns of rural and Northern residents, to the concerns of urbanites. Getting all their input, and adjusting the Green Shift plan to recognize their constituencies’ legitimate concerns, make this a better policy. And no matter how Stephen Harper may define it, in my view listening, consultation and dialogue is how I would to define leadership.
When contrasted with the authoritarian command and control of Harper, I’ll choose Dion’s open and consultative style any day of the week. When presented with the contrast and the choice, I think Canadians will too.
UPDATE: Jason has some thoughts and so does BCL. And Danielle too. Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers