Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Shhh! The Liberals are talking policy again!

If there’s one oft-repeated meme from the opposing parties, the media punditry and others, it’s that the Liberals aren’t talking policy, and they really should be, because people need to know what they stand for other than not liking Stephen Harper.

The problem with this criticism, of course, is that it requires the observer to not pay any attention to the reality that, hey, actually the Liberals have been talking specific, detailed policy for some time.

Yesterday, for example, Ujjal Dosanjh, Carolyn Bennett and Hedy Fry fanned-out across the country to try to kick-start a national debate on the future of medicare. (The Citizen gave it 95 words)

Health care is the focus of what will be one of the signature pieces of the next Liberal election platform: the Liberal Family Care Plan. Announced earlier this year, it includes a new six-month Family Care Employment Insurance Benefit similar to the EI parental leave benefit, and a new Family Care Tax Benefit, modeled on the Child Tax Benefit.

Want more health policy specifics? How about:

* a National Food Policy
* a national brain strategy to help Canadians fighting Alzheimer’s
* a program to get more doctors and nurses to rural Canada by forgiving up to $20,000 in student loans

How about economic policy? In October, Ralph Goodale, Scott Brison and Marc Garneau fanned-out across the country to talk about the economy, and outline Liberal economic policy prescriptions.

Like what? Well, how about:

*a deficit reduction path of one per cent of gdp within two years
*fiscal prudence by restoring the budgeting buffer
*new programs must be financed without increasing the deficit
*freeze corporate tax rates by postponing decreases we can’t afford

And here’s one that really deserves more attention: the Liberal Open Government Initiative. It will:
*Immediately restore the long-form census;
*Make as many government datasets as possible available to the public online free of charge at in an open and searchable format, starting with Statistics Canada data, including data from the long-form census;
*Post all Access to Information requests, responses, and response times online at; and
*Make information on government grants, contributions and contracts available through a searchable, online database at

Confronted with the reality that, wow, the Liberals are actually talking all kinds of policy, I expect to soon be hearing the media and punditry complaining: why are the Liberals wasting their time talking about policy! They should be attacking the Conservatives; no one cares about policy!

When they do, remember you heard it here first.

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CanadianSense said...

They should not run a provincial platform.

They are lifting too many ideas in the area they can't control.

Jesse said...

Good post, a good summary. I still worry that these things aren't getting attention, and it's really not helpful to just blame the press.

Ted Betts said...

By contrast, 2010... the year Harper shut down Parliament for 3 months so he could "re-calibrate"... was a wasted year with the Conservatives introducing and passing virtually no new legislation, and certainly no legislation of any significance.

Ted Betts said...

"Among those legislative items that are further behind than they were at this time last year are supposed Conservative priorities, like a bill that would stiffen sentences for drug offences and a proposal to grant police new investigative powers. Counting the three bills that are set to be granted royal assent Wednesday afternoon, the Conservatives will have passed a meagre 11 bills through Parliament over the past 12 months, leading Le Devoir to conclude that “2010 was a total waste on the legislative front.” "

Jeff said...

Jesse, I don't (at least entirely) blame the national press for a lack of coverage. But when they contend the Liberals aren't talking policy despite all evidence to the contrary, then they and I have issues.

Jesse said...

I would agree. I heard the admission on The House this week that the Liberals had been doing pretty well from a reporter... do you have quotes you want to throw down?

CanadianSense said...

3 months or 17 sitting days?

non-partisan group months on MSM

Iggy caught in France, Jack snorkeling down south when Liberal war room does Waldo cartoon for our PM.

CTV reports PM at work. (Too funny)

PM cancels March Break and Ignatieff skips parliament for cross country listening tours as parliament opens after Olympics.

Ted really? CPC pick up 2/3 seats in 2010. (5/7 in by elections)

The Liberals need more than health policies and education to win trust/relevance. (Iggy did this Power Play with Tom Clark in December 2008)
National Education, National Grid, National Daycare, Big Party.

Liberals stole corporate tax the rich from NDP. Bill C 311 also NDP private bill.

Liberal Senator Dallaire, Kenney support F35.

Same with border thinning old guard moving away from current leadership talking points.

Liberals should not challenge CPC on patriotism it turned out very bad for Turner on TV.

900ft Jesus said...

thanks, Jeff. Nice to finally see something specific from them.

Gayle said...

"3 months or 17 sitting days?"

3 months, what with prorogation being all about preventing the committee from sitting, which it could have done otherwise even when the House was not in session.


Ted Betts said...

(It's her magical calendar, Gayle. Think of it like a child's imaginary friend.)

Ted Betts said...

Conservatives: too busy passing the buck to pass any legislation.

Brian said...

Now if they would say something about restoring Canada's international image.