One on One with GK - part 2
5. You’ve proposed a national learning strategy. As a former education minister are you at all concerned about the federal government going into provincial jurisdictions?
What I’m saying is that we need a national learning strategy. The federal government is in a position to do a lot of good working with the provinces. The provincial ministers know they need to step up and provide some form of national standards and co-operation to keep up with what’s happening internationally. What they will generally say is that they don’t have the resources. The federal government has to ensure that we don’t have any excuses for not keeping up.
The OECD study showed a 37% increase in enrolment in post-secondary education among the countries we compete with and in Canada it was 3%. We simply cannot advantage ourselves if we don’t find a way to have a consistent means of investing in education.
The jurisdictional part can be respected to a good degree. But like other challenges we have, we need a new way to collaborate with the provinces. What we need to ask is what power sharing arrangement will work best for the country? All of our efforts need to be focused on allowing us to compete with the global economy. I’m less interested in historical areas of jurisdiction but I am respectful of them. The provinces understand that they need to step up and set some national standards. The provinces need to step up and set those standards themselves but if that doesn’t happen, I’m determined to make it happen anyways.
We’re going to have a national daycare program and it’s going to be early learning. It will likely be even more focused than the effort we had before the last election. And we will have a catch-up in terms of research and development and post-secondary for funding, but those things need to come with an assurance of access and quality. There’s no other way we can get the Canadian public to see these investments are worthwhile. There’s no such thing as blank cheque federalism – federalism works both ways.
6. Any final thoughts on the campaign as we approach the convention?
What I’m trying to get to people right now is making sure that they understand the real price of admission and the real way to get success. There’s no shortcut available to us. I’m recommending a lot of hard work for the Liberal Party and it’s members and what I think is that we have to accept that politics have changed – the question is will the Liberal Party change? That doesn’t just mean the internal reforms. They matter but there's more which needs to be done.
The global economy is changing us and we haven’t sufficiently taken charge of that change. We also have an international community which needs leadership to come from Canada. It’s an ambition that I think Liberals need to contend with now. We can’t simply think about getting back without first thinking about why. Why does this country need Liberals? My counsel is that for those who think it’s simply going to be a reaction to Stephen Harper and we’re better than the other guys, is that those days are gone. There was a poll yesterday that said 62% of Canadians say we’re not ready to govern yet. It’s an earned priviledge. I’m hoping to make that a visceral issue. It’s about good jobs in some parts of the country. It’s about sustained growth, not just boom and bust cycles. It’s about a sense of purposes. I believe leadership isn’t just about spending money, it’s also about being prepared to lead the whole country, not just the federal departments. It’s about forging consensus with the municipal government, the provinces, the business sector, the world of labour, not for profits, and citizens at large. For me this is a condition we’ve fallen away from and we need to go after it.
I’m asking for a mandate to do two things. To make the Liberal Party one which will function again and will work in a much more effective way. The second thing is that I want to put forward a fairly ambitious view as to where we want to go long term. Tell Canadians that we want back in because we’re needed, not because we’re tired of these guys or that we think we’re entitled to it.
7. I’ve asked a lot of the other candidates this as well. For you, who would you have voted for on the Greatest Canadian show the CBC did a few years back?
Some people out there like Jean Vanier are pretty underrated in terms of what they did. He did a world based movement to respect people with disabilities and really committed himself thoroughly to changing the whole way people with mental disabilities are treated.
I still think doesn't get enough credit, not for inventing everything, but for what he got done. We have very little that’s essential to the country that wasn’t invented in the 60s and 70s and that’s more a comment on the rest of us.
I’d like to think of a good answer because I do believe we need to celebrate the people who set the mark and moved things along and Jean Vanier is often one who doesn’t get noticed.