Sunday, November 26, 2006

Policy Watch

With all the hullabaloo about Quebec nationhood last week, some key policy announcements from Gerard Kennedy were overshadowed. So, I'm going to take a minute to repost them here just because the only way the man could get media attention in this race would be to announce he plans to nationalize the banks, introduce abortion laws, raise the GST and then streak naked across Parliament Hill - even even then, the only reason he'd get press is because the media is more fascinated by Liberal candidates who bare all than by those who talk about policy. [/end rant]


Party Renewal

I've said from the start that the Liberal Party needs to renew itself. If you're a Liberal who thinks things are all rosy in Liberal land and that the last election was just the voters sending the Liberals to the penalty box, only to be returned to our natural governing party status within a year, then this won't mean much to you. If you think the party needs to make real changes and work to regain the trust of Canadians, then it's probably worth a read.

Gerard has released a very detailed discussion paper on this which I encourage everyone to read. I'm not 100% sold on all the ideas in there but here are some of the ones I really do like:

• Developing a detailed and ongoing policy process that will engage Liberals and other interested Canadians including regularly circulated discussion papers and a policy weekend to discuss and debate reports (including a "Liberal Policy Weekend" within 3 months of the leadership vote).

• Developing a 308 riding strategy for the next election to win seats and become more competitive in traditionally unheld ridings.

• Implement a three-line voting system. To make the system meaningful, in any parliamentary session, no more than 25 per cent of votes should be three-line votes (ie - confidence motions) and at least 50 per cent of votes should be one-line votes (ie - free votes).

• Mandate that every caucus member hold six town hall meeting per year with their constituents in order to qualify to run in the next election.

• Create an Equal Voice Unit to ensure that the party has 50% female candidates and a 50% female Cabinet. The unit will develop a system of fundraising, candidate recruitment, and help train female candidates and female campaign managers to help ensure we meet the above outlined targets.


Agriculture

I'll be honest - agriculture isn't a big issue for me. But I know Gerard is committed to making gains in Western Canada so it's good to see him putting forward some ideas which should appeal to farmers. You can click here for the specific proposals but the key messages from the platform are:

• Revamp and strengthen farm income support systems with increased share from the federal government.

• Devise an investment strategy to promote diversification, innovation and value-added growth in agriculture to benefit primary producers.

• Pursue a reinvigorated trade and domestic marketing plan, which defends the rights of Canadian farmers and opens new opportunities in order to ensure that our farmers have the economies of scale that the larger market requires.


Foreign Policy

Gerard didn't announce any new foreign policy this week but I was very pleased to see that Stephane Dion has followed Gerard's lead on Afghanistan in calling for a withdrawal if the current mandate isn't changed. It just goes to show that despite only having provincial experience, Kennedy can certainly hold his own on national issues such as foreign policy.

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