Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Liberal Platform

The Liberal launched their platform online Sunday. It's an impressive document that uses the word "Family" 96 times in it. And while the Family Pack will be the policies that get the most attention, what caught my eye was the Democratic Reform section.

Back in 2006, the GST cut grabbed the most headlines, but I'm still convinced the Accountability Act was Harper's most important platform plank. That's because it gave him the right to speak on the corruption issue and showed his government would be different (ha ha ha!). Until then, he was just an angry guy throwing stones. The Accountability Act gave him real credibility on the ethics issue and gave voters fed up with Adscam a reason to vote for him, not just a reason to vote against the Liberals.

While the Liberals have taken great joy in pointing out the many reasons to vote against the Tories on the ethics file, they have yet to offer much of an alternative. So, with the platform launched, let's see what they're promising:

1. A more open government: All access to information requests will be posted online and a new website will let Canadians search for financial information on grants, contributions, and contracts. Oh, and the long form Census will be coming back.

2. Reforming Parliament: Many of Michael Chong's thoughtful QP reforms have been lifted. In addition, the Liberals are promising regular face-to-face meetings between the party leaders, limits on the PM's power to prorogue, and a People's Question Period. All good policies.

3. Modernizing the Voting System: A pilot program to try out online voting for soldiers, students, and all those other unpatriotic Canadians living outside the country.

All of these are good proposals. They're not sexy, so it really comes down to how they're packaged and how heavily they're sold. If the Liberals do try to turn up the heat on Harper over ethics, I hope they highlight this alternative to combat the perception out there that all parties are the same.


  • I don't buy it.

    A more open government? Hot air from the Liberals, of all people.

    Reforming Parliament. From the Liberals? Yeah right.

    Moderning the Voting System. Like, as in PR? Oh, no, online voting. YAWN. At least this one I believe might actually happen.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 5:41 PM  

  • Troll

    On the flip side -
    Conservative financial mismanagement

    Conservative open government

    Conservative ethics

    Unlike those who remember the NEP, I remember Meech Lake and the reason the Tories went down to two too many...

    Bemused Lurker

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:17 PM  

  • The Long Form Census never went away.

    What you mean is that the Liberals are promising to bring back the threat of jail time for those who don't complete the Long Form.

    Of course, they'll tell you that nobody has any complaints about completing it (and that they won't actually send anyone to jail) - and then they'll cry that voluntary completion isn't enough because too many people refuse to complete it.

    Hypocrites and Liars!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:26 PM  

  • CG: They are good policies, but you should know that the open government stuff was proposed MANY months ago (www.liberal.ca/open), so interesting that you only noticed them now.

    The prorogation limits were proposed over a year ago (they aren't spelled out in the platform, but Iggy said then that he would only prorogue after a debate in the Commons and that it wouldn't be possible if a non-confidence motion was pending).

    It's good stuff, but they could always go a lot further as Andrew Coyne and Kady O'Malley pointed out.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:29 PM  

  • I think this is the first analysis that I've seen that focused on some of the principles and not the programs and costs. Interesting stuff.

    As you pointed out, little (none?) of the platform is jaw-dropping, but it will give Iggy a tool to drive the conversation. That could blow up in his face if he finds himself always on the defensive, but currently he is the only one with "meat" in his platform - and this is a short campaign.

    By Blogger Matthew, at 7:52 PM  

  • Two things I've learned about Liberal platforms:

    1. They don't keep their promises.

    2. That's a good thing.

    P.S. You're not a troll if you're not anonoymous :)

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 8:00 PM  

  • The CPC's deceit will not excuse the LPC's deceit. Two guilty parties do not make an innocence.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 10:11 PM  

  • Robert Vollman wrote: "P.S. You're not a troll if you're not anonoymous :)"

    "If they run, they're VC. If they stand still, then they're well-trained VC."

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:27 PM  

  • Yes, I do think they should have gone further on the DemRef stuff, to make the point. But this is a start at least.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:26 AM  

  • First Anon - I'm fine to be proven wrong if we keep a 95% response rate on the long form, but most are projecting it will be in the 50-66% range.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:27 AM  

  • Cap & Trade? Not jaw dropping?

    By Blogger Candace, at 4:02 AM  

  • Yeah, I'm not enthused about these changes. We need to eliminate the power of party leaders to veto party nominations, we need to even the playing field for independent candidates, we need to consider real electoral reform.

    These are nice, but uninspiring. And if they can't get me, a total parliamentary procedure and democratic reform geek excited, then who is going to pay any attention to them at all among the normal public?

    Strategically, I'd stay away from trying to sell these.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:41 AM  

  • Really helpful data, thank you for the post.

    By Anonymous muebles camobel, at 3:23 AM  

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