Steelcitygrit [in exile]

Ruminating on all things Canadian and political.


Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Call for Greater Content from Leadership Candidates

While the leadership field, despite media accounts, is more than well-stocked as far as talent and intelligence goes, there remains too little in the way of policy prescriptions. Make no mistake, this is not one of those commentaries which have sprung up that talk about it not being a race of ideas, and lacking in true renewal. That is nonsense. This is a very much idea-driven campaign. My issue is with the general availability of these discussions.

With the campaign well underway it is about time we get more than vague commitments and the like. Having said this, it is wrong to expect too detailed a platform at this point, as many elements of governance relate to the unexpected. For this reason, it is understandable to attempt to predict based on a candidates past how they would react to changing circumstances. However, with the membership sales deadline approaching relatively soon, the race needs to go beyond this. We should not have to parse speeches, and previous publications at this stage, though I would hope most would do so on top of what I'm calling for here. I am not even speaking of explicitly specific policy proposals, though obviously they would be welcome, but even a more general acknowlegement of a candidate's theoretical stance, and philosophy.

Most of the candidates' websites, which would seem a perfect outlet for this, are lacking in some level of a basic outline on where they stand on even general issues. While this varies, it is overall disappointing. While several sites have admirable policy "discussions," these go to one problem-involvement- but do little to adress the candidate's own positions. This brings us to the Scott Brison campaign site, which includes a policy section that is not overly intensive but at least covers in some detail his basic orientation to a variety of issues. This is by no means an endorsement of Scott Brison, indeed far from it (steelcitygrit has had excellent posts previously on why he is not the right candidate for the job, and I concur- see "Brison's Constructive Federalism" and "In Their Own Words: Part Two-Scott Brison."). But in reading this, it is hard to understand why this format is such a rarity. This should not be too much to expect.

While the candidates vary in their backgrounds, and some do have extensive writings, speeches, or political careers, that can be drawn upon, an outline of what distinguishes their candidacy from the more basic Liberal values that, while in most cases seeming to reflect a positive direction for the party, are not enough. Speeches are by their nature likely to be repetitive etc. We should all do our homework, as there is a wide variety of material out there to make informed decisions about the candidates, and they have outlined their positions on some issues in good detail, but a more wholehearted beginning doesn't seem to much to ask for such an important position. The website seems a good template for this.


Note: Sorry for the length, I'll try and trim them down from now on. Congrats if you made it through, though.


Blogger SteelCityGrit said...

Yeah, good post. I agree. You have candidates explicitly refusing to answer questions about policy because the forum/time isn't right. This doesn't make a lot of sense and it's not the way that this thing should work. I'm interested to see what level of substance we will see at the LPCO AGM.
(sorry I haven't been posting - I was in DC and elsewhere last week)

6:57 PM  
Blogger SteelCityGrit said...

If you want an illustration of what Steve is talking about, visit the "Policy" section of G. Kennedy's site.

7:52 PM  
Anonymous CuriosityKilledTheCat said...

Well said!

Liberals deserve more from those seeking to lead them.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Zac said...

I agree...we've heard broad vision and empty rhetoric but no policy.

There is, apparently, going to be a debate at the LPCO AGM. At first I thought that it was going to be the same as the LPCA, and perhaps it might still be, but I was told today that it is going to be a monitored, structured debate. Hopefully some policy will come of this.

Perhaps since they are all officially in the race now, the forum and time will be finally right.

3:49 PM  

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