Last weekend, the New Brunswick Progressive Conservatives had a policy conference in Moncton and came out with few specifics. Not that this is surprising: the fixed provincial election isn’t until next year, and the PCs don’t want to risk coming up with policies that could be lambasted for the next twelve months.
That said, the party will be stressing citizen engagement in the election build-up: an obvious platform, considering how haphazardly the Liberal government has sought the will of the people before moving forward (see just about anything in education). Two of the specific statements that came out of the convention (scrapping ambulance fees and restoring vehicle registration renewal notices) are very small things that are reflex reactions to things the Liberals have done. The other promise, a pledge not to force municipal amalgamations, is, as Jacques Poitras pointed out, is a reflex reaction to something the Liberals aren’t doing. MIA is PC policy on post-secondary education, or any sign of great vision for the province, like Shawn Graham’s “Charter for Change” in 2006 or Bernard Lord’s “200 Days of Change.” Instead, if this paid political advertisement Telegraph-Journal column is to believed, the Tories plan to be responsible, modest, and just plain better than the Liberals. I’m still wanting to know how.
I’ve put off writing about the Tories’ conference in the vain hope that the party would post a complete policy document online. As it stands, the only item in the policy section of the PC website is their 2006 election platform. Considering the PCs’ promises of citizen engagement, and the fact that we’re nearly a decade into the twenty-first century, it seems somewhat asinine. Why not put your policy where the citizens can see it?
Plenty of newspaper wags (Harry Bruce in the Chronicle-Herald, Adam Radwanski and Lawrence Martin in the Globe and Mail, Chantal Hebert in the Star) think that Michael Ignatieff isn’t the great Liberal savior he’s supposed to be.
Iggy must sell himself, put forward some reasons that he should be prime minister. He seems to have bought the Liberal Party hype that they are the Natural Governing Party and that he’s going to land in the PMO because most people don’t trust Stephen Harper and the Conservatives with power. But most people didn’t trust Harper with power last year, but he still won enough votes – and seats – to strengthen his government’s standing.
Most people need a good reason to vote Liberal, and Iggy must put forward strong, distinctive ideas, ideas people can think about or talk about at Tim Horton’s. Otherwise, people will continue to vote for the Tories, the NDP, the Bloc, the Greens – or nobody at all. Emperor Ignatieff currently has no clothes, despite what his advisers might tell him. If he doesn’t believe that, let him be extremely embarrassed when he rides out, naked of ideas, to face the Canadian people.
And, while you’re pondering that, here’s a link to what I’ll be talking about next time. Discuss amongst yourselves.