Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Sounds of Silence

What have I taken from guest hosting Next Face this week: Any comment, even remotely critical, of any declared or undeclared leadership candidate evokes much emotion. The biggest complaint can be summed up as, “Why don’t you take (insert name of candidate here) seriously?"

Fine. Today I will take EVERYONE seriously. Let’s begin with their positions on the Federal Budget. It is a couple of days old and surely all the candidates have something to say. Right? Well not quite. Since, like most people, I didn’t have the opportunity to meet all these candidates in the past 48 hours I went to their web sites. What did I find faithful readers? Nothing. Only 2 candidates had posted a comment about the budget on their web sites. Kudos to Ms. Bennett and Mr. Dion. I’ll take a look at what they said further below but first a few words to the remaining candidates:

If you’re going to maintain an up-to-date website in the year 2006 you’ll have to post more on it than flattering pictures and reasons as to why you think you’re swell. The world is unfolding daily and we want to hear what you think. The first Conservative budget in 13 years is an excellent opportunity to outline the differences between you and Mr. Harper. Why pass up on the opportunity to show us what you would be like as Leader of the Liberal Party?

Okay let’s begin with Ms. Bennett:

She tells us that the budget is about “retail politics.” This means that this budget, “pander[s] to supporters and hid[es] the truth.” My first impression is that this is not terribly sophisticated stuff and that Ms. Bennett is not the first person in Canada to tell us that governments don’t tell us everything.

She then writes this howler, “Government is not about administrative tactics.” Let me say this Ms. Bennett: if you have not once thought about tactics in government or politics then please step aside. Either she really believes this or she is na├»ve. Not exactly the mind of a hardened political tactician wouldn’t you say?

High marks to Ms. Bennett however for at least starting to outline some semblance of a belief system when she writes: “The future of Canada's prosperity requires real investments in our kids, our aboriginal peoples, post secondary education, research, culture and the environment. This budget has slashed all these important investments in our future.” This is borderline “motherhood and apple pie” stuff here but we’ll take it.

Negatives for her reference to Mike Harris. Only a blind zealot would classify this most middle of the road – dare I call it Liberal budget – as Mike Harris like. This is the type of rhetoric that will win no votes. The electorate, especially in Ontario which lived through Mike Harris, will see this budget for the soft cushy feel good document it is. We are not Pavlovian dogs Ms. Bennett who start to froth at the mouth at the mere suggestion that something is like Mike Harris.

Thumbs up for her concern on how this budget will affect aboriginal people. We agree with her that by scrapping the Kelowna accord we are “back at the drawing board.

On the whole I would give her post a C and thank her for at least taking the time to tell us what she thinks.

On to Mr. Dion:

Mr. Dion thinks the budget is risky. At least he spells out what type of Prime Minister he’d be. He would be a spender … err … “investor”. Mr. Dion tells us the Conservatives failed to invest in: research and development, communities, in our quality of life and a sustainable environment. I imagine a Prime Minister Stephane Dion would spend money on just about everything – much like the NDP. Too clever by half though was his line that the Tories are offering Canadians, “Daycare through the mailbox.”

Again marks are taken off for his comment that Mr. Flaherty was the finance minister in Ontario and that we should just wait and see because he’ll do the same thing in Ottawa. The reality Mr. Dion, was that this budget was nowhere near as draconian as the ones the Ontario Tories brought down. This is just a fact.

So in total I too would give Mr. Dion a C+ as he went into a little bit more detail that Ms. Bennett

Overall they both delivered standard stuff with all the usual bromides and the sky is falling rhetoric expected of all opposition parties – the Bloc Quebecois excepted.

Not a good start for the remaining leadership candidates. The time for sloganeering is over and the time for serious policies has begun. Of course maybe it is not tactically smart to unleash a flurry of policies during a leadership campaign. But I thought we were supposed to take the candidates seriously?

The Guest Host


s.b. said...

I agree completely. The sites need to be updated daily, be complete by now and have relevent platforms/commentary from the Candidates. It has been rather disappointing and well I don't thinking any of them have said much about policy.

Enough Platitudes more concrete ideas (or any) with explainations as to how they will be implemented, more current commentary on issues.

Most people have said what they have to say about the candidates backgrounds. We need to get on to issues.

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