Stephane Dion is poised to unveil a central plank in the Liberal election platform — a "bold" plan to reduce poverty in Canada.
An insider close to Dion said the Liberal leader will set ``aggressive but realistic" multi-year targets for reducing poverty in general and child poverty in particular.
He will also outline the policy tools a Liberal government would use – bolstering existing income support programs and new investments in things like child care and education – to meet those targets.
According to the insider, Dion will argue that there is a moral imperative to address the issue in Canada where almost one million children and one in three single mothers live in poverty even as the federal government racks up massive annual surpluses.
The plan has been fully costed but the price tag will not be revealed until the entire platform is released during the next election campaign.
This is an issue on which the Liberals can plant the flag, distance themselves from the past regime, contrast themselves with the Conservatives and appeal to the soft "left". The long term approach speaks to the idea of a Liberal vision, which is desperately needed, as well as a fundamental statement on what kind of society we want moving forward.
Politically, it could be quite shrewd to make this issue a centerpiece. One, poverty is really an issue that doesn't register on the Conservative radar, which presents an opportunity to fill the vacuum. Two, this is an issue that the NDP continually addresses, so Dion inserting the Liberals into that conversation might appeal to some on the left, or at least make the Liberals more palatable, relative to the Chretien/Martin era. Thumbs up!