I would imagine Gerard Kennedy is feeling some heat today for his very candid, not to mention refreshing, comments:
For months, Liberals have recoiled at any talk of raising the GST. But a senior Liberal MP says the idea needs to be on the table as the party crafts its long-term plan to balance the country's books.
Toronto MP Gerard Kennedy, the party's infrastructure critic, says he's speaking for himself - the Liberal leadership want nothing to do with his remarks.
"I think we do need to talk about it," Mr. Kennedy said yesterday in an interview with The Globe and Mail.
"I do think we need to talk about a fiscal plan. That debate is internal to the Liberal Party now and I'm not pronouncing on it."
"I wasn't afraid to raise it," he said. "I think we're very prepared to put things on the table. I'm not the economic lead on the tax discussion. I'm not unilaterally trying to launch that into the public. I do think we need to have the debate."
He said tax increases shouldn't happen now while the economy is struggling, but should be considered as part of a longer-term deficit plan.
Policy wise, Kennedy is spot on. I do see a way that the Liberals can propose a "five year plan" that CONSIDERS tax measure in the final year or two. This type of proposition allows the government to truly see where we are, once economic recovery is well under way, without harming said recovery. The Liberals can focus on other measures to eliminate debt, and no one should underestimate job creation, but when other avenues are exhausted, THEN it's time for sober calculation.
The trouble with this type of plan, it still remains an easy target for a Conservative government, seemingly bent on denying simple realities, instead focusing on politically palatable arguments. With that in mind, it's easy to see why the Liberals might be better off playing the same game, keeping their heads down and putting off the "adult conversation".
However, in so doing, the Liberal position doesn't provide a great deal of differentiation. Focusing on jobs instead of deficit reduction, well that's a strange argument, that has the potential to fall flat. I'm sure the Conservatives will highlight job creation to, there are plenty of levers available in the budget to make that argument, rendering our thrust a "saw off" of sorts.
Do we applaud Kennedy, or do we cringe? Depends on the particular moment from here.