I notice a lot of people attaching expectations to the Liberals "Thinkers Conference". I'm attending the conference, but perhaps my "expectations" are somewhat more pedestrian than others.
I see this conference as nothing more than part of a larger process. If Can150 acts as a springboard for further policy development, then I will consider it a success. To criticize a political party for engaging in an issue orientated discussion seems unfair, particularly when one considers previous "demands" if you will. This is a healthy process, that can only enrich the party, the extent a judgement for another day. I heard a comment yesterday from a journalist I do respect, wherein he basically said something is wrong when a party needs to seek outside help to find ideas. Bullocks. I'd be more concerned if a bunch of MP's locked themselves in a room and formulated policy, WITHOUT canvassing as much outside, EXPERT opinion as possible. Seems to me, politicians constantly rely on expert opinion when addressing any issue, and I'd use our Parliamentary committee work as the perfect example.
I don't expect to draw anything conclusive from this conference, nor am I looking for some meaningful crescendo moment at the close. If people are entering with this mindset, then they will be disappointed, but in my mind they were never paying attention. If anything, I see a "food for thought" flavor, and I would expect some manifestation when the Liberals do release a full platform. I just want a productive, in depth discussion around various primary issues, that ultimately outline a broad direction. The Liberals won't suddenly find an identity in Montreal, but we will see substantive investigation that can only lead to sounder policy for the future.
I've asked the questions myself, surrounding what the Liberals stand for. That said, I don't see Montreal as providing the ultimate answer, merely a positive development that hopefully leads to compelling narratives. As a policy wonk, I look forward to listening to the discussions. This isn't a forum for knee jerk cynicism, it's a healthy exercise that will prove itself to be productive in the long run. I've found in my own life, "thinking" is never a negative undertaking.