Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Expectations For Can150 "Thinkers Conference"

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.


Jerry Prager said...

I think the most inevitable outcome, is that by the next election, there will one leader on display who goes out of his way to listen to Canadians, and one who builds walls and fences to keep people from interrupting him with messy things like democracy. A best practices conference can only do good.

Gayle said...

I think it's a good idea, but I'm really puzzled by the lack of any mechanism within the conference for liberals to get together, discuss ideas and come to some resolutions.

I assume MPs are asked to stay in their ridings so they can generate discussion with people there, but if that is the case they should make that clear. If this is a reach out to the grassroots, it sure does not feel like it.

That said, if I did not already have a different conference to attend, I would sign up for the on line feed.

Steve V said...

MP's were told to stay home, so they could organize their local, grassroots participation. I agree, that should have been made more clear.


One of the main things that scare me about this gov't, their lack of curiousity. On a host of issues, Harper and his cronies just plow ahead with some ideological idea, without consulting or listening. It's a dangerous mentality.

ottlib said...

Judging by the amount of energy Conservatives have been spending slagging this conference, both in the media and in the blogsphere, I would say they are kind of frightened by the possibilities this conference can have.

It is certainly a contrast from the "it's my way or the highway, I am always right" kind of mentality we see from the current government.

As for the media in general, controversy sells. That imperative will always push such concepts as intellectual honesty off the stove let alone on to the back burner.

Enjoy the conference!

Steve V said...


I was just going to comment on that fact. Considering this conference is a big nothing, funny how much energy the detractors are spending to tell us so. Anyways, thinking has never been a Con supporter strong suit, parroting and blind allegiance is their forte.

Steve V said...

A pretty revealing bit from Rona Barrett's piece today in the G and M:

"However, one of the officials said some people declined invitations to participate, saying “with this climate in Ottawa, with this government it’s a political risk I don’t want to take.”

“I won’t add anything to that. I think it speaks for itself,” the official added."

That's just plain sad.

Anyong said...

The Liberals are in such a state of the Government in Waiting that it is mute. It does not produce new ideas or discuss what the cons are doing with any amount of guts. It thinks it will take over by osmoses. The Libs are only concerned with that and that alone.

Gayle said...

Wow. How insightful.

Someone should tell these people CPC talking points are not particularly persuasive.

RuralSandi said...

LOL - CPC new ideas? They recycle over and over again, hence proroguing.

CPC conferences - religion, guns, babies, hot dang and the finalie - attack Liberals.

There are times I wonder if Taber makes up that she spoke to a senior secret source - who can prove it one way or the other?

It's a thinker's conference, not a partisan party conference.

And, hey, damn those awful eggheads - you kow the ones who make medical breakthroughs, make discoveries and actually know what they're talking about. Damn that.