This was a great week for the Liberal Party, perhaps one day it can be viewed as a "watershed" moment. In fact, it's hard to recall a week that has generated as much positive energy, healthy debate, serious consideration, and it's no coincidence that underneath it all is a certain boldness, the forever elusive pre-requisite which is finally coming to the fore.
Almost shocking to read a National Post piece suggest that Stephen Harper listen to Bob Rae on tax reforms. The one off more symbolic of a speech which was serious and generally well received, articulating points of distinction, planting a flag or two, throwing some elbows for political space. Just one speech, but one that afforded Rae and the Liberals some credible ink on the economic file. There are two key battles going on here, one is to undercut the Conservatives, the other to outflank the NDP and look the true alternative on economic matters. Rae had a nice balance to his speech, pro business but also addressing resource based distortions on things like the dollar, as well as the shrinking middle class. I would categorize that speech as "in the pocket" of the Canadian mainstream, again "balance" will be a core argument to reconcile competing interests which the two other parties tend to embrace. I see Rae's speech as an opening salvo, received in such a way it allows for further serious considerations and fleshing out.
The speech, as well as a successful town hall, provided a nice backdrop to the big development this week, the Liberal White Paper which has stirred up much debate. Immediately dubbed the most reformist political document in Canadian history, potential hyperbole aside, the designations are a testament to just how sweeping in scope the proposals. Again, we see a boldness in these proposals, perhaps some risk, but also potential for serious rewards. For a party desperate to stay in the conversation, this is the right document at the right time, guaranteeing our looming convention will have an intrigue that process arguments rarely achieve. I said earlier we need a sense of "where the action is" to re-energize beyond internal machinations, this document delivers, the debate will be pointed, spirited, emotional, something is at stake, something to fight for, something to rally behind. Pro, con, irrelevant in a certain regard, job one is to get people talking, so from a political perspective I'm very encouraged.
As regular readers know, I haven't exactly been Mr. Sunshine on the Liberal front recently, so see my newfound optimism within that lens. My political antenna feels something stirring here, substantive debate over ideas with profound implications. I stopped giving to the VF for a couple months, because I took a "show me" posture, rather than being taken for granted, my money directly tied to delivery. I signed back up a couple weeks ago, because I heard rumblings of what might be coming, real change rather than platitudes and back room machinations. This week has confirmed that new found faith, this is a party that finally looks like it wants to get somewhere, that has the potential to be a true representative democracy, accountable and more egalitarian in nature, less bloat, more direct lines, more "street" resonance. The Liberal Party of Canada may have just turned a corner this week, let's hope so...