Failure to have a voice further marginalizes the party
By Bruce A Stewart
In every province and territory, the number one concern of the citizenry of Canada is the same.
The economy: how’s it doing, how’s it likely to do, why am I so nervous about it?
You can agree or disagree with the Harper Conservatives; you can agree or disagree with the Mulcair New Democrats. Both, however, talk the economy every day.
They are not just doing it in Question Period or in debates on Parliament Hill.
Across the country, there are local meetings, organized by MPs or the local riding association. Speakers are brought in. Documentaries are shown.
Both are engaged in a full-court press to ensure that number one concern is answered in a way that leads to their party’s success in 2015.
But there’s a party missing in action: the Liberal Party of Canada.
Their days are spent in faux outrage over one tid-bit or another.
But are they offering up economic policy ideas? Are they responding to the citizenry’s calls?
Not a bit. Apparently (as the billboards on bus shelters and above the streets of Toronto showed) “We’re listening, we’re changing, we want you back” only goes so far.
Now Liberals will tell you that this is because they’re getting ready to start their leadership race. Bob Rae may be stepping down as Interim Leader to run for the job permanently. Others are testing the waters. “And you get to vote, too, without even being a party member!”
This is why the Liberals lost. They were lucky the Progressive Conservatives divided into a PC rump, the Bloc Québécois and Reform. Otherwise it’s been a long march downhill.
Frankly, not many of us spend our waking hours worrying about their jockeying for position in their own internal party struggles.
We care about our jobs, we care about our communities, we care about rising prices, we care about many other things.
All economic. All fretful. James Carville was right when he put the sign up in Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign headquarters: “It’s the economy, stupid!”
Next week, for instance, my local NDP MP is hosting an evening to discuss the Canada-European Union Free Trade Agreement negotiations. What’s in it, what will it mean, how might we be affected?
I got my invitation through Facebook (not one of those Parliamentary mailings). Smart.
Two days later, a discussion on housing policy. City councillors, our provincial member and the federal member will all be there.
Last month it was long-term care of the elderly — a major financial worry — with doctors, care home staff, etc. to lead the discussion and keep it practical.
But it’s not just the NDP doing this. Conservative MPs are doing similar things in their ridings. Different assessments and prescriptions, of course, but engaging.
Bob Rae standing pretty much by himself at the microphone for the daily press scrum isn’t just a function of Muclair being the new kid on the block.
Even our Parliamentary Press Gallery has figured out that he and his party have nothing to say to us.
By 2015, it really will be a two-party race.
Bruce Stewart is a consultant, educator and philosopher with a passion for public affairs currently located in Toronto. He is well known across the Internet for his blogs on management (Getting Value from IT) and social affairs (Just a Jump to the Left, then a Step to the Right) and for his daily stream of commentary on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. You can reach him at email@example.com.