Crawl Across the Ocean

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Blah

The Wonderdog catches my mood (as it relates to politics) at the moment,
"Only one question now remains. Should I bang my head against the wall until my skull cracks and my brain, sensing its only chance to escape the vile reality of Canada in the third millenium, leaks out onto the floor? Or should I go out into the street, find some worthless shill, knock him to the ground, and then kick him until he stops moving?

Which is a more appropriate response to the sorry state of our dominion?"


My mood wasn't helped by the leak (hey, that wasn't supposed to be released until after the election!) of the Liberal Platform.

I applaud the intentions of the platform writers who, I assume, tried to reach out to young Canadians by making the platform into a game. Alas, young Canadians are likely to prefer Grand Theft Auto to the Liberal game of 'Where's Policy?', the written equivalent of 'Where's Waldo'. As I understand it, from my abortive attempt to read the platform as a statement of policy intentions, the point of the game is to uncover concrete plans for what the Liberals would do if elected, by sifting through mountains of empty rhetoric, feel-good phrases, rehashes of previous announcements and self-congratulory historical cherry-picking.

Here's a sample, see if you can spot the policy proposal,
"The New Deal [for cities and communities] is about more than roads, water treatment plants, and modern transit systems. It is also about developing a vision that gives Canada's municipalities a seat at the national table as partners in our country's economic, cultural and social development. It is about ensuring a sustainable quality of life for all Canadians.

The New Deal is also a key component of the Liberal strategy to keep pace with the leaders in the global economy - to ensure that Canada is a winner in the worldwide competition for talent and investment. Statistically, economic performance is usually judged on a nation-to-nation basis. But today, competition is being waged increasingly among major metropolitan centres.

In a world in which talent, capital and ideas are globally mobile, it's Toronto and Montreal vs. Shanghai and Bangalore, Calgary vs. Houston, and Vancouver vs. San Francisco. In fact, virtually every program of every level of government is manifested in a community - programs that provide shelter to the disadvantaged; that support culture; that help the integration of new immigrants; that make our streets safer. The federal government contributes very significantly in these and other areas. To be most effective there must be close co-ordination among the federal, provincial, and municipal governments. So the New Deal is also about making this happen - about replicating the kind of practical co-operation illustrated by tripartite agreements pioneered in Vancouver and Winnipeg.

A Liberal government will build on its substantial set of existing financial and program commitments to ensure that the New Deal becomes a central component of our strategy to secure Canada's success.

To support environmentally sustainable infrastructure, the Liberal government committed to provide $5 billion to municipalities over five years. By 2009-10, this strategic investment in our cities and communities will be $2 billion, equivalent to half of the 10 cents per litre of the federal excise tax on gasoline. To date, agreements in respect of "gas tax" sharing and guidelines regarding eligible use of the funds have been reached with 12 provinces and territories. This long-term
commitment was recently bolstered by one-time spending of $800 million over two years to fund public transit systems in Canadian cities. The gas tax transfer is complemented by the full rebate of the Goods and Services Tax which will deliver more than $7 billion over 10 years to municipalities of all sizes."


Ha ha, I tricked you, there was no proposal of any policy in that passage. Or maybe there was. I don't know. This game is hard!

The Liberal platform weighs 85 pages. Go on, try to read it - I dare you.

7 Comments:

  • Declan, I'm having a curious feeling of deja vu...

    Anyway, is it me or is Martin stealing ideas from Jane Jacobs? Maybe he can change the cosntitution to help out with that equal partnership thing while he's erasing the NWC

    By Blogger Mike, at 10:43 AM  

  • Yeah blogger told me it couln't publish the first time I tried to post, so I posted again, and ended up with two copies of the same post, should be OK now.

    Good point. I picked that passage out in part because of the clear Jacobs reference. Not sure whether he picked it up directly, or if the idea that cities have economies, not countries, has just become sort of generally accepted.

    The problem is that it's once thing to write something in a (85 page) platform, but another to translate it into useful action. The fact that the 'cities' agenda quickly became a 'cities and communities agenda' shows how political pressure comes to bear, although I think they are mostlyon the right track with regard to cities.

    Of course the whole Toronto Port Authority debacle shows a darker side to the Liberals and cities (and Jane Jacobs).

    As for the constitution, I can't see it changing any time soon.

    By Blogger Declan, at 10:55 AM  

  • Well, that is an interesting development. And now that I read it, I remember some of this happeneing when I lived in TO in the 90's.

    Yes, indeed, that is wild.

    BTW and OT: I just finished "the Efficient Society" by Joseph Heath. Thanks for the tip, that was a fantastic book. I read it after reading "Freakononics" and you are fast making me a fan of economics. I'm still a lefty, but now I understand Paul Sumemrville when he talks and can talk the talk with the Cons.

    :)

    By Blogger Mike, at 12:34 PM  

  • Good to hear Mike, economics is actually pretty interesting (in my opinion), especially once you get away from the ideologues who think all economics amounts to is markets and corporations good / government bad.

    ---

    Also, I was rereading my comment above that, "Of course the whole Toronto Port Authority debacle shows a darker side to the Liberals and cities (and Jane Jacobs)." and realized that I wasn't very clear.

    All I meant was that the Liberal actions with respect to the waterfront in Toronto (and the port authority) have been harmful to the city and also flown in the face of everything Jacobs has written (or worked for) - not that the incident revealed a darker side of Jacobs herself.

    By Blogger Declan, at 2:32 PM  

  • The New Deal [for cities and communities] is about more than roads, water treatment plants, and modern transit systems. It is also about developing a vision that gives Canada's municipalities a seat at the national table as partners in our country's economic, cultural and social development. It is about ensuring a sustainable quality of life for all Canadians.

    You know what this reminds me of? - it reminds me of one of Saturday Night Live's old fake ads, for a product called "That's Not Yogurt". The dialogue went something like:

    "Mmm...this is great yogurt!"

    "Oh, that's not yogurt."

    "Um...then what is it?"

    "It's not yogurt."

    Aside: have the Conservatives released their platform yet? Not that it's all that relevant to me, as I've uttered the words "well, if I was ever considering voting Conservative before, I'm not anymore" approximately ten times in the last two years - but are we going to get anything more than this (which isn't a pdf document, regardless of what the URL says) before the advance polls close?

    By Blogger Moebius Stripper, at 8:17 PM  

  • I heard a rumour the platform was supposed to be released tomorrow (Friday), but I guess we'll see.

    talk about a hidden agenda!

    By Blogger Declan, at 10:58 PM  

  • But on the other hand, there's nothing in their platform that you disagree with, now, is there?

    By Blogger Moebius Stripper, at 5:12 AM  

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