Tuesday, October 16, 2012
You Can't Open the Door If You Won't Pick Up the Key
The keys to a Liberal comeback are at their feet. What remains doubtful is that they'll ever pick them up.
Canada is facing a few enormous challenges. Let's call them, in the political context, "issues."
Political parties either take up issues or treat them as non-issues. It's a matter of priority and political will and, sometimes, it's a matter of political courage and vision.
There are several "red flag" issues that are ready-made for a Liberal champion and could put the party back on the path to power if only it stops treating them as non-issues. Among them are dismantling Canada's corporatist media cartel; the multi-dimensional environmental challenge; and the growing threat posed by inequality. 1, 2, 3.
As written so often in the past, the corporatist media cartel is a direct threat to Canadian democracy. Instead of having access to the broadest range of opinion, the cornerstone of an informed electorate, we have allowed the evolution of a Wal-Mart media. The cartel, as these blocs do, has amassed unhealthy political influence and, in the process, transformed Canada's media from watchdog of government to government's lap dog. That must be broken up. We need a government that will dismantle the cartel and reverse concentration of ownership and media cross-ownership.
On the environmental issue, we need a Canadian government that will put the interests and well-being of the Canadian people, including the very young and future generations, first. That means placing the public interest well ahead of corporate interests and the interests of foreign countries. We have tried the "balancing" approach for decades and that inevitably results in indifference to the public interest. Government is supposed to serve all the people, not just the few people who inhabit corporate boardrooms.
On the inequality issue, we need a Canadian government with the courage to act independently of the United States in rehabilitating Canada's middle class. While inequality is not as bad in Canada as in America, if we continue to accept lockstep measures to match the US, it will worsen and turn as corrosive as it has south of the border.
We need to recognize that only a limited portion of inequality results from natural market forces. We need to accept that the greatest part is the result of government policy. Our governments legislate inequality in a variety of ways. See Stiglitz, "The Price of Inequality."
This century is already turning difficult and it's bound to become more challenging, more dangerous. For Canada to meet these challenges, we need our own New Deal to restore the real "beating heart" of our economy and our society, our middle class. Bitumen won't solve our problems. The only thing that can work is to rebuild the broadest, most robust and cohesive middle class possible... even if the Americans won't.
There was another Trudeau, this was many years ago. He captivated a nation with his vision of a "just society" and he connected us to our country in a way we had not previously experienced. What I wouldn't give to have that guy back.