Den Tandt: What would a truly liberal, Liberal party look like?
By Michael Den Tandt, Postmedia News April 10, 2012 5:03 PM
What could a new Canadian Liberalism, breaking with much of the recent past but faithful to the party's intellectual roots, look like?
It may seem silly or quixotic even to discuss such a thing, given the Liberal Party of Canada's repeatedly demonstrated (elections 2006, 2008, 2011) visceral horror at anything that smacks of a policy reboot. But since our august MPs are on a two-week spring break, we have time. Let's blue-sky.
First, the fundamentals: Minding the store. Budget 2012 made it apparent, if it hadn't been previously, that today's Conservatives are nothing like the Reformers of Stephen Harper's wild youth. Reform was hell-bent on "not spending beyond our means." And it was the Liberal party's shameless theft of that aspect of Reform's platform that created the Jean-Chretien-Paul-Martin juggernaut in the 1990s.
Today's Tories, by comparison, with their milquetoast, plodding return to balanced budgets in 2016, are inveterate free spenders, nothing like the Martinites — as Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has been at pains to point out. So why would the Liberals not decisively seize the fiscal-conservative agenda? Talking it up isn't good enough: That's too easy. To be credible they'd need to propose a balanced-budget law, making it illegal for federal governments to run deficits, ever.
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