So, here were are in the dog days of summer … the Calgary Stampede is over and done, the prime minister made a last minute, short, tightly controlled appearance , but Andrew Scheer seemed to have had more fun, and politicians are, mostly, home, doing some important constituency work, reconnecting with local voters and local issues (which are, sometimes, national issues, too) and, perhaps even more importantly, getting some rest ~ recharging their political (and emotional) batteries. Ditto, albeit less deserved, for the commentariat, the chattering classes and media pundits.
In past years we would regard the rest of 2017, all of 2018 and most of 2019, until, say, mid September of 2019 ~ 36 or so days before October 21st, as preparation time for political parties: time to prepare their election platforms, select candidates and raise money for the election campaign. But now, as Susan Delacourt has explained in an article in the Toronto Star, “The official 37-day election campaign can be compared to movies these days — filled with special effects and chase scenes, which only hint at the characters and backstory … [while] … The permanent campaign, in which the government and all parties are constantly on an election footing, is where the political types have gone to create the long-form tale.” For a whole host of reasons including money and social media we ~ all political parties and we voters ~ have been campaigning for the 2019 general election since October 20th 2015.
But we are nearing the mid-point of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first, and, it is to be devoutly hope, last mandate from the people of Canada. The Conservative Party has been campaigning but it is always harder for the opposition ~ the government controls the agenda and the opposition is always in danger of falling into a trap: of opposing, only, when it should be opposing AND proposing.
Right now, in the dog days of summer, is a good time to be hammering out some useful proposals ~ especially in areas when the government is, pretty clearly, foundering: in dealing with the many and hideously complex problems facing many First Nations, for example.
There are, it seems to me, three sorts of policies: simple, complex and difficult.
The simple policies are not simple because they are easy but, rather, are simple because most Conservatives can agree on the basics ~ even if there are many devils buried in the details. The simple policies include: fiscal policies, foreign policies and defence policies.
The last group, the difficult policies, Are not, in and of themselves, harder to solve than the simple ones, but they are harder for Conservatives because the party’s base is divided. Some of the difficult polices include those related to: First Nations, climate change and “hot button’ social policy issues like abortion rights, same sex marriage and adoption and religious toleration.
The largest group are the complex policies which include, especially: free(er) trade, the scope and size of government, immigration and inter-governmental (federal-provincial) relations. Conservatives are divided, as is the whole country on these issues ~ each might be a “vote getter,” or, equally, in another region, a “vote loser.”
I will address some of each group of policies in the coming weeks and months.