When Stéphane Dion announced last November that a Liberal government would cut poverty by 30 per cent – and child poverty by 50 per cent – within five years, his political opponents scoffed.
Where would he find the billions of dollars he needed to deliver on his commitment?
Now we know the answer – or at least a large part of the answer.
Dion's proposed carbon tax, unveiled last week, would allow him to launch the most aggressive anti-poverty program in 40 years...
Political junkie that I am, I paid close attention to the Liberal leadership race and was glued to CPAC's online coverage of the party's 2006 convention.
I liked Dion's platform, which saw Canada redefining prosperity from that measured solely by the GDP to that guided by the three pillars of environment, economy, and social justice. I hoped Dion would win.
When Dion did win, I felt buoyant. Then he quickly came up against a number of barriers:
- Liberals continued to be divided, with some members working against the new leader's efforts to unite the party.
- HarperCritical bullies were unleashed.
- Canada's 'natural ruling party' was now the Official Opposition. And it didn't know how to oppose.
- The party was cash-strapped and bereft of a new vision. It wasn't anywhere near ready to run another election campaign and had it done so, there was the real risk of the Conservatives forming a majority government.
- Because the Liberals couldn't bring down the government due to #4, they had to support (or abstain from voting for) legislation they would not have supported otherwise. They therefore looked - and were - weak and ineffectual.
- Dion's spoken English was abysmal.
Now Dion and his three-pillars leadership platform are back (and his English has improved).
So what is a poor (literally) voter to do?
First, continue monitoring the goings-on of all federal parties and politicos.
Second, watch Dion's green plan evolve over the summer.
Third, talk to friends about the next federal election.
I started on the third recommendation today. And you know what? Two people who voted Green in the last election said they would, based on the green shift plan, vote Liberal next time - and one of them has never voted Liberal before. (As for me, I'm suspending judgement until I hear the Liberals' plan for communities - see my June 8th and 18th posts.)
"The Liberal leader promised seven months ago to 'embark on a war on poverty never seen before in Canada's history'," wrote Goar.
"People thought he was exaggerating. It turns out that he meant it."
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