14 December 2010

BC's Political Scene: The 'family values' theme

A few recurring themes have come up in the Twitter stream regarding the BC Liberal leadership race.

First is the nauseating use by leadership contenders of the 'families first' or 'focus on family' theme.

It is meaningless fluff intended to make people feel good.

Somewhere, sometime, someone (likely Frank Luntz) did a 'focus group' and determined that family could be a key into manipulating public opinion. That the family mantra leaves so many Canadians cold appears to have been overlooked by our politicos.

A more appropriate theme than family values (whatever the hell those are) would be community, specifically returning power and autonomy to local governments.

Communities are, after all, where families live. If communities were not so strapped for funding, or limited in terms of areas of responsibility and means to raise funding, then fewer families would be struggling.

The biggest problem facing communities is that of autonomy or the reluctance of upper tier governments to return power to them, the result of which has been communities with their hearts wrung out. Senior governments dictate one-size-fits-all policies for problems which they, and not locals, identify. Then they dribble money attached to those policies to a few lucky municipalities.

This typifies the funding problem. Money is attached to top-tier policy while the needs of communities, all unique, rise up from the bottom where families live.

So I say to Liberal (and future NDP) leadership candidates: Enough with 'families first' or 'focus on family' talk. Let's talk communities.

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