Day 2, epilogue -

Day 2, epilogue


As I was leaving the conference today, Michael Ignatieff was participating in a quick interview with the online audience and, asked for his impressions of the event so far, he ventured an interesting attempt to split the difference between the ideas of big and small government. The segment is not yet online—it will hopefully appear here at some point—but Susan Delacourt has the gist.

“I think the really interesting thing that’s coming out of the conference for me—and I’m still still trying to formulate it—is a different vision of government, that is not command and control,” Ignatieff said in an online interview on Saturday afternoon. “We can’t do it from Ottawa. And an activist government doesn’t mean another big, high-ticket federal program. What it means is getting a network of deciders together to face common problems.”

This was, by his own admission, not yet a fully formed idea. But he is due to deliver remarks to close the conference tomorrow afternoon. And that speech may prove to be an interesting one.


Day 2, epilogue

  1. That idea is doomed! The hardest problems of government involve resolving the conflicting decisions made made by different levels of gov’t. Inviting more stakeholders to the table won’t solve anything. The ‘big idea’ is inclusiveness in decision-making, and improving the knowledge base for decisions doesn’t have to mean parcelling power. It’s important to note that the most excluded group are the poor. The least transparent are the rich.

  2. Aaron, when it comes to the Liberals, you're the eternal optimist.

    • …"We can't do it from Ottawa. And an activist government doesn't mean another big, high-ticket federal program. ""
      —M Ignatieff

      I'll only believe him if he formally announces that he has killed babycare.

      (just to make clear, I'm talking about federal daycare, not abortion)

      • If you kill federal day care, what happens to poor working mothers who can't afford private day care?

        • Nothing…the federal governent doesn't, and never will, provide daycare, as it is entirely a provincial jurisdiction.

          In any case, the Liberals have never, though it is mythically accepted, even proposed to provide a properly funded national daycare program. Their previous proposal of $1B/yr is les then one tenth of what would be needed to provide a program equivalent to that in Quebec (which costs $2.5B/yr).

          You can do the math.

          • Thanks for the clarification. Of course, there are some people who want to kill provincial day care too, but that's a different topic.

  3. Barf… I am so tired of pie-in-the-sky comments like Iggy's… people just want a competent government that makes decisions. So stop with the wishy-washy stuff and just get an effective opposition up and running already. Things like "we can't do it from Ottawa" baloney are so tired and old… what does "it" mean. What are your plans? Enough already with this hokey crap… just tell us what you stand for or let someone else become leader.

    • Exactly right.

      • Amen to that!

        • Third. For a politician who just stepped out of a conference featuring various specialists expounding on "common problems" in their area of expertise, it's exactly earth-shattering to say something like: "What it means is getting a network of deciders together to face common problems."

          • exactly right CR. and I think it doesn't take much to show that the once one has settled on some high level principles of ideas that they have actually started the work of answering the question: "How are we going to make these principles concrete?".

            The problem, I don't think, is high level thinking per se, but it is twofold with Iggy: 1) he rarely hears a high level thought that he does not like (constrained by his general – and expansive worldview); and 2), because he never lands, he never beings the hard work of translating those revolving big ideas into the architecture of what programs, policies, fiscal and monetary measures he wants to pursue. When the game is offering an alternative to the status quo this approach is nothing short of a disaster.

          • It seems never ending with Iggy though, he is ALWAYS looking for advice, it's like he is looking for this big bright light bulb that is going to inspire all Canadians and it just hasn't showed up yet. The poor guy just doesn't know if he is coming or going.

          • I think it is actually helpful to in driving to a more precise understanding of Iggy to parse him from Paul Martin. Martin was also said to be constantly attempting to ensure he left no stone unturned for possible advice on whatever issue had cropped up. It led to his characterization as Mr Dithers.

            I think Iggy, in turn, and having recently been able to observe this is in person, never seems to meet an idea he does not like. Rather than the bright light bulb being elusive, I think he lacks an ability to distinguish the bright bulbs from all the rest of the distracting lights.

  4. "Deciders?"

    Interesting choice of word. I could understand a network of consultants or advisers to advise the government, but a network of deciders? How does that work?

    The government is ultimately the "decider" on the federal stage, and held accountable for its decisions.

    Is Ignatieff suggesting he would relieve the federal government of certain decision-making abilities, and delegate this to an unelected network of deciders, outside the government?

    I'm not dismissing Ignatieff's idea, because perhaps I've misunderstood. But more elaboration would be needed. Hopefully he will elaborate tomorrow.

    • He won't. Expect more diatribes and long wind.

    • I am the decider.

    • you misunderestimate him?

  5. It's entirely understandable why so many critics seem to think this get-together is bound to fail. Nothing could hope to match the success of Harper's conference of non-partisan leaders to talk about this country's future, and invite everyone in the country to 'participate online' and 'pitch their bold ideas'. It's a mystery why Ignatieff would even try to top that one.

    • Depends what you consider the goal to be. If the goal is simply to hold a dialogue, then it's difficult for such a goal to fail.

      However, if the goal is that the Liberals will consider many of these ideas to formulate their policies, then yes, there is skepticism: Raising taxes, re-introducing the carbon tax idea, broaching the subject of private health care, etc etc… It's unlikely the Liberals will seriously consider any of this.

      The uncomfortable silence that Wherry mentioned after someone raised the issue of private health care is an example that fuels this skepticism. Could you imagine the Liberals seriously musing about private, or two-tier, health care? I certainly can't.

      • 'Could you imagine the Liberals seriously musing about private, or two-tier, health care? I certainly can't. '

        Only because that would be an admission that the Liberals demonizing the Reform/Alliance and Alberta over healthcare reform, was wrong.
        Which it was.

  6. See lots of doom and gloom, no answers….except green taxes.

    I can't see Liberals having an adult conversation on healthcare, they would lose too many Dipper supporters, and the Raging Grannies and Unions.

  7. It's known as 'New Social Architecture', and it's not exactly an original idea.

    • Is John Myles there?

  8. Hmmm…is he talking about corporatism?

  9. So, he thinks we should have a federation where we avoid over-regulation? And how does that address the demographic trends that are increasing health care costs and lowering labour force participation?

  10. The idea of a collection of "deciders" seems odd to me, but the concept of a network of people who can provide input and/or guidance would be of big help to a leader whose responsiblity is to make tough decisions.

    This seems more appealing to me than the current Conservative model, in which Harper and the PMO decide everything, and everybody else in the Conservative party serves as robots who applaud the Leader and recite talking points on command.

    • Your second paragraph is blind partisanship. The Harper government has been holding public consultations since arriving in office in 2006. Which accounts for the reason this govt is the longest running in Cdn history.

      And it was from ''a network of people who can provide input and/or guidance'' that produced the stimulus budget and recovery budget, EI changes, Home Reno program, and months of yet on-going pension reform.

      The LPC refused to offer up ANY ideas or ammendments to both budgets, incase you didn't notice.

      • "Your second paragraph is blind partisanship. The Harper government has been holding public consultations since arriving in office in 2006."

        -This sentence needs supporting evidence. Preferably if it includes evidence that said consultations resulted in changes to gov't policy.

        "Which accounts for the reason this govt is the longest running in Cdn history."

        -This sentence is incomplete, and therefore incorrect.

      • If the Liberals had offered ideas or amendments to a Conservative budget, the Conservatives would have trumpeted that the opposition was supporting the government.

        Besides, isn't the Conservative government supposed to be able to run the country without help?

        I have to agree with Honest Iago: I see no evidence that the Conservatives have actually changed government policy after consulting with the public. (Actually, I see no evidence that the Conservatives actually have government policy.)