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Searching for the Liberal Party. Day 1.

AARON WHERRY reports from Canada 150 in Montreal: dystopian visions, Twitter love and Stephane Dion


 

Canada 150Greetings from Montreal, where, for the next three days, we’ll be hanging around the Liberal party’s Canada 150 conference. Herein a running diary of the proceedings.

9:36am. First things first, a requisite description of the surroundings. The conference centre at the Hyatt Regency doesn’t look anything like a conference centre. It looks like a terribly hip Swedish bar. The light fixtures are these silver blobby things hanging from the ceiling and the walls at either end of the room are emitting red light. The foyer is all white light and includes an actual bar. I believe the Cardigans are playing a set here tomorrow afternoon.

9:57am. Paul Martin has arrived. Let the party renewal commence.

10:00am. Jean Chretien arrives and proceeds with a prodigious display of hand-shaking.

10:05am. And we’re off. Which is to say we’ve started, with some opening remarks from Dominique Anglade, who is apparently fluent in five languages and has degrees in industrial engineering and business.

10:19am. Michael Ignatieff went without a tie this morning. Obviously really ready to let loose. All bets are now off on what might happen this weekend. He may remove his jacket. He may even roll up his sleeves. Buckle. Up.

10:26am. He opens with the idea of turning thought into action—arguably the central, if self-imposed, theme of his political career to date. He’s gone without a teleprompter and seems to be paying only passing attention to his notes and is, not surprisingly, sounding much happier. The teleprompter is the enemy of eloquence. When I convene my own thinkers conference next weekend, that will be topic number one.

10:34am. We’ve heard this before, but here is Michael Ignatieff’s Canada: educated, curious, innovative and international. Now to fill the sizeable blanks in between those adjectives.

10:36am. Quoting Lester B. Pearson at Kingston in 1960: “This is no dialogue of the decided.” Quoting Jean Chretien at Aylmer in 1991: “If we just give it another couple years, the Conservatives will be in tatters and we’ll waltz to victory.”

10:53am. The prepared text for Mr. Ignatieff’s opening remarks is here. (Though his speechwriter says much of what he said wasn’t on the page). You can also apparently follow along with the all of the proceedings here.

11:08am. General opening remarks now on foreign, social and economic policy. Odd experience listening to people speak at length about complicated matters without fear of interruption or scorn.

11:44am. The light in the room switches to purple and Rick Miner of Seneca College arrives to tell us about the future of the Canadian labour force. His central message seems to be that we’re doomed. And he has scary-looking bar and line graphs to demonstrate as much. Graphs are exceedingly difficult to argue with.

11:53am. In the future we’ll not be able to take summers off. And we’ll all have to have something more than a high school degree. This is getting dystopian.

11:58am. To avoid an absolutely dire state of affairs—”millions of people without jobs, millions of jobs without people”—we need a national strategy involving all levels of government. That’s apparently the good news. And, on that note, lunch is served. Let us repress our panic and fear with sandwiches.

1:07pm. Lunch was rudely interrupted by a press conference. A scribe apparently mindful of space in tomorrow morning’s paper asked Mr. Ignatieff to explain, in a sentence, what is at stake here. His sentence: “What’s at stake is whether the political system of our country can actually address the real problems the country faces.”

1:16pm. Keynote address from journalist and banker Sheryl WuDunn, wife of New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. The cause of our time, she says, is worldwide gender equality.

1:30pm. In addition to Ignatieff, Martin and Chretien, Stephane Dion, Bill Graham and John Turner are in the room. We are one Herb Gray short of a complete set.

1:54pm. And now a celebration of the Internet and the Twitter and all the ways in which people across the country are following and participating in these proceedings. Yes, yes, modern communication is fascinating. We will have truly progressed as a society when we stop being impressed by our ability to speak to one another without necessarily being in the same room. The first phone call was completed more than 130 years ago. Let’s try to maybe get over it.

2:09pm. A discussion now of learning and education. The high school dropout rate among the wealthiest is apparently between six and 11%. Among the poorest it’s between 50 and 60%. That seems staggering.

2:12pm. Stephane Dion is sitting in the row in front of the media table. Two photographers have set up at the end of the row, perhaps four feet from him, and are snapping away shots of him as he watches and listens to the discussion on stage and pretends not to notice. Politics is a bizarre existence.

2:16pm. Former Liberal cabinet minister Lloyd Axworthy, now in charge of the University of Winnipeg, with the best—well, only—joke I’ve ever heard about university presidents. “We’re like caretakers at a cemetery. There are lots of people under us, but they don’t listen.”

2:37pm. Stepped out for a moment and return to a question about provincial jurisdiction, educational reform and the constitution. It is somewhat remarkable that anyone would want to govern this country.

3:01pm. The answer to what is needed to put together a national education policy is apparently this: political will. That’s probably the answer to a lot of questions here. Actually, maybe all of them.

3:09pm. Silly questions. What was the last major domestic policy initiative or innovation involving a Canadian prime minister? More specifically, what was the last major policy initiative that was actually implemented (ie. the Kelowna Accord and the Liberal child care plan don’t count)?

3:20pm. To put this weekend in perspective it is probably a prerequisite that you read Andrew Potter’s essay for the Literary Review of Canada. A short break now and then an hour and a half on innovation. And then a cocktail reception with the Liberal leader.

3:40pm. I’ve just become embroiled in a discussion about adult literacy, post-secondary education, business ethics and railroad protocol. It is going to be that sort of weekend.

4:12pm. I realize again precisely how weirdly politicians speak and how relatively nice it is to listen to people who aren’t politicians. Non-politicians just talk because they have something they want to say. Politicians can’t just talk because they’ve been taught to think about what they’re supposed to say. I realize this is not at all insightful. But when you listen to politicians talk all day and spend a good deal of time trying to get politicians to talk, you sometimes forget what humans sound like.

4:31pm. This discussion now seems to hinge on an argument Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School at the University of Toronto, made that we lack a national innovation policy. It is a compelling suggestion, not least because, by his estimate, it wouldn’t involve money that isn’t already being spent.

5:00pm. An attendee proposes the creation of a Parliamentary committee on the future. Apparently Finland has one. Here is video from a recent meeting of the committee.

5:15pm. And after a few wise words for Mr. Ignatieff—measure output, not input; simplify—it is time to drink and mingle and speak in jargon about complicated matters.


 

Searching for the Liberal Party. Day 1.

  1. Yes – please keep us updated with details. Looking forward to reading….

  2. Neato!
    What did the former Successful Lib PM have to say to the former Next Successful Lib PM? Are MI's sleeves rolled up under his Jacket?
    Tell us more.

  3. "He opens with the idea of turning thought into action—arguably the central, if self-imposed, theme of his political career to date."

    Nothing so far on turning thought into communication? Or…even dialogue?

    After all, Ignatieff turned a recent bit of thought into action on his motion to include a full range of family planning options into the G8 agreements on maternal health. Without proper caucus communication, look how that one turned out.

  4. "11:08am. General remarks now on foreign, social and economic policy. Odd experience listening to people speak at length about complicated matters without fear of interruption or scorn."

    Nice.

  5. Any sign of Pollievre lurking behind a pillar tape recorder in hand? [ keep an eye out for dubious looking bairds…er beards]

    why don't they just cut to the chase and go with Chretien again. Still the best man they have; he's got one more election in him surely.

    • Sure, you can be the one to tell Aline!

      • There is indeed a higher power than mere political ambition.

    • Don`t laugh; from what we know about the Liberal Party and their only true philosophy ( do everything and anything it takes to get back in power ) It would not be surprising to see an attempt to prop up the Chret. for one more run.

      And I can almost guarantee you we will see a photo of Chretien and Justin embracing in a man-hug with Iggy in the background with that WTF look on his face.

    • The further away we get, the better he looks.

      Even Steyn misses him…

      • Don't they all?

        lol Steyn has other whipping boys these days

        .

        • Oh, sure. And the thing about Chretien is he knew when to make an exit. Did so in 1986, and again in 2003.

          But I did enjoy this little passage:
          http://www.macleans.ca/article.jsp?content=200710

          What would Chrétien have done? He'd have said, "Waal, da scam is da scam and, when you got da good scam, dat da scam. Me, I like da scam-and-eggs wid da home fries at da Auberge Grand-Mère every Sunday morning. And Aline, she always spray da pepper on it. Like Popeye say, I scam what I scam. Don' make me give you da ol' Shawiniscam handshake …" Etc., etc., until it all dribbled away into a fog of artfully constructed incoherence, and the heads of the last two journalists following the story exploded, and he won his fourth term.

          I think he'd have managed it.

  6. If the political class is concerned about the cleavage between it and citizens they might both consider the four million adult Canadians that are considered indictable criminals for smoking pot behind the privacy of their own closed doors.

  7. We've got here the "out of touch" supported by "the irrelevant" preaching to "the desperate".

    Pretty pathetic really.

    • Curious – what would you classify yourself as? "The Sniper"?

    • "We've got here the "out of touch" supported by "the irrelevant" preaching to "the desperate".

      Pretty pathetic really. "

      This is about the Liberal conference Fred. The Ann Coulter discussion is on another thread.

    • Anything with regard to the content of what they're saying, or are you just here to label people?

      I for one think labour issues – particularly in the context of the heightened unemployment we've got in this country – deserve a little spot time.

  8. educated, curious, innovative and international. Now to fill the sizeable blanks in between those adjectives.

    Action no. 1: Walk away from or seriously renegotiate NAFTA. As the US sinks more deeply into ignorance, incuriousness, obsolescence and isolation (of its own particular brand), that deal with will be nothing but a millstone around Canada's neck.

    Since this is the Liberal Party, though, I don't think those blanks have much chance of being filled.

    • How would creating tariff barriers to American goods and services (i.e. raising the prices that Canadians pay) and disrupting the supply chains of an integrated continental economy be to Canada's benefit?

      Presuming that the United States would retaliate and raise barriers to Canadian goods and services, how would that be to our benefit?

    • Keep in mind that healthcare just passed. The ignorant and incurious were the ones who lost that battle, and I fully expect they'll continue to lose in the future.

      • Tell that to the AT&T workers when they start feeling the effects of the Obamacare plan on their jobs and benefits. AT&T just announced that Obamacare would cost them $1 billion in the first year. Catepillar has already said it will hurt them. Large companies i.e. over 50 employees are going to feel the pinch big time and they will need to take action to restore/prevent their bottom lines from deteriorating. Do you think this will create jobs in the economy in the U.S?

  9. Ah! Liberals going with the fear theme again? Surprise surprise!

    • LOL! I know, just down the street, the corner store has up a help wanted sign… LIEbrals. Dr Rick Miner. Fail.

      I don't know if the good Doctor is correct… in fact I don't know much.

    • Your comment conveniently ignores less than a year ago GM almost went out of business completely. Despite today's good news for GM, there are still fundamental issues with the manufacturing sector to deal with.

      That kind of short-sighted, reactionary thinking is exactly what true policy making is not about.

  10. Don`t laugh; from what we know about the conservative Party and their only true philosophy ( do everything and anything it takes to not lose power )

    …i'm trying not to laugh. To assert a superior moral political philosophy it may help to actually have one. We're not liberals doesn't really cut it.

    • But it`s a Liberal conference kcm and you should not even think about the CPC. Don`t worry about Pollievre or Baird. I want to hear about your hopes and dreams about the policies that will form a New liberal Party.

      • Fine. But perhaps you should keep an open mind yourself. Rather than resorting to knee jerk we all know libs have no principles rhetoric. My remarks about Pollievere and Baird and Chretien were merely attempts at humour, yours, i think not. You were saying about taking this seriously CM.

        • Ahh, well I was serious about Chretien.

    • This is a Liberal conference and has nothing to do with Harper and the PC's. Stick to the topic. Profess your undying love for Iffy and all hail the intellectuals speaking of doom and gloom at the conference. Iffy will have to take to his bed after this conference. He will be so confused and have to continue quoting Shakespeare in order to make sense of it all.

      • ah yes a man who knows how to stick to the topic alright. Sadly it's only one topic. Iffy the "other"; Iffy the effette intellectual snob whom all must despise ; Iffy just visiting; Iffy in it for himself. Do you actually have any original criticim to offer?

        • Nope…those will do just fine thank you very mich.

  11. I don`t know whether Mr. Wherry thinks this is a serious exercise or not but I do notice that almost every entry has just a little slice of sarcasm. It`s very readable but maybe not what the organizers hoped would be the reaction.

    I do know this. Something has to be done about the public perception of the Liberal Party. If the Easters and Jennings and Dosanjhs and Bennetts continue to be the face of the hysterical opposition screaming about the flu and doorknobs, then this thinkfest will be remembered as a stinkfest.

  12. Here's a winner policy for you, Iggy. Find a way to encourage families – that is, stable, functioning two-parent families, to have more children. We aren't producing enough of ourselves to sustain our labour market, or social programs; and what better for stimulating an economy than a baby boom. We do NOT need more incentives for 17 year old, uneducated, never employed, unmarried girls on welfare to reproduce more dysfunctional children. We already have enough incentives for them – and our schools, criminal courts and social programs are already overburdened treating the outcomes of this. Find a "program" for that Iggy, and you'll be elected with a majority.

  13. Yup. Brison showed yesterday that he should be Liberal #1, as he seems to be the only grown-up on that side of the house. I'm actually shocked that the Dippers haven't been making big gains for the last year. You'd think that Canadians would be looking at an alternative to the "Big 2", and they haven't been playing the games the Cons and Libs have been.

  14. Should I be despondent that GM is turning itself around slowly? It's great news for them, and the manufacturing sector, and the communities they operate in. Yes, there are still many problems in the industry, but this is a clear sign that some of those problems have been mitigated. Anybody who thinks that every one of those manufacturing jobs is going to come back is delusional.

    And there is nothing short-sighted about making sure that a sinking ship doesn't go completely underwater. Ensuring it's survival is the 1st step, patching things up and making it right is step #2.

    • "Making it right" is indeed step #2. And the academic and policy making communities are attempting to provide insight as to how things can be made right in the long term. Many developing economies continue to provide cheaper and increasingly skilled labour which will continue to entice GM and other manufacturers if we cannot find ways to differentiate ourselves from them.

      As such, I don't think it's fair to simply dismiss his comment as poorly timed just because one plant announced a recall today.

  15. Amen. Look at the long game, and don't be dazzled by shiny objects….

  16. Here's hoping they revive the Party of Laurier, not the Party of Trudeau or Chretien.

    I'm not optimistic.

    • How did Laurier differ in any respect from Trudeau or Chretien? He certainly had different issues to deal with, but he invented the Liberal policy of saying one thing and doing another and then perfected it. I think both Trudeau and, especially Chretien were worthy successors.

      • We see the world as we are, not as it is – Anais nin

      • Sounds like I have a higher opinion of Laurier than you do. I may even have a higher opinion of Trudeau than you do! (and you'd be the first person to whom I've ever said that)

        I think we both have the same opinion of Chretien though.

  17. The background reminds me of a certain political rally back in the 1930's at Nuremberg! How fitting for left wing fascist!

    • Niiice. That would be the one picture you remember from the only book you ever opened, right? Not that you bothered with the words, of course, because then you would have understood how disgusting your comment is.

      • Typical Liberal come back. Attack the person's level of intelligence. Every body in the wold is an uneducated idiot if they don't tow your line of thinking. Your kind are dying and we'll be rid of you soon enough.

    • I declare this discussion topic over, and you have lost the arguement…
      (RE: Godwin's law)

    • What was it like to hear the great orator speak back in the day? Did your arm get tired? ;)

  18. That is some of the funniest commentary you've ever done. Mr Wherry, I look forward to reading much more!

    Let us repress our panic and fear with sandwiches. That was gold.

    • I agree. I don't recall ever reading him this sharp. Encore!!!!

  19. Agree with most of what you're saying. I just think the timing is quite poor, though not just because of one plant. He's talking down our economy in the middle of a rebound, and like the rest of us, really has no idea what the jobs situation in Canada's going to be even a year from now.

  20. Read back through it again. Simply dripping with sarcastic comments. Love it after all!

  21. I am looking forward to this running diary of yours, Wherry. Should be interesting. Please give us gossip as well as the serious stuff.

    • What happened to your old account?

      • I reached 100 p and decided to start again. Wanted new name/avatar, tired of the old ones.

        • You deleted it? I thought only Macleans could do that.

          • Don't remember exactly what I did but there was delete account option in Intense Debate somewhere. So I deleted jolyon and now am bergkamp (Dennis).

  22. Wow you completely glossed over Ms WuDun's powerful speech, instead preferring to write some lame sarcasm.

    The medias treatment of this excercise thusfar has revealed the real problem with our politics in this country.

    • Or, more likely, it's revealed the real problem with the Liberal Party of Toronto and Michael Ignatieff's "leadership" style.

    • Because people would have stopped reading the blog and moved on to something that is more relevant in their lives. Come on a bunch of eggheads jammed into the room tallking about theory. Give me a break. It isn't that complicated. Lower taxes, less government inference in the economy and more importantly stop with the wasteful spending that does not help Canadians with a better life. As Iffy says its all about political will. However, they can't help themselves. They think they know best and of course Iffy thinks he's the smartest guy in the room.

      • How is leaving undereducated people with no skills to fend for themselves in a rapidly changing economy going to help people have a better life. You're do nothing approach would only work if everyone in Canada was sent a winning lottery ticket. You're just going to take your chances against people, companies and forces with all the power, who don't give a rat's arse about you? Now THAT is dumb. Why don't you think people working together is a good thing. You really believe we're better of working by ourselves and fighting over the scraps? I remember when I lived in Toronto during the Harris years. Flahety sent out a taxpayer funded pamphlet bragging that harris tax cuts saved families $1200 a year — enough for a new washer and dryer (that's literally what the pamphlet said). meanwhile kids were sharing textbooks in school and community centers were doubling access fees and subway expansion was cancelled. The cons left Ontario with a $6 billion deficit — and that was in a good economy. Idiots.

        • I take your point. Harris/Eves got thrown out by the electorate but how has McGuinty improved the education system. Oh, the teachers got more money for probably delivering less. Who's fault is it that the kids are undereducated. Moms and dads are paying their taxes trusting that the education system is doing its job. Well it isn't. I agree we are unleashing a lot of illerate kids into society but if we know that how do we improve the system. Money isn't always the answer.

  23. On a few other Macleans threads the comment has been made more than once that Wherry is "snarky", "sarcastic", "lame", and "snide". I hadn't paid attention before, but they're right. He's a painful read. Predictably sneering at everything without any proposed ideas or analysis of his own (a la Potter, Wells, Coyne, or Geddes). This is pretty lousy blog.

    (And I'm a Tory!)

    • Which raises the question of why you come here. It couldn't be the dearth of tory sites that don't sneer or offer analysis or ideas of their own, could it. Anyway this presupposes Maclean's is merely a liberal site – not true.

      • I don't think Macleans is Liberal or Tory. Clearly some of the writers drift in one direction (Hello Mr. Steyn) or another. I come for the smart writing and the generally smart bloggers. My point was Geddes, Potter et al typically bring something to the table beyond clip and paste cheap shots. I hadd not paid much attention to Wherry until now, but after reading his blog for a week or two I think it is well below the standard of the other contributors. This running sneer at the Liberal conference is a case in point.

        • Some people have a sense of humour – others do not. I don't mind the sneer.
          We can learn so much about the world and ourselves through comedy.
          Would a pie to your face cheer you up? ;)

        • Fine, you don't like his blog. I suspect I'm painfully old fashioned but it seems pointlessly rude to write a comment to someone's blog that just says you don't like his writing.

          Also, aren't you just being critical without really adding any substantive debate? And didn't you just criticize Wherry for being critical without really adding any substantive debate?

    • Give Wherry a break. He has to sit through question period on a daily basis.

  24. “What's at stake is whether the political system of our country can actually address the real problems the country faces.”

    If they want to address the real problems Canadians face, pols would reduce the size of government and tax rates and let us get on with our lives. And that's all they need to do – everything is pointless. Does anyone believe the Fed government is going to solve the real problems we face? Whatever their solutions, they always seem to involve more money from taxpayers and little accountability of themselves or their programs.

    "Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem." Ronald Reagan – truer words never spoken.

    • Michael Ignatieff has made it very clear on several occasions that he does not believe in smaller government. Don't expect that to be a Liberal issue anytime in the near future. Government daycare, more intervention in the energy industry, and higher taxes are Liberal ideas.

    • You hit the nail on the head. Very few initiatives fall within federal jurisidiction. Most of it is the pervue of the provinces. Iffy talks about education but the provinces will not agree to federal intrusion. Oh yes they will take the money but in the end will do as they please. Same holds true for the other sacred cow…healthcare.
      Iffy and the Libs believe in big spending on programs that don't work but give them credit their propaganda machine has been finely tuned over the years and with their friends in the media Canadians have been duped many times in the past i.e. gun registry.

    • Except Reagan produced the biggest deficit in U.S. history until that time, only surpased by the George Bush 2. Getting the government "out of the way" is exactly what rich powerful people want. YOU on the other hand will be left to fend for yourself and you'll pay more for services. You're extremely naive. That's the problem with libertarians. Their naive and they don't want any responsibilities. They're like bratty children. Mine, mine, mine. They forget that we live in a society. That other people produced everything in the world that they grew into and we are all victims of externalities. We have to work together to take the edge off. Otherwise you're only as strong as the size of your gun — the the rich guys always have a bigger gun.

      • really? you might want to check out Obama's current and projected deficits. he makes everyone else look like spendthrifts by comparison. as for Reagan, only far left socialists discount his greatness both abroad in defeating communism and domestically in producing the greatest economic boom since post WWII. as for government, I assume you've never seen the inner workings of waste, entitlement and corruption that is naturally bred absent natural accountability that only exists in the private sector.

  25. The one progressive national project the libs could sell to Canadians if they did it smartly [ ie not just a huge statist endeavour] is the one of Aboriginal economic and educational grow. It is high time the third pillar of our founding peoples be allowed to fully participate in the national dream. We can argue about how, but it's long overdue. It is an investment Canadians would broadly support, if they felt the payoff was there for us, and of course for FN's people. Of course to do this will require courage to face the barrage of reduce the size of our gov't and all will be well.

    • Ah…might this have traction? Why else would cons vote it down? Depressing really, this really is an issue of pressing concern for the country, whether you are a proponent of national projects or simply wish for smaller gov't. Guess people would rather stay in their idealogical trenches then offer debate or alternatives. That way we all lose.

  26. Policy conference live blog! Finally it returns to Macleans.

  27. If this is an accurate recap of the first day's event then this going to be one gigiantic snooze fest. It can't be otherwise. People talking about what they know best and the Liberals trying to figure out what to do next. It is a recipe for confusion of the highest order. Iffy has his seminar to beat all seminars. He can stand up there and quote Shakespeare till his heart content and there is no answer to the lack of jobs. All it takes is political will. God help Canada and the Liberal party. If this is what they call a government in waiting then Stephen Harper has nothing to worry about.

    • I think it's a little disingenuous to say that they didn't talk about job creation today. If you actually listened to the speakers, I think the common theme emanating from them today is that the key to job creation is improved education, skills training and research/innovation.

      You and others may disagree with those ideas on their merits, but don't just blindly say they didn't talk about it.

      • Libertarians are naive. They don't seem to realize that they are not alone in society and that they are powerless against big forces out there that don't care about them. But mostly they don't want any responsibilities. They seem to WANT to have to live in a heavily armed gated community in the future. Not to be taken seriously. They will be ignored as the rest of us get on with building a better Canada.

      • Improved education? Without a ciriculum that is common across the country, classes that are teaching real subjects, teachers teaching longer than 193 days a year and classrooms full of kids with a mixture of kids who are normal and some with disabilities and a powerful teachers union who do not want their teachers held accountable for the quality and effectiveness of the teachers we will never have an effective education system in the country. Lets remember education is delivered by the provinces and all they are interested in is getting the maximum amount of money they can squeeze out of the feds.
        I agree with the skills training but I suspect that many kids in todays society do not want to be a plumber, electrician etc. Some of these skilled trademen are going to be needed in the future but I suspect given our society today kids are interested in the blue collar jobs.
        Research/Innovation…sounds good on paper but where do we get the biggest bang for our buck?

        We can talk about any subject we want to. We can identify the problems but if it is just a gabfest and nothing comes of it then it is a waste of time.

        • I agree with your earlier comment about federal/provincial jurisdiction and that primary/secondary education would fall in there; my comment was more directed at post-secondary accessbility. Accessibility should be improved so that only a person's academic merits should matter for admission, not their finances. I think it's awful that some people perceive universities as elitist institutions rather than open places of learning for people from all walks of life, and there is something to be said for action that addresses that perception.

          Regarding skills training, if kids today have low interest in the trades, that is a problem – society needs plumbers and electricians. I think it's also unfair to think skills training refers to only the trades. What about programmers, database administrators, graphic designers, etc.?

          Research/Innovation – yes, where do we get the biggest bang for our buck? I'd like to see our parliament have that discussion.

          • Post-secondary education is a racket with which governments collude by indoctrinating students with the "Stay in School" shibboleth and then guaranteeing student loans to remove any and all downward pressures on prices.

          • The trouble is most of our kids are dropping out of high school after grade 12. They have little interest in school and their marks are not good enough to get into university. In the meantime we have kids coming out of high school who are functionally illiterate and have trouble balancing their own budgets. They continue to live at home or rely on their parents to support them. It is a real issue but unless we make education more relevant to todays kids we are destined to have a pile of drop outs who only qualify to work at McDonalds.
            I hope you are not suggesting that we should provide free university tuition to those that qualify. Remember if there is nothing invested there is little reason to work hard and be the best you can be.
            You are right about skills training but I am still waiting for an effective way to get kids going to community colleges. The same reasons why kids don't go to university applies to skills training.

    • So, what your saying is that this conference is Much Ado About Nothing?

  28. Wherry you are being quite charming in this blog.

    But truly, what a waste of money and time, you can collect as much thoughts as you want Mr. Ignatieff, travel Canada, coast to coast to coast a thousand times waiting for this big ephipany or idea that will change our minds and elect you, is not going to happen . we already know you can't lead a party much less this wonderful country of ours!

    • Let me guess … you're a naive libertarian, too. You just want the government to "get off your back" so you can have a few more bucks to spend on yourself because you don't want any responsibilities. You don't want to pay your dues in a civilized country. Prefer a gated community? Move to Columbia or Chile.

      • That's quite the assumption, based on a short comment.

        Suggesting that Ignatieff can't properly lead his own party, let alone this country, is not a sentiment expressed solely by libertarians. There are many liberals who feel the same way.

      • If one wants the government to take a diminished role in his life, that person is asking for more responsibilities, not fewer.

        • Actually, I am not, I have always been a Liberal but I am on a holiday and supporting Harper (mind you I do not agree with the PM 50% of the time). To me personally, what is happening to the Liberal party is very sad, they are just so out of touch with Canada that they are not seeing what needs to be done.

          (gotta run taking kids to the movies will finish this later)

  29. in eveything you do dont forget about god theresa lot of christians in canada whether you know it or not alwys think what would jesus have done and i guarrantee you will winwin dont be a fanatic tho must raise canada premiums quick an lots

  30. Great read Aaron. Some funny lines, But your still a Liberal Blah,blah,blah…

    Wherry says..

    "1:54pm. And now a celebration of the Internet and the Twitter and all the ways in which people across the country are following and participating in these proceedings. Yes, yes, modern communication is fascinating. We will have truly progressed as a society when we stop being impressed by our ability to speak to one another without necessarily being in the same room. The first phone call was completed more than 130 years ago. Let's try to maybe get over it."

    Gold, solid gold….

    • Lol!!!

  31. A note for times like this: Dec 09, 2008

    The Liberals want to have a new leader in place before the end of the year, so they can prepare for a possible showdown with the Tories in Parliament early next year.

    Rae had wanted all Liberal members to vote on the leadership. But the party's national executive decided they would have a vote that only included MPs, senators, riding association presidents, club presidents, and defeated candidates. They also decided it would be on Dec. 17 – not enough time for Rae to organize a significant challenge to Ignatieff, who already had the support of support.

    “I learned how to count a while ago,” Rae joked on CTV's Mike Duffy Live. “I drew a conclusion that said it was time to pack it in.”

    Liberal Sen. Céline Hervieux-Payette, who participated in the conference call, was reportedly furious over the process by which Ignatieff will take power, Fife said.

    “This will destroy the Liberal Party, I'm devastated by what this will do to the party, they don't understand anything about democracy,” she said, according to notes obtained by Fife.

  32. For genrations my family has been Liberal, I hope the party gets its act together soon

    • This puts the proof to the idea that Liberals are stupid. What a really ridiculous thing to say. Try voting using your brain rather than your family history. Really how idiotic can you be!

      • I think there's a way you could express that same idea without coming off as an a**hole. Find it, or please stay away.

  33. When did we become a country that hates big ideas, big thinkers and big vision? We, as a nation, scoff at intelligence, education and debate. What have we replaced it with? Stagnant Tim Horton's crowd ideology, Everyman thinking. Sorry folks, but that is not where it starts, it's where it ends. Why don't some of you actually LISTEN to what's being said. You don't have to agree with everything, in fact it would be disturbing if you did. But, dismissing this conference or any other because the people involved (non-partisan from what i can see) are very likely smarter than you. Well, that just demonstrates why they are. I'd bet most of the people who value this are soaking up all they can.

    • The fact is nobody is dismissing big ideas or a big vision. The fact is those things needed to be rooted in reality. Having a pile of academics spouting what we already know is not the way to build a party platform for the Liberal party. It is just a gabfest with a lot of topics being discussed and problems laid on the table with no solutions. It is not complicated. We need government to play a role in the economy to ensure the country is able to be competitive in the global marketplace so businesses can create jobs. We do not need pie in the sky social programs which make us feel good but do not work i.e. gun registry. We need lower personal income taxes so the consumers can drive the economy. We need to stop picking winners and losers in the economy. All of this is known to the Liberal party and the other parties in parliament. However, they are all busy trying to buy our votes. There is only one taxpayer and we have three levels of government dipping their hands into our pockets. The Libs need to get down to brass tacks and decide what kind of party they want to be in the 21st century and what policies will best affect the ordinary Canadian. There are more of us than those intellectuals who raise a lot of issues but have no solutions.

    • We dont hate big ideas we hate Iggy!

  34. Am I mistaken or do the Conservatives just adopt Liberal policy as their own once the Liberals release that policy to the public? Why is it that the Conservatives have been able to rule without any policy whatsoever since 2006?

    I think the Liberals are over-thinking this one too much. I guess that's what happens when you've had 2 academics in a row as Party leader.

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/

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