Look past the Liberals’ support of the intellectual abortion known as native self government and their impending pledge to shift more of the tax burden onto the backs of the poor in the name of fighting climate change, and there is not much “progressive” about the Federal Liberal party. They are not much better than a de facto extension of BC Liberal Party and little wonder one might say. Look no further than the fact BC Liberal strategist Mark Marissen is Liberal co chair. However, Marissen is symptom rather than the cause. Marissen was a loyal Martin supporter long before he was Dion’s main squeeze. Without getting into a long drawn out argument about what cuts where necessary in the 1990s what were not, a pretty good argument can be made for saying that Canada’s poorest are significantly worse off since 1994. Cuts were made to EI, to CPP, and to Health care. Tuition fees skyrocketed, daycare costs have skyrocketed and all the while real wages have shrank. The only thing that is working in the poor’s favor is that the unemployment rate is down.
Now, Ignatieff made a lot about a core of set of Federal programs making up the backbone of this country during his leadership campaign. He was right to; asked to define what it means to be Canadian the public invariably trots out a series of national programs introduced under Trudeau and Pearson. This is monumental political achievement and one you would think the Liberals would want to build on, but these days Liberals do not even toy with the idea of imposing a federal program on the provinces. They are unwilling to show any backbone as it where. There is no national minimum age, no national daycare program, no national pharmacare program, and no public dental care. Even the number of mandated holidays varies from province to province and the federal minimum lags far behind the rest of the Western world, with the notable exception of the US of course. In short, outside of a failed attempt to provide "universal" childcare for 10% of the Canadian kids under the age of 6, the Liberals have not attempted to strengthen the federalist backbone since Trudeau. If the Liberal party is again going to become the de facto “governing party”, it has to be willing to again embrace universality and develop a vision for all of Canada.