This morning, the Liberals are launching their 2011 election platform at the Delta hotel in Ottawa.
It's being unveiled with much fanfare and logistics. At around 10 a.m., reporters are "locked up" -- meaning we're cut off from phones and BlackBerries, just like budget day, so we can look through the documents before the official release at 11 a.m. This is how the 1993 platform was released too -- much to the consternation of my editors then, I recall, who bristled at the idea of an opposition party having the effrontery to treat its platform like a full-fledged budget.
Two differences from 1993, however: It's not the same Delta hotel that was used for the 1993 launch, but another Delta hotel, across the street. I'm also told we're not to call this a "Red Book," as that document and subsequent Liberal platforms were nicknamed during Chretien's time at the helm.
"Family Pack" is the name that's floating around for this platform. It's reportedly been "camera-ready" for some time now and has been rolling off the printers in the past little while, to be put in our hands this morning. It's thick too, we're told; not simply a flimsy pamphlet. As Canadian Press reports: Sunday’s platform, which comes on Day 9 of the campaign, also has a red cover, includes around 100 pages, and will focus on helping families cope in the post-recession world.
Of course it won't be judged by its nicknames or its camera-readiness -- this platform has to be an illustration of a party that is "government-ready." Ever since the 1990s, that's been the test of any party's political platform: all promises must be fully costed, credible and preferably endorsed by independent observers and economic experts.
I note that Jim Flaherty is lined up to respond to the Liberal platform later today. I'm not sure he's one of the "independent observers" reporters will be looking for, but I'm absolutely sure, given how many times Flaherty accused the opposition parties of failing to read his budget before they pronounced upon it, that he will have read the Liberals' platform before he speaks.