Trudeau versus policy in Liberal leadership race
Marc Garneau has fired a direct shot at Justin Trudeau in the Liberal leadership race, accusing him of lacking policy substance. An excerpt from the statement:
“As Liberals, we cannot wait until after the leadership race is over to find out what we signed up for,” Garneau said in a prepared statement. “That is like asking Canadians to buy a new car without first test-driving it.”
Trudeau, however, has been saying for a while now that he won't be putting out a policy platform. He said this in an interview we ran over the holidays: link to that is here.
And last week, when Trudeau was talking to students at Western University in London, he pointed out this policy lack as a mark of his distinction in the race. I've filed a story with some of these quotes in it, but here's the full context, for those who are interested. It starts when a student asks him how he differs from the other eight candidates:
That’s an excellent question and that’s a question that’s at the base of what the Liberal party is trying to figure out right now. And you’re very right, the nine of us candidates, all of us very strong candidates in very different ways, have very similar approaches -- in that we’re evidence-based, we’re not too far left, we’re not too far right, we tend to want to build dramatically on the values and the needs we have going forward.
So the big difference, to my mind, is in what we actually see as a need for the Liberal party to do. Many of my colleagues are very much emphasizing their strengths around policy and their specific ideas and I’m actually frustrating both media pundits and a lot of others -- not because I haven’t had a lot of very clear things to say, whether it be against the Northern Gateway pipeline, in favour of the legalization of marijuana, against strengthening the language laws in Quebec, various things that are ... difficult issues for politicians to deal with.
But because I’m not going to be putting forward a comprehensive platform over the course of this leadership. And that’s because the Liberal party has gotten far too much in the habit of generating a platform by the leader and some very smart people around them, that they then turn to Liberals across the country and say ‘now go and sell this door to door.’
This leadership is the beginning of a platform-development process, not the end of it. And what we do around connecting and drawing in ideas from around the country, not just from Liberal circles, but from Canadians who are looking for a better option, right across the country, will be the big work we have to do over the coming months and even years leading up to 2015.
By the time the 2015 election comes around, we will have had enough development of policies. We will have an extraordinarily detailed, extremely bold platform to present to Canadians. But now is not the time to short-cut this. My emphasis right now, rather than being on policy-development, like most of my colleagues, is on organization. It is on building the capacity to be relevant in every single riding across the country, folding people back not just into the Liberal party, but actually into the political process. Because before we can sell someone on our platform as being the best one, the smartest one, the one with the vision, the one with the long-term view for this country, we actually have to remind Canadians that it’s important for political parties to have a platform, a vision, a long-term view of this country. And that only happens when you rebuild a connection with people in their lives, on their ground, feeling like they matter in how we shape the platform for the election.