An open letter to Susan Riley (Ottawa Citizen)
I always enjoy your columns, but feel compelled to modestly take issue with yesterday’s highly critical piece on Layton and the NDP. http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/columnists/story.html?id=380c76cc-f1cc-4aa8-84d7-4aadebd0ec1f
Yes, Layton is sometimes unduly macho combative and, yes, the frequent attacks on the Liberals do sometimes grate, especially if they allow Harper to get off the hook more easily. I’ll readily concede that Dion and most of his party tilt to the left of Harper (not a hard task), and that we need to achieve some common purpose among progressives to defeat Harper.
And yet, it is hardly as if the Liberals are not fishing in the NDP voter pond by putting on their usual progressive pre election/opposition party face. More importantly, is Dion really as progressive as he wants progressives to think he is?
Leaving aside the not inconsiderable fact that the Liberals indeed did next to nothing about climate change in their full decade of power when this was supposedly top of the agenda, I am disturbed by the fact that Dion/McCallum have embraced virtually the entire Conservative tax cut agenda – notably the further deep cuts to corporate taxes, and the two point $12 Billion per year cut to the GST. When I went to the Finance Committee two weeks ago, McCallum was describing the Liberals as the “real tax cut party.” In the absence of any proposals for progressive tax reform, where will they find the fiscal resources to fund the anti poverty agenda they talk so much about, especially in a slowing economy?
Also, I note that they have embraced much of the costly Conservative family benefit agenda, directed to middle and higher income families, rather than calling for a re-direction of resources to child care/early learning, and targeted benefits to low income children. Caledon, the architects of some progressive social policy under Chretien, have been quite critical, while a lot of anti poverty groups have failed to notice just how thin is the Liberal anti poverty plan is.