Well, I'd ask people to be surprised but it seems Andrew Coyne, the prolific journalist and author, doesn't seem to like the Liberals as we work through our wonderful four-day convention here in Montreal.
Now, granted that I have a bias, I do I tend to disagree with Mr. Coyne's points. His article claims a few things happening here that, in his view, puts our entire party to shambles - such as Trudeau's attempt to link the economy to the Quebec Charter of Values debate; policies coming from our party's base that are spend, spend, spend; and essentially that Lt. Gen. (Retired)Andrew Leslie is a liar.
That is a fairly fluffy list of grievances. For example, Coyne states that Leslie was the one who in fact approached the Conservatives about running - even through that's not what the e-mails that have been released by the PMO say. These emails, as laid out in the Star, show Leslie working with the government for his retirement, considering postings in places like the Museum of Civilisation, not political party positions as Coyne coyly implies. That specific claim came from a PMO spokesperson, and a claim that Coyne has latched on to pretty willingly.
The question about Trudeau linking the Charter of Values debate to the economic success of Quebec, I can honestly say I have no idea what he is talking about. I don't remember hearing it in his speech, but my French is pretty terrible so I could have missed it there. Knowing Coyne's work so far, however, I'm not entirely convinced Trudeau actually said it.
But let us assume he did. Is it honestly that far fetched? Cultural diversity could certainly help drive the economy, especially in a post-industrial nation like Canada where we need the bodies for labour, graduates, and a broad range of skill sets among the population; we also benefit from cultural links between our nation and others, as diasporas give us a very strong link to their home countries. Groups like the Canada-China Business Council are built upon that foundation.
Coyne treats this idea as if its somewhere out of a looney bin, when it doesn't seem strange at all. No stranger than saying the PQ's Charter threatens to cause nurses and doctors to leave, and thus medical care for Québécois, across the province, when it clearly does.
Coyne also says that the middle class is doing just fine! Maybe if you believe in Jim Flaherty's imaginary families. Unfortunately for Coyne, the rest of is are grounded in reality, a reality where middle-class incomes have stagnated for decades, where debt is out of control, and where government services that we depend on are being peeled back instead actually being provided, thanks to not just this cut-happy government, but the state of the economy in general. Let's not even get started on the fast growth of the income inequality gap, though I'm sure Coyne thinks that is a myth as well.
Let's not forget Coyne's biggest jab in his article - that the Liberals are "...not a “new” or “reinvented” Liberal party; it is not even the centrist party of recent memory". He lists off a number of policies that ask a future Liberal government to spend money on this, that, and more.
Couple things. First, who ever said we were new or reinvented? We have barely rebranded, except for a slight font change. What the Liberals in many areas of the country have gone through is a renewal of commitment to the Party, supporting in many ways traditional Liberal ideas that have been expounded upon for decades.
Second, it isn't as if the idea of creating a high-speed rail link from Windsor to Quebec City - where a lot of our population and economic power resides - is new, or that having national strategies on manufacturing, transportation, or climate change are radical ideas emanating from the left of the left. These are sensible policies designed to address the needs of a modern nation with diverse parts - kind of the entire job of the federal government, if I remember correctly. It is a job Harper does not seem fully committed to, so I can understand Coyne's confusion.
Coyne just sees money going out the window. I, and my 3,000 or more Liberal friends here in Montreal, see it as investment opportunities, ones that people like Larry Summers point out. It is important that the government be an active partner and investor in infrastructure and people, very simply by virtue of how large of an investment we can make, and how we can focus on the long-term advantages and consequences of any idea. This is a very Liberal idea, one that has never been pushed aside, despite the media narrative that insists Trudeau is taking the Party to the right - it's simply never happened.
Maybe its Coyne that needs to "reinvent" his thinking. Or maybe we really are all drinking the Kool-Aid here. I don't know, but I don't particularly care either - the convention isn't even half-way over, and I and 3000+ of my friends have a lot of things to do. Listening to Andrew Coyne parrot the Harper government line is not one of them.