01 August 2011

Sliding a sheet of paper, NDP version

The New Democrats announced a couple of policy planks last week for the general election campaign.

Well,  sort of announced.  The party’s news release says that leader Lorraine Michael announced something but part of it sure doesn’t look like much of a clear, verifiable commitment:

“Government should have done more to ensure that this province would play a role in the federal government shipbuilding plans.”

In contrast, the NDP leader said, an NDP government will help its province’s own shipyards secure contracts with outside buyers, …

So what does that mean exactly?

Good question.

What Michael is talking about in that first sentence is the decision by a private sector company to withdraw from a federal government tender competition. She doesn’t explain what more the provincial government was supposed to do nor does she give any idea of what some mythical New Democrat government of the future might do to change the situation she doesn’t really describe in the first place.

We just get the comment that the provincial government should have done “more” and that a New Democrat government will “help”.

In the second part of the shipbuilding “policy”, Michael said that the New Democrats would “commit to building Newfoundland and Labrador ferries within the province.”  Of course that is actually nothing new:  the current Conservative administration committed to the same thing in 2003.  While it took them four or five years to sort it out, they have managed to build a couple of ferries at shipyards inside the province.

Now while the release said Michael talked about two policies, there’s no way to be sure if the two policies were about shipbuilding or if this counts as the second plank:

“The provincial government has to work with all the players – industry, the municipalities, the workers – to ensure that the fishery can diversify and thrive,…”

That’s not really a policy so much as a general statement. Unfortunately for voters, it doesn’t actually mean anything. One might wonder, for example, how a municipality could help top restore fish stocks since there isn’t a town in the country that has any responsibility for any part of the fishery.

Maybe Michael meant something else.

Maybe she did not know what she means.

Voters will likely have a hard time knowing what Michael and the New Democrats mean either.

But readers of these e-scribbles will know what it means:

Of course, that’s pretty much consistent with political parties that aren’t interested in drawing in new supporters based on a platform aimed at voter interests.  As your humble e-scribbler noted for NTV, you are going to have a hard time sliding a sheet of paper between the parties on major issues. The one thing they will all have in common is a commitment to spend gobs of public cash:  pork is the priority. Likewise, for all parties – but especially the current incumbent Tories, it will be yet more  paternalism.

Local political parties all practice a form of defensive politics that involves a combination of preaching to the people they already have while repeating whatever it is the other guys have been doing that worked before.

Expect more of the same.

- srbp -