Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Advice for a Liberal Candidate

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Apr 28, 2009

Originally posted on Half an Hour, April 28, 2009.

Responding to James C. Morton:

> As we come to the Convention later this week remember, there is a Liberal forest growing.

Well maybe, but if so, try to do some good, and don't just squander it. Simply putting into place a clone of the current government is insufficient.

Try to be a little bit visionary and maybe to recall some of those Liberal pronciples that have served the party well in the past.

- Canada used to have a rail system it could be proud of, until it was dismantled by Airbus Mulroney in the 1980s. It's time to convert part of the auto sector into the production of high-speed rail components, and to establish a nation-wide network. We only get one chance to do this, because ti will be prohibitively expensive after the recession and after the productive capacity has been dispersed.

- Canada used to be seen as a leader in environmental responsibility, even if our practices didn't always pass muster. But we can become leaders again by investing in energy-efficient technologies such as solar and wind power, hydrogen production, LED lighting, and electric vehicles.

- Canada used to be a model of social fairness and social justice, and these are essential ingredients in a multicultural society. Respond to the recession by ensuring that nobody loses their home (or rental), that nobody is put onto the street, that nobody goes hungry. This is not just aid to the indigent. Piut in place programs that will help such people retrain, retool, and reorient themselves - but make these voluntary, so that people have a sense of investing in themselves.

- Canada was once a leader in online access and services, but investment in infrastructure has been stagnating since the privatization of the telecom industry (which piled up debt in takeovers and acquisition, not actual production). We need a national broadband initiative, much like was proposed before Martin took power. And Canadian culture, content and learning should be freely available online.

- Support for the arts and culture used to be a hallmark of Canadian government policy, but more recently governments have taken to pandering to U.S. copyright lobbyists. Resist these lobbies, preserve Canada's tradition of sharing (through, eg., the media levy) and promote Canadian talent directly through a revitalized arts and culture program (the one our government has been cutting back on recently).

- Canada's education system has been the envy of the world, with the Globe and Mail a few years back suggesting that our children may be the best educated in the history of the world. But investments need to be made in the regions, access to electives and specialized education (such as provided in Edmonton) made the standard nationally, and community-based and focused learning made the norm.

- Canada's international reputation as a peaceful and safe place was created by employing less police power, not more. The use of force by police should be limited, with tasers treated more like guns than like batons. Legislation restruicting guns should be entrenched and extended, and effort taken to improve the efficiency of the gun registry. Internationally, Canada should return to the role of peacekeep rather than active combatant.

These are just a few things, but you get what I'm after. It's not enough to simply take power. Try to do some good, to do something worthwhile.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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