What a refreshing change after the Reformers told a high school in Smith Falls that education was not a priority.
Ignatieff wants public input at 'thinkers' conference
The Canadian Press
January 20, 2010
OTTAWA — You don't need to be a world-acclaimed intellectual to take part in Michael Ignatieff's "thinkers" conference.
The Liberal leader wants ordinary Canadians to join in the discussions about the kind of country they want by Canada's 150th birthday in 2017 and the steps needed to get there. To that end, the Liberal party launched a website (http://www.can150.ca/) Tuesday encouraging Canadians to share their views on five major challenges facing the country.
The party says all Canadians can also take part, via webcast, in the conference itself -- to be held March 26-28 in Montreal. The meeting is to feature "leading thinkers and doers from across Canada and around the world."
While Ignatieff is billing the conference as non-partisan, he's hoping it will form the basis for a Liberal election platform. "What we're trying to say to Canadians is this isn't just a recession, it's a restructuring of the whole global economy," Ignatieff said outside a Liberal caucus retreat.
"Canadians are looking for a party that's thinking clearly about the challenges facing Canada as it enters this new world. We want to be ready and we want to give Canadians a kind of visionary alternative to the current politics of drift and improvisation and division."
The five major themes to be explored at the conference are: Creating the jobs of today and tomorrow. The role of the federal government in promoting Canadian culture and competitiveness in a digital age. The role of the government in helping families care simultaneously for their children and aging parents, to save for retirement and their kids educations.
Reconciling energy development, environmental sustainability and economic growth. Strengthening Canada's presence on the international stage.
The party began framing the debates during Tuesday's caucus meeting, inviting experts in economic, social and culture policy to make presentations about the challenges ahead.
The experts included Anne Golden, president of the Conference Board of Canada, Alain Pineau, national director of the Canadian Conference of the Arts, and Scott Clark, a former deputy minister of finance. More experts are to be tapped over the next three weeks as Liberals stage roundtable and panel discussions on Parliament Hill, in a bid to show they're keeping busy with the nation's business even though Prime Minister Stephen Harper has shut down Parliament until March 3.
New Democrat MPs also held a caucus meeting Tuesday, in nearby Wakefield, Que. Like the Liberals, NDP Leader Jack Layton said his MPs will be back at work on the Hill on Monday -- the day Parliament was to have resumed before Harper prorogued it.