Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Let's give them something to talk about...

In line with some of my recent posts about setting the agenda, I found Jeffrey Simpson's piece in today's Globe and Mail to be an excellent read. Entitled "Let's have a mature discussion about public finances", the piece discusses the all-too-often tendency of politicians to avoid discussing the hard challenges we are facing.

Mr. Simpson correctly points out that restoring some measure of balance to our national finances will require Canadians to consider real, difficult choices. Window dressing cuts, such as those recently announced in Ontario regarding "perks" or those announced in Ottawa this last year regarding public service wages, are not going to accomplish anything meaningful.

However, putting these on the table and suggesting that they are meaningful unfortunately takes our focus away from questions about tax policy, health care spending (a BIG ticket item looming for the federal and provincial governments), and how best to enhance productivity.

In a recent post I noted the following: "Put another way, long-term issues require thoughtful consideration, engagement and ultimately hard decisions - decisions which will inevitably anger as many people as they please. In other words, they are fraught with risk for the politician who knows that he or she may be knocking on doors in 6-8 weeks asking for a vote." This is the problem that the election around the corner creates.

The thing is, in today's world problems - including many of the ones we are facing in Canada - do not wait around patiently for us to get our act together. The government that is formed after the next election will, whether they like it or not, be tasked with moving Canada forward. If that's the case, don't you think it would be better if we started talking about it now?


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