Sunday, May 31, 2009

Leadership 2009 - Policy Reviews

The four Saskatchewan NDP leadership contenders have handled the question of policy in different ways throughout the race, ranging from Yens Pedersen's early platform rollout to Ryan Meili's gradual unveiling of policies to the more scattershot approaches from Deb Higgins and Dwain Lingenfelter. But less than a week before the vote, it seems fairly safe to say there won't be too much yet to come on the policy front. So now would seem to be an ideal time to take an overall look at each of the candidates' policy proposals.

Before jumping into a candidate-by-candidate review, though, I'll use this post to set out the criteria which look to me to define how a candidate has handled policy questions:

- Thoroughness - has the candidate covered most or all of the public policy areas which members are likely to want to see addressedby a leadership candidate?

- Consistency - is the platform internally consistent, or do the principles underlying some policies conflict significantly with those supporting others?

- Creativity - how much of the platform reflects new additions to the Saskatchewan political scene compared to what's been discussed over the past few years?

- Support - how well does the candidate support the policies within the platform, whether through research, argument or third-party validation?

- Pragmatism - how likely is the platform to be successfully implemented, based on both the public demand which can be mustered in support and the likely degree of resistance?

Note that while I'll be referring to a "platform", I won't be looking only at the policy contents of the candidates' websites. Instead, I'll be incorporating proposals and arguments made in the Commonwealth, in candidate media conferences, and anywhere else that seems to me to shed light on the policy work that's been done during the campaign.

In addition to reviewing the platforms in general based on these principles, I'll also highlight one "big idea" from each candidate which seems to me to reflect their policy choices. So, stay tuned - as while the race may be nearing a close, there's still plenty left to discuss before NDP members cast their final ballots on Saturday.

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