Sunday, May 24, 2009

Worth discussing

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about one effort to bring broad discussions of a social democratic vision for Saskatchewan to the forefront of the NDP leadership race. And with the campaign having taken a seeming turn toward finger-pointing over the last week or so, it's worth taking a moment to bring the conversation back toward a more positive direction.

So of the 48 more targeted questions raised in the Sowing the Seeds document, I'll highlight 10 which seem to me to particularly deserve some attention in the rest of the leadership race and beyond:
A. Governance and Citizenship

2. How can government be less partisan, more inclusive, open-minded, and reflective? How can long-range thinking be reconciled with short-term political imperatives and the realities of electioneering?

3. How do we open governance and government to more talent, and make public service more appealing? How does government tap the expertise and wisdom of citizens and community leaders more effectively?

B. Building an Economically Coherent Platform

1. Where should revenues come from and in what proportions (personal and corporate taxation, sales tax, royalties, dividends from investments, state-owned enterprises)?

3. Where does the province have the latitude to chart its own course and where are its options constrained by external realities?

C. Food Production, Food Security, Rural Development

1. What principles should guide food production, land use policy, environmentally sustainable practices, etc.? What investments need to be made to build models, incorporate scientific knowledge, and promote innovation? How should the province situate itself in international discussions of food policy?

E. Building a Smarter Saskatchewan

6. How do (sic) support continuing and life long education among the population? Can we build on our already advanced internet infrastructure to foster an educated and engaged citizenry?

F. Health

3. How should we overhaul incentive and funding systems to encourage health care practitioners and organizations to pursue efficiencies, improve quality, and achieve goals?

G. Justice

1. How do we increase social justice in our society, promoting a sense of fairness and inclusiveness, and reducing inequities in social participation by gender, race and economic position?

H. Energy – Between Past and Future

1. How do we develop the principles for determining whether and how to exploit our energy-based natural resources? What criteria should guide decision-making?

I. The Workforce of Tomorrow

5. What can be done to create positive alternatives to adversarial labour relations and the entrenchment of an us-them mentality?
Most of these have been dealt with to some extent in at least some of the leadership candidates' platforms. And there's plenty of room to differentiate between the candidates on their stated principles and policies on some issues - not to mention to ask whether any one candidate's solution is exactly right, or whether a combination of the ideas offered up in the leadership race is needed.

Of course, there will be plenty more discussion of the camp-based view of the race to come - and I can't say I won't be following and posting on new developments in that department. But I'll encourage everybody following the race to take some time to ask and discuss questions along the lines of the above both for themselves and in conversations with other NDP supporters - lest the race be completely overtaken by the cynicism which Sowing the Seeds seeks to move beyond.

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