Saturday, July 17, 2010

Same Old Story (Alf Apps Remix)

Lib president Alf Apps is taking heat from at least a few angles for his idea of "perspective and context", primarily for his attack on the media. But there's another theme underlying Apps' memo that's even more important for Canadians looking for genuine change from the Harper government, rather than more of the same in a red uniform.

Apps' message is based on the idea that the lone tasks for an opposition party are to hang around within striking distance of the government, and then assume power by default when the governing party becomes unpopular. Never mind discussing or promoting any particular values which he thinks Libs might want to support: in fact, he draws no distinction whatsoever between changes of government from Lib to Con and those from Con to Lib in describing what he thinks the Libs should be aiming for.

Needless to say, when the Libs' national president sees no substantive difference between his party and the Cons, I don't see much reason to argue with that assessment. But that concession tends to thoroughly undermine the ability of the Ignatieff Libs to make a case for meaningful change, since they've effectively admitted that their plan is simply to continue the same old political cycle in hopes that they'll be able to use it to their advantage.

And that mindset has plenty of consequences for what Canadians can expect from any future Lib government as well. After all, if Ignatieff's inner circle sees Stephen Harper as a model to be emulated rather than a problem to be fixed, then it figures to be downright eager to govern with a similar disregard for both previous commitments and the interests of the public.

Fortunately, Apps' admission that Ignatieff is entirely focused on putting a new coat of paint on the same old politics should go a long way toward convincing activists in their midst that their priorities won't be taken any more seriously by the Lib central command in the future than they've been in the past. And that in turn should make it easier for Canadians to put their support behind a party which not only has a vision for Canada, but also recognizes that change means more than the opposite side of the same Con/Lib coin.

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