Friday, October 26, 2012

On full information

I'll put together another Saskatchewan NDP leadership roundup post later today. But first, I'll point out one development which calls for some attention of its own.

Erin Weir has put together a policy comparison page - showing all of the policies announced by each contender, along with the other candidates' responses. And while there may be room to quibble with some editorial choices (for example, treating Weir's child-care plan as a "response" to Trent Wotherspoon's pre-kindergarten proposal but not vice versa), the page is generally oriented toward giving members a full picture of all of the policies raised for discussion - not only those which most flatter Weir as a candidate.

Which makes for a rather noteworthy break from how politics are all too often handled. For now, parties and candidates tend to see their role as pitching themselves and their own policies while running down their opponents on both counts. And that's generally coupled with gross politicking around single votes covering multiple policies (e.g. through the "our budget funds X, you voted against our budget, therefore you're against X" line of argument).

Moreover, the idea of acknowledging areas of agreement or potentially interesting proposals that don't form part of one's own platform might seem utterly foreign within some parties.

But I'm not sure the current practice is necessarily the only (nor the best) way of presenting policy. Indeed, I'd think there's plenty of upside in a party making a conscious effort to offer a source of factual information as to what options are available, rather than presenting only its own most positive spin and leave it to the media to sort out the differences between different options. And the credibility built up by a single party which expressly values accuracy and comprehensiveness might go a long way toward breaking the impasse of identical-sounding claims from all parties.

Of course, we have yet to see how Weir's first step in that direction will influence the NDP's leadership campaign. But there's a chance that it could be one of the most important ideas we'll see discussed during the course of the campaign.


  1. Thanks for your interest, Greg. We certainly welcome quibbles and further information about where other candidates stand on the policies presented.

    On the specific quibble you raise, having early learning and childcare in schools from age two to five encompasses pre-kindergarten. However, making pre-kindergarten available to all four-year-olds is not an alternative policy for children aged two, three or five.

  2. Understood, but it does strike me as a partial answer to the question of early learning and child care. And I do think that in order to be credible, a full compilation will have to give opponents the benefit of the doubt in at least recognizing partial measures.