- In advance of this weekend's Progress Summit, Robin Sears comments on the significance of the Broadbent Institute and other think tanks in shaping policy options:
The Center for American Progress was the wakeup call for progressives around the world. Independent-minded, massively funded, deeply professional, it was created to develop winning agendas for a new Democratic president. Key Obamites trained there. Core strategies and goals were polished there. Their success helped to spawn a third generation of think tanks who understood that to have real impact, good ideas had to be married to credible execution.- Meanwhile, Desmond Cole interviews David Hulchanski on rising inequality in Toronto and elsewhere. And Kate McInturff notes that increased inequality is just one of the harmful results of an obsession with fighting deficits rather than improving the lives of citizens.
In Canada today, the two ‘conviction-based’ parties of left and right as political scientists are wont to label conservatives and social democrats—have thriving think tanks that have played important roles in both the idea baking and the training of a new generation of political activists. The Manning Centre—unlike the Fraser institute—has become less fringe and more effectively political. The Broadbent Institute has quickly found its groove as a forum where greenies, left liberals, New Democrats, and independent activists can hammer out new progressive visions and the tools to deliver them.
The Broadbent Institute’s executive director Rick Smith and his small but impressive team seem so far to have found their footing, pushing the envelope a little, rallying partisans as required, and avoiding the curse of think tanks everywhere: becoming pedantic, boring, and irrelevant. Their annual gatherings of the progressive clans have exceeded most cynical old-timers’ expectations; convening a new generation from outside partisan politics, from the NGO and environmental movements, left liberals and social democrats, and helping them build bonds both personal and political.
Ten years from now—or maybe much sooner—one may expect a proud young minister celebrating the success of a dramatic new initiative, just endorsed by Parliament, telling reporters, “Well, it all started late one boozy night, at the Broadbent summit!”
- Roy Romanow highlights the imminent dangers facing Canada's health care system if we don't fill in missing pieces including a pharmacare program.
- Raveena Aulakh reports on the Council of Canadians' damning study on the protection of water in Canada. And on the subject of regulatory negligence, Allison Martel finds that CN Rail has seen a massive jump in derailments even as it's carrying more hazardous products including crude oil.
- Finally, Bob Hepburn discusses how Stephen Harper decided to use the politics of fear as his main means of clinging to power. And thwap observes that a reasonable amount of Parliamentary pushback has gone a long way in countering the spin when it comes to C-51.