Thursday, August 31, 2017

Leadership 2017 Platform Analysis - Charlie Angus

While most discussion around the NDP's leadership campaign has revolved around the ebb and flow of news cycles, it's always worth a closer look as to what the candidates see as worth highlighting. So I'll be taking a look at the policies on offer from the candidates, starting with Charlie Angus.

While Angus has been vague on some points in the leadership debates, he's offered interesting and distinctive proposals in a few others, including:
- the devolution of Indigenous program delivery to the community level, accompanied by a plan to dismantle the INAC structure which currently oversees it;
- a housing plan which would use existing CMHC surpluses to provide for a right to housing, both through social housing and through credits toward the cost of other forms of construction; and
- a push toward cooperative economic development, including giving workers the legal right of first refusal over a closing business.

Aside from those points, there isn't much in Angus' platform which isn't broadly reflected in the plans of his challengers. And more problematically, Angus' platform leaves more questions than answers both in some of what it promises, and particularly what it omits.

On climate change, Angus' lack of clarity on pipelines is matched by the absence of any specific targets (or plans to meet them). And in a policy area where the supply of ideas and promises has long exceeded the political will to act, the proposal of a national advisory council leaves a worrisome amount of room for further delay. 

Meanwhile, Angus' urban agenda seems to utterly miss the jurisdictional basis of municipal operations, proposing the creation of "neighbourhood corporations" and altered municipal governance models which make no mention of the provincial role in establishing and governing municipalities.

And Angus lacks specific plans in areas ranging from justice and ethics to health care and child care (though pharmacare does show up as a subpoint in his "working class" policy).

At best, those omissions might be explained by Angus' plan for membership-driven policy development. But that too represents a lot more deflection than detail.

As a result, Angus more than any other candidate has left NDP members with little more than a "trust me" when it comes to policy. And while a series of high-profile endorsements coupled with a career's worth of activism and advocacy offers some basis to do so, I'd be much more comfortable if Angus had provided a more clear indication was to which policies he'd pursue if given the chance.

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