Monday, March 30, 2015

#prgrs15 Wrapup

As readers may have noticed in my earlier posts, I had the opportunity to attend the Broadbent Institute's Progress Summit 2015. And as a whole, the summit was well worth attending, featuring a wide range of interesting speakers and topics, a strong turnout including plenty of people whose work is influencing my own blogging, and a well-designed schedule which packed plenty into just a few days. (On that front, the contrast to a convention which needs to fit in formal party business was striking - though there's still something to be said for being able to have direct and official input into elections and policy resolutions.)

That said, there were a couple of related points which I'd think might be worth considering for future events if they weren't already taken into account.

One of the weekend's headline events was the Great Budget Debate which more than lived up to its billing. But it was nonetheless jarring to see a progressive institution hand over half of its central talk on the economy to a laissez-faire position which is grossly overrepresented in nearly every other forum. And while it was a plus to see the right have to deal with a skeptical crowd for a change, I'd wonder whether there was an opportunity to debate economics from different progressive perspectives - e.g. discussing the relative merits of universality vs. targeted programs or balancing budgets in nominal terms vs. keeping debt to a set proportion of GDP from within the progressive movement itself.

And those types of discussions as to the relative merits of views which could be seen as progressive were relatively sparse in the panels as well, which (at least from my impression) were more diverse in voices than in positions.

Now, it could be that the event's planners were looking primarily to build progressive unity, making it useful to present a few obvious foils while otherwise focusing on points of agreement rather than dispute. But if there's anything I'd change for future summits, it would be some added effort to start conversations which may encourage more debate within the progressive movement as to the best means to pursue even as they serve to highlight the shared end of a stronger and more equal society.


  1. Anonymous6:23 a.m.

    I never read the Toronto Sun but came across a Headline on my news aggregate that you may find interesting.......

    1. There's probably a genuinely interesting debate to be had as to the effects of aligning a think tank with a party, and the place of the Broadbent Institute on that spectrum. But Furey's "they're bad cuz they hurt Harper's fee-fees!" isn't anywhere near the mark.

  2. Anonymous1:51 p.m.

    I attended this Summit. I extremely enjoyed it was educated on many levels. Greg I agree with many of you points and in fact don't disagree with any of them. However The single biggest take away I got from the weekend was that if the Progressives are going to win the fight and take back Canada they (we) need to fight together. That fight and cooperative effort can and will take on many faces as well as allowing for disagreement on various points all the time keeping the objective at hand. But that is what I got.

    1. Definitely a point worth keeping in mind. Of course that willingness to work together takes different forms at different times - but we should always be willing to discuss both what common goals can help to build a strong progressive movement, and how to ensure that dividing lines between parties and issues don't get in the way.