The Conservatives' politicization of the distribution of infrastructure funds and government websites is a story that is hitting them hard on one of their biggest weaknesses. But it is not yet a story that is highlighting why the public should trust Liberals to be better. While Canadians across the board will cringe at images like these, many will unfortunately think "a pox on all their houses, I can't trust any of them." Liberals need to reach these people and convince them that they are the only party that will truly put a stop to the nonsense in Ottawa and restore faith in government again. And in fact the Liberals have put the ideas out there to do just that.
Liberals proposed expanding the Gas Tax Transfer program to distribute infrastructure funds. This would have allowed the stimulus funds to be distributed faster and under an already established system of audit, administration and evaluation. Instead, the infrastructure program was completely politicized and the money is distributed with virtually no oversight by comparison.
Conservatives have spent tens of millions on partisan government advertising, while the Liberals have proposed to end the practice by having an independent advisory committee vet all ads.
Conservatives want to spend money recklessly with no one to watch over them, while the Liberals would strengthen the Parliamentary Budget Office's watchdog ability by making it independent.
But the media stories about the Conservative cheque fiasco don't mention any of the Liberal proposals. In fact some lazy reporting has claimed Liberals did the exact same thing (not true) or haven't proposed how they'd do different (also not true). That needs to be changed.
Every time Liberals are hammering the Conservatives for inaction, mismanagement or excessive partisanship they need to also get the message out of what they'd do different.
When they are talking Conservative stonewalling investigations and appalling secrecy, they can highlight the pledge to improve access to information laws.
When they are talking about Conservatives abandoning Canadians abroad they can mention how Liberals have promised to pass legislation ensuring that what happened to Suaad Mohamud would never happen to another Canadian and that, unlike the Conservatives, Liberals don't support having a Canadian child solider in Guantanamo Bay.
When Liberals are criticizing the Conservatives on the environment they should point to the party's plans on clean energy and a cap and trade system with hard caps. How real leadership would benefit Canadians economically and Conservative inaction costs us.
You get the point. But it would great to see in the future any article talking about the latest Conservative scandal having at least a couple lines saying "The Liberals have said if they are elected to government they would....". The Liberals put the ideas out there in many cases, but the bulkk of the media aren't biting. That isn't necessarily the Liberals' fault, but they need to do what they can to address this perhaps by talking up their own proposals more forcefully in press conferences, speeches, or press releases, alongside the sharp critiques of the Conservatives.
Now there are many parts of the next platform that the party doesn't want to reveal before a campaign and that's perfectly understandable (and I agree with that), but in those cases where Liberals slam Conservatives for something and want their counter-proposal(s) kept under wraps, even just a quick sound bite from Michael Ignatieff saying something along the lines of "rest assured, this would never be allowed to happen under our watch!" is worth a lot and would find its way into the media coverage.
When Liberals are just critical it might help to shake votes loose from the Conservatives, but not necessarily driving them back to the Liberals. Pure negativity also risks feeding the narratives spread about the Liberals being a party that opposes, but that has no ideas or identity of its own to distinguish itself from the government.
I know it's tough to get the media and public to pay attention to your ideas when you are in opposition, but Liberals succeeded with this before in the early 90s and I know the party can again.
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