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Taking the eye off the day-to-day

Of course the big news over the weekend was Michael Ignatieff’s big Canada 150 Conference, where he got all these great minds together to talk about the future of Canada, and what we need to do by the 150th anniversary, a mere seven years away. And honestly, what’s been lacking in this era of minority governments has been any kind of foresight, or big picture, or anything other than just managing the day-to-day, and the horserace poll numbers of who’s up and who’s down, and when is a good time to call an election. Because as anyone who’s been paying attention for a while knows, there’s not a whole lot in the vision cupboard lately to draw from, unless of course you count Stephen Harper’s incrementally trying to move the centre more to the right.

Over the course of the weekend, they were warned of a declining Canada, and that the government is ignoring the Inuit. Most of all, however, they were given a thorough thrashing by former diplomat Robert Fowler, who let them have it about their foreign policy (or lack thereof), and how Canada has basically become irrelevant on the world stage thanks to the current government. Which of course puts Ignatieff and the Liberals in a delicate position as well – how do they respond to his criticisms without falling into a new series of Conservative talking point traps? Especially given Fowler’s criticisms of the way Canada is handling the Israel file (though why people still aren’t calling out Harper for pandering to his Christian Zionist base is beyond me).

And in the end, Ignatieff gave a speech and outlined some of his plans, which also look to me like a way to counter the Conservative assertions that this was a “spender’s conference.” Until of course they conveniently ignore that part of the message. And given that Ignatieff now has freezing corporate income taxes until Canada can afford to lower them further, I have no doubt the NDP will be crowing about how that was their idea that he’s now stolen.

(To get some flavour of the event, I recommend Aaron Wherry’s snarktastic observations, day one, day two and day three).

On the Afghan detainee front – in case you think it’s been forgotten – those new documents show that the troops were worried about abuse – some of them genuinely worried, especially because the Afghans don’t have our same standards of care for prisoners. The government, of course, says that any allegations are unfounded. Because you know, anything that doesn’t fit with their talking points must be wrong. (Meanwhile, the CBC is crowd-sourcing examination of those 2500 pages of redacted documents by putting them online.)

And in case you’ve missed it on the main page, I have a piece about just what’s been happening with that bill on reforming Canada’s Access to Medicines Regime (CAMR).

Up today – Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is set to announce the legislation he’s introducing on Tuesday in order to reform the Immigration and Refugee system. Also, his compatriot Stephen Fletcher will be making an announcement about Senate reform – or rather what I’m sure is going to be another unconstitutional stab at it.
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