Politics is a brutal place for serious people, particularly those who do well in other fields of life like the professions or business people in the market place. The pay is relatively low and the level of public scrutiny can be over the top. It is a huge sacrifice to leave a lucrative and satisfying career in the private sector to plunge into the often nasty hurly burly of politics. It is a wonder that so many people go into politics for relatively little reward to work the long hours – all without much public recognition or understanding of the individual sacrifices that are being made.
One such individual has been Manitoba Liberal Party Leader Jon Gerrard who has brought a keen intellect and sophisticated understanding of public policy to the political dialogue in this province. His party easily offered the best policy platform to Manitoba voters during last year’s election. Unfortunately for him, and the province, it did not translate into more seats in the legislature.
The situation reveals the tribal nature of politics in Manitoba. The Liberals, the most policy smart of the 3 major Manitoba political parties, don’t have much traction in rural Manitoba where they continue to be sideswiped by the now dead and buried gun registry fiasco. That policy farrago was originally implemented back in the 1990s by the federal Liberals to curry big city votes in Urban Toronto and Montreal, with lethal consequences for politicans in rural areas. The Conservatives, of course, remain a rural party which faces severe challenges in gaining more than a handful of seats in Winnipeg. Many believe that party was mortally damaged by a cynical micro-pandering election campaign platform that lacked any philosophical heft or consistency. You will hear that especially from their traditional voting base – the serious fiscal conservatives.
Those same fiscal conservatives may surprise themselves by closely examining what Manitoba’s third party has on offer.
Jon Gerrard recently addressed the Frontier Centre in Winnipeg and laid out a well thought out strategy for creating a better future in Manitoba. He was not afraid to talk turkey. In particular he addresses the “elephant in the room” challenge the province faces – the artificially high level of government spending in a small provincial economy – that tenuously underlies the illusion of a thriving successful province. Here is part of the promo for his talk at Frontier which summarizes a needed honest discussion that he is not afraid to engage –
“A new strategy is needed now which will end pandering to traditional interest groups and will focus government spending in areas which can either lead to major savings in government expenditures, or on areas which have large returns on investment to Manitoba, or do both.”
I highly recommend listening to Jon Gerrard’s talk. You will hear the intellectual leadership that is sorely missing in Manitoba politics.
For the link to his talk and related PowerPoint slides click here.