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Politics, Life and Journalism in Northumberland County, Ontario

Local Liberals need to define Northumberland County agenda

It is most intriguing to watch the local Liberal candidates seeking the nomination for the riding as they rhyme off their resumes and announce their endorsements. Certainly, it is impressive on some level. Yet, what is truly lacking from Andrew McFadden, Kim Rudd and Christine Herrington is a public statement about their plans for Northumberland County.

True, party nominations are insular events. It is far more important to sell Liberal memberships and get those votes, than capture the public’s imagination.  And, it could be unfair to ask them to do more, since they are running for a Liberal position and only Liberal members will vote.

Still, they do have public websites and they do try to get their names in the news through public debates and events.

So, it would be great to see a Strategy for Northumberland County that included some specifics about what they will do to turn back the economic downturn, stop the loss of industry, introduce programs for farmers and the agriculture industry, helpthe unemployed, provide social services to deal with the new economic reality and so forth. Sure, there are allusions to these issues in the campaign literature and the websites, but nothing directly as to what they plan to do for us, the citizens that will ultimately vote for them. We need details.

Strategically, this would be risky. Conservative MP Rick Norlock and his fellow Tories might get a hold of such an agenda and plot to use it against the successful candidate. So, it may be bad to show their respective hand too early.

Yet, it may have a different affect. Mr. Norlock lacks his own vision for Northumberland. And, while he articulates all kinds of positions, those tend to be the party line. He fails to provide his strategic plan, engage with the community and he has no excuse. He holds is open houses and public meeting, but he never reports back on the outcomes and what he is going to do, in terms of specific policy initiatives for the county. In fact, it is his job to do so. A brave Liberal candidate may force him to be accountable and show his agenda or, at the very least, demonstrate his lack of one.

Election are no longer run during set campaigns. One thing the Conservatives have picked up from the American strategists is that the campaign never ends. Maybe it is time for Northumberland federal political hopefuls to take a page from this book. While the election has not been called, the campaign is already underway. And, Northumberland voters want to know what they can expect when th election date is finally set.

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