Andrew Coyne is upset. The Liberals may have a new leader. But he worries that they are pretending to be a left wing party:
This is not a “new” or “reinvented” Liberal party; it is not even the centrist party of recent memory. From the evidence of the convention, it is an almost parodically left-wing party, and even if, as expected, the leader ignores most of the members’ handiwork in drafting the platform, what has been coming out of his own mouth is not hugely dissimilar: a difference more of degree than direction.
The fact is that it's just too soon to know what is really happening in Montreal. However, there is hope in what Coyne finds frustrating -- national strategies:
A small sample of the resolutions before the convention (almost all of those proposed to date have passed) would include: a National Transportation Strategy, a National Energy Strategy, a National Grid Strategy, a National Manufacturing Strategy, several National Strategies for Childhood Development, a National Framework for Mental Health, a National Action Plan on Disability, a National Water Policy, a National Pharmacare Program, a National Youth Jobs Strategy, a Science-based Innovation Strategy and a Transformative Canadian Infrastructure Investment Plan.
Coyne worries that they would all cost money -- which is true. But they signal an entirely different approach to the federation. They would require consultation with the provinces -- something Mr. Harper hasn't done in eight years, even if his ads on the Canada Job Grant give the impression that consultation is standard Harperian procedure.
The truth is that Coyne doesn't buy Trudeau's argument that the middle class is struggling:
It’s simply not true that the middle class is in such dire circumstances as Mr. Trudeau claims. Real wages are at record levels; family incomes have been rising for the better part of two decades; average net worth, for all the talk of household debt levels, is also at an all-time high.
One assumes that he does buy the fiction that the average income for a family of four -- two adults and two children -- is $120,000 a year. If the Liberals really want to help the middle class, they'll have to become a progressive party. So far, there has been scant evidence that's who they are.