As memories of Harper slowly fade, what’s next?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Photo illustration of Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau

It’s winter in Ottawa and we’re trudging through the snow and the cold — like we do. But somehow people have a little extra spring in their step. Ask them, and there is only one explanation: Justin Trudeau. After 10 years of destruction, defunding and attacks under Harper, we can all breathe a little easier.

One hundred days into the Trudeau government, we’ve been sitting back and enjoying life because frankly, the Liberals have promised to fix the damage: health care, pensions, climate change, workers’ rights, even democracy itself. Everything seems possible again.

We got rid of Harper. So we’re done... right?

Wrong. We’ve all earned a big sigh of relief after a near-decade of Harper.  But “not being Harper” and showing a little human decency is too low a bar. It’s time to set out higher expectations for our federal government. That means we need to be more active than ever and run smart campaigns to pressure the Trudeau Liberals to implement the change they have promised.

And to turn hope into progress, we need to do more than just hold the Liberals to their promises. The Liberal platform was vague, missing important planks and in some places just plain heading in the wrong direction. We need to advance our own agenda.

So sharpen your pencils, fire up your laptops and notify the rank and file. The celebration is over. It’s time to get back to work. What is your priority for the next four years? How will you work to achieve it?

Progressive people have always had to push all governments to make real change. Boutique programs are easy. Real and lasting change is hard. Let’s give the government a helping hand by defining what we want: real solutions to save public health care. Public pensions that mean everyone can retire with dignity. Setting and meeting targets to fight climate change. An economy that makes good jobs a priority.

A few reminders about what makes a good campaign:

It has a clear message that connects to your audience and offers a solution.

It’s emotional, not an avalanche of information.

It tells a story to shape opinion.

It’s based on opinion research, not guesses about what’s persuasive and what isn’t.

In four years we will measure this government not by what they have said but by what they have done. Will we be better off in four years? Only if we keep working for the change we desire... and only if we hold the Liberals’ feet to the fire.