Rhetoric About Values Is the Poetry; Street-level Implementation Is the Prose

Tom AxworthyBy Tom Axworthy, Senior Fellow of Massey College, former principal secretary to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau from 1981 to 1984, in the Toronto Star, November 5

…William Watson, the noted economist from McGill, has worked through the 88 pages of the Liberal platform and counted 325 commitments, some grand but vague, such as embracing the Kelowna Accord for Aboriginals “in a way that meets today’s challenges,” others specific like “$25 million per year for restored youth service programs.”

But with 325 commitments, it is equally evident that the new government will need thinking of a high order: it will be necessary to create a strategic prime ministership in which Justin Trudeau’s time is allocated to the three or four priorities he most wants and needs to achieve. A second tier of critical issues (30 to 40) should be allocated to ministers and monitored, not run, by the centre. And a third tier which require a longer-range perspective, in which parliamentary committees, parliamentary task forces, and formal inquiries can do good agenda-setting work.

Sequencing, resource allocation, and implementation are crucial to policy impact. Rhetoric about values is the poetry, street-level implementation is the prose, but you need both to get your story across….

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One response to “Rhetoric About Values Is the Poetry; Street-level Implementation Is the Prose

  1. From somewhat more skeptical perspective, instead of ‘thinking of a higher order’ to deal ‘with 325 commitments’, the new government may end up resorting to what may be called the ‘Bieberization’ of Canadian politics.