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Closed doors and hidden agendas

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What is the surest way for someone to accuse a government of having a hidden agenda? Hiding one’s agenda.

What is the one thing the Conservative Party of Canada has been fighting off pretty much since it was amalgamated five years ago?

Allegations it has a hidden agenda.

Strange then that the party at its convention is once again going into hiding to debate the majority of the policy resolutions in private. Convention delegates are behind closed doors right now.

A handful of resolutions the party decides are good for public consumption will emerge from the policy debates today and be debated by the full delegation tomorrow in full view of cameras etc.

I wouldn’t dispute that there is some merit to being able to speak one’s mind without feeling like you’re on candid camera but this is a policy convention for one of Canada’s major political parties that shapes the direction of the party that just happens to be in government right now.

If you don’t want to be accused of having a hidden agenda then don’t go into hiding.

Besides it’s no secret that there are some members of the Conservative party who would like to see the party put forth a socially conservative set of policies. But there are also some members of the NDP in Manitoba who want Gary Doer and crowd to put forward a bunch of looney lefty policies.

Neither Stephen Harper nor Gary Doer tend to listen to the far right or left reaches of their party because they both know Canadians like centrist governments. Sometimes they lean a bit to the left and sometimes they lean a bit to the right but most of the time Canadians are comfortable sitting right smack dab in the middle.

So why try and hide the fringe elements from view? We know they exist. All hiding today’s policy debates really does is allow their critics once again to cry "hidden agenda."

So instead of watching a debate where many members of the party have vastly differing views on everything from privatizing health care to stiffer penalties for teenage thugs, where Canadians can see for themselves that the Conservative Party is a relatively well-balanced mix of center-right and right-right point of views, we get a closed door and we don’t get to see what’s being said and conspiracy theories abound.

But it’s their party. I guess they can hide if they want to.

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About Mia Rabson

Mia Rabson is a born and bred Winnipegger whose interest in politics seemed clear when she dressed up as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for Halloween in the 7th grade.

Her interest in writing was no surprise to her parents, who learned early in Mia’s life that no piece of blank paper — or wall, for that matter — was safe in her hands.

She holds an honours BA in English from Queen’s University, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and has completed a political journalism fellowship in Washington, D.C. with the Washington Centre for Politics and Journalism.

Prior to working for the Winnipeg Free Press, Mia briefly worked for the Detroit News in the paper’s Washington bureau.

Mia joined the Free Press team in February 2001, and in April 2001 was appointed to the Manitoba legislature bureau. In December 2004, she was appointed bureau chief at the legislature. She became the newspaper’s parliamentary bureau chief/national reporter in Ottawa in January 2008.

In 2008 she was nominated for a Michener Award with a team of reporters from the Free Press for its coverage of the province’s child welfare system.

She counts reliving the invasion at Dieppe, France, with veterans of the failed Second World War expedition and overcoming her fear of heights to touch the Golden Boy statue atop the Legislative Building among her favourite experiences as a reporter.

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