I was chatting with former federal cabinet minister Lloyd Axworthy recently about electoral reform and he mentioned that, back in his day as an MP, the Liberals would release a Manitoba-specific platform, with a list of promises and positions on local issues.
He said the platform helped give the Manitoba MPs leverage around the caucus and cabinet tables when lobbying for cash or support for specific projects. And, I imagine it helped generate a little more local buzz about the election. The Manitoba Liberals were among the few provincial party wings to create a local platform.
I asked the local Liberals for copies of old Manitoba platforms, and it turns out the Grits released one in 2008. Its release coincided with the Lesley Hughes kerfuffle, and it earned barely a passing mention in the paper - a story the "size of a pack of cigarettes," said a Liberal source. That’s true. I’d forgotten all about it. It’s also unfortunate, since we’re always lamenting the lack of real debate over issues in elections.
At an event this Friday with most of the local Grit candidates, the Liberals are going to release a scaled-back version of their Manitoba platform, sort of local highlights from the new Red Book.
At the risk of getting too parochial, I wish all parties released a Manitoba platform. I’d venture they should address everything from pothole funding to Lake Winnipeg to the wheat board to Kapyong Barracks to crime.