Monday, May 4, 2009

Is education the wisest focus?

Michael Ignatieff stood before Canadians Sunday to try and convince them he's feeling their every-man pain ... by reminding us all he's a professor.
Hit 'em with textbooks, he said in his convention closing speech Saturday.
Well, maybe he offered a bit more nuance:
"A recovery strategy must be a strategy for learning," he proposed for our ailing economy. He folded in the need for early childhood education, easier access to finances needed for post-secondary schooling, fighting illiteracy and improving the education system for Aboriginal peoples.
Smile and nod policy, all.
But will offering voters a lesson drive them to the ballot box?
I've never seen a poll that put education as a top issue of concern for voters. Right now it's the economy.
So yet another Liberal leader is proposing to fix the economy with indirect but expensive policies. It was incredibly difficult to link the Green Shift to economic prosperity because you can at no point say, "if I spend a dollar, you get a job." In this case, it's more like, "if I spend a dollar, you'll get an education, which should help you get a job - if they economy is good."
It's seems simple enough, but little more than "tax carbon, which you don't like, and save on income taxes, which you like."
It's good policy, but tough politics.
Like saying we need a green economy reached through an environmental focus, trying to tackle the economy through improved education makes sense. In an election campaign, however, it comes off as a dodge to the main issue.
It wasn't until Dion dropped the Green Shift and addressed the economy directly that even a breath of wind filled his campaign sails.
MI would also have to posit this professorial solution without sounding like a professor - arguably his biggest unconquered weakness.
Considering every speaker leading up to Michael's speech spoke almost exclusively about the need to win, I'm a bit surprised Liberals are willing to travel the winding road again.
Here's hoping it doesn't lead to the political wilderness.