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Federal Liberals decide to start 3-day congress, focusing on COVID-19 and next budget – National




Thousands of federal Liberals will gather online Thursday night for the start of a three-day national congress that promises to be completely dull compared to similar events held by the Conservative and New Democratic parties.

And that suits the Liberals quite well.

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They hope Canadians will see a ruling party focused on the serious politics of the day – the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy, climate change, social security network, systemic racism – without any war or controversy troubling the Conservative Congress this month. past and that threatens to similarly dominate the NDP congress this weekend.

Priority policy resolutions for debate and vote in the Liberal Assembly include calls for basic universal income, applicable national standards for long-term care homes, and a green economic recovery.

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Nothing on the agenda is as potentially harmful as the Conservatives’ internal quarrel over the place of the Social Conservatives among them or their refusal to accept a resolution that climate change is real; nothing is as potentially divisive as the New Democrats’ initial struggle over the definition of anti-Semitism or as radical as their proposed resolutions on the abolition of the military and the nationalization of major automakers.

Click to play video: 'Basic Universal Income: Can a Pandemic Make It a Reality?'

Basic Universal Income: Can a pandemic make it a reality?

Basic Universal Income: Can a pandemic make it a reality? December 5, 2020

The biggest uproar in the Liberal virtual event is likely to be around Mark Carney, the former governor of the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England, and whether his appearance at the congress signals a goal to finally immerse himself in partisan politics.

“Sounds pretty soft, doesn’t it?” novice chuckles Toronto MP Marci Ien, one of congressional co-chairs.

“But I have to say that mitigation is not a bad thing.”

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While the Conservative convention presented an effort to take over from anti-abortion forces within the party, Ien says Liberals will talk about how the pandemic has hit women the hardest and how to secure a “secret” economy.

And while the Conservatives voted against a resolution recognizing that climate change is real, she says the Liberals will hear from Carney, now the UN special envoy for climate action and finance, and Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, a prominent environmentalist before jumping into politics, on what needs to be done more to combat the environmental crisis.

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There will also be panels and seminars on systemic racism, Indigenous Reconciliation, agriculture and the protection of Canadians during the ongoing pandemic, among others.

“These are the things we’re focusing on, that we think are important,” says Ien.

On Thursday evening, the convention will feature a conversation between Chrystia Freeland, the current finance minister who is preparing to give a budget for just over a week that will drop in historic amounts of red paint, with Paul Martin, the former Liberal Finance minister (and prime minister) who mitigated what now appears to be a relatively weak deficit in the 1990s.

Registered Liberals will also hear all about how to run a secure campaign if their minority government falls or provokes elections during the pandemic. Most of those tips, from various panels sprayed over three days, will not be for public consumption.

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But there will be an open session on running a virtual campaign with two veterans of last fall’s US presidential campaign: Caitlin Mitchell, senior digital ticket advisor to Biden-Harris, and Muthoni Waambu Kraal, former political director and organizer National Democratic Committee.

The convention itself will be completely virtual, proving the party’s ability to appeal to Canadians without normal looks or hoops attending personal conventions.

Click to play video: 'How the pandemic is affecting the latest business titles including the future federal budget'

How is the pandemic affecting recent business titles including the future federal budget

How is the pandemic affecting recent business titles including the future federal budget

Ien says the pandemic-driven digital convention has one good thing: it is allowing people who may not have been able to afford travel and hotel bills to attend from the comfort of their own homes. The result is the largest political convention in party history, with more than 4,000 Liberals registered to attend as of Wednesday and more expected to join.

It’s also forced congress organizers to find innovative ways to engage virtual delegates. Ien, who will host a conversation Friday night with Carney, says she intends to use Instagram to ask questions to give to the former central banker.

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One question is undoubtedly on the mind of most Liberals: Will Carney run for party in the next election?

“I’ll ask him and let him know that there are a lot of people asking, including you,” Ien says.

© 2021 Canadian Press

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