What if we had an election about ideas? Based on what we have seen so far in the precampaign, one could be forgiven for not being too optimistic about the prospect. Recent coverage of federal politics has focused largely on defections, retirements and shuffles, usually in terms of what they mean for the fortunes of parties and leaders. We tend to hear a whole lot less about what role Ottawa should play in a 21st century health care system, for instance, or the lessons we can draw from Europe’s challenges regarding immigration and integration. Indeed, “who’s up and who’s down?” often seems to be a more pressing question than “what’s wrong and what can we do about it?”
Yet there is no shortage of complex policy issues that demand our attention. From income inequality and our aging population to reconciliation with Aboriginal peoples, responding to terrorism, and the uncertainty of the global economy, Canada’s next government—regardless of its political stripe—will face daunting policy challenges. Its responses to them will have significant consequences for growth and prosperity, social cohesion and the strength of the Canadian federal community.
How to address issues like these is the question we put to our authors: what policy issue would they put on the public agenda, and what prescription would they advise? Each author made a convincing case for not just the importance of the issue but for how it should be resolved. We hope that some of what appears in these pages will find echoes in the upcoming campaign. That these issues must be addressed is indisputable. Coming to a decision on how best to address them is what the electoral campaign is supposed to be about.
In closing, let me take the opportunity to thank most sincerely our former editor, Bruce Wallace, who recently moved on to open a new chapter in his career. During his time with us, Bruce successfully reimagined Policy Options and launched its transition into digital space. We wish him all the very best as he returns to journalism in Washington, DC. I would also like to welcome to the IRPP team award-winning author and journalist Dan Gardner, who will take the helm of Policy Options starting with the next (May-June) issue. Dan’s plans for PO are as ambitious as they are innovative. As readers and supporters of evidence-based policy-making, we are definitely in good hands.