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A Tale of Two Documents

Posted on December 11, 2011

Liberals will meet in Ottawa in January to debate the values underpinning the Party. Policies should spring from values, and so the debate on values in Ottawa is important.

So far, there are two documents which Liberal attendees can review to decide this question: the Preamble of the Constitution, and the section The Liberal Mission Today, from the Background Paper drafted by the National President Alfred Apps.

Values in the Preamble of the LPC Constitution:

This is taken from the Preamble itself:

  • The Liberal Party of Canada is committed to the view that the dignity of each individual man and woman is the cardinal principle of democratic society and the primary purpose of all political organization and activity in such a society.The Liberal Party of Canada is dedicated to the principles that have historically sustained the Party: individual freedom, responsibility and human dignity in the framework of a just society, and political freedom in the framework of meaningful participation by all persons.
  • The Liberal Party is bound by the constitution of Canada and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and is committed to the pursuit of equality of opportunity for all persons, to the enhancement of our unique and diverse cultural community, to the recognition that English and French are the official languages of Canada, and to the preservation of the Canadian identity in a global society.
  • In accordance with this philosophy, the Liberal Party of Canada subscribes to the fundamental rights and freedoms of persons under the rule of law and commits itself to the protection of these essential values and their constant adaptation to the changing needs of modern Canadian society.
  • The Liberal Party of Canada recognizes that human dignity in a democratic system requires that all citizens have access to full information concerning the policies and leadership of the Party; the opportunity to participate in open and public assessment of such means, and such modifications of policies and leadership as they deem desirable to promote the political, economic, social, cultural and general well-being of Canadians.

Values in the Background Paper:

Section 2.2 of the Paper sets out a very interesting and detailed analysis of the foundation of Canadian liberalism. The Paper points out the the ideas driving our variant of liberalism are far more extensive than those set out in the Preamble to the Constitution.  See pages 5 – 9 of the Paper.

The following is a summary of the values in the Paper, each is discussed in some detail in the Paper itself:

  1. First, we believe not only in the dignity and worth of the individual, but in the absolute primacy and autonomy of individuals.
  2. We stand first and foremost for freedom. We believe that wealth is created and social progress is achieved when we unleash the full capacity of individuals to think and act.
  3. We believe in the human spirit and its unlimited potential – that every citizen is entitled to live in the conditions of personal security and opportunity that will enable him or her to optimize his or her potential to the fullest, regardless of age, sex, creed, race, sexual orientation or any other accident or incident of birth, culture or country of origin.
  4. We are not merely accepting of diversity. We believe that diversity is our strength, that immigration should be open, that social and cultural differences should be embraced and that tolerance and accommodation are the essential virtues of liberal society.
  5. We endorse pluralism over secularism because we believe both in freedom of religion and freedom from religion.
  6. We are capitalists, not socialists. We believe in the profit motive… We do not see labour and capital as inevitably opposed in interest.
  7. We believe in equality – quality before the law and equality of opportunity. Beyond property, civil and legal rights, we believe that the enhancement of the economic, social and cultural freedom of all Canadians is critical to ensuring a fair and equal chance for every citizen.
  8. Liberals believe in democracy and that its privilege imposes some duties on the citizen … We believe that Canadians should be given ever wider rights to participate in the political process, including through political parties, and that democratic institutions and processes need to be continually modernized and strengthened.
  9. We believe in the ‘servant state’, not the ‘nanny state’ of the left or the ‘watchman state’ of the right. We believe that the sovereignty of the state – its permissible scope of action – is dependent entirely upon the will of the people and circumscribed always by the rights of individuals. We believe that, while the state is precluded from interfering with the basic freedoms of its citizens without their consent, its proper role extends well beyond merely protecting its people from internal and external threats.
  10. The liberal way is the balanced middle road. We believe in the power of government to do good but that citizens must be vigilant to constrain and define the power of government by expanding the rights of individuals and promoting the strength of markets. As distinct from classical liberals, we do not believe that the government that governs best governs least.
  11. We are also the party of nation builders – the party of a strong national government.
  12. Liberals believe in free and fair markets.
  13. Liberals believe that public investment in the potential of its citizens is required because markets sometimes fail to deliver the goods necessary to optimizing their own performance… We understand that strategic public investment is what a mixed market economy is all about. We understand that Canadian competitiveness will be best assured best by having the most able (i.e. healthy, educated) workforce operating from the most efficient (i.e. energy, transportation and communications) platform.
  14. Liberals are also resolutely internationalist and multilateralist, committed to the continued progress of global civilization and to the enhancement of the human condition generally.
  15. At the core of everything, liberals are children of the enlightenment. We believe in the power of reason.
  16. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, liberals believe that inter-generational stewardship matters as a fundamental question of public morality.

Is this a reasonable outline of what being a Liberal who believes in liberalism is all about?
Any additions?
Join the conversation below…

Reposted from Curiosity Cat Blog

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