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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

FELDSTED: It’s hard to be a progressive … or … tossing money at this, putting a band-aid on that, and creating a new program (to distract from long-standing problems) is not working

These days it seems that many people, in particular younger people, no longer gravitate to traditional political parties. They think of themselves as ‘progressives’ and favour changing of our traditions, values and society in general.  If you inquire about what they stand for, they use the term progress.

I have nothing against progress. I have little desire to return to carrying water from a well, using kerosene lamps including maintaining the darn things, outhouses, scrubbing boards, houses with little or no insulation, wood stoves and many other things I grew up with.

However, progress requires a few things that progressives lack:

  1. Before we can move forward you have to understand where we are, and how we got there … we did not suddenly reach adulthood out of nowhere. We have a history, and have achievements and accomplishments, made over time
  2. As a society we have made many poor decisions. We have to know what they were, and what the results were, to avoid the same traps in future 
  3. We need some world experience, to make our own mistakes, and hopefully learn from them. Life is unpredictable and capricious. Whatever plans we have must consider illness, injury, demotions, job losses, natural catastrophes and other elements that can knock our plans sideways 
  4. We need practical experience with cause and effect. If we do “A” what results can we anticipate, and what are the results of a worst-case scenario. We need a plan “B” if things don’t work out as expected.

Progress does not well up out of thin air. You have to have some specific objectives and a plan to meet those objectives. It is called strategic planning and is in common use. We begin by establishing who we are and how we got here. That is not all that easy. Most of us don’t employ honest self-evaluation of ourselves, or our organizations.

Once we know who and what we are, we consider what we want to be. That is the easy part, but it will undergo a lot of change as we proceed.

The we need to map out a plan for getting from where we are, to where we want to be. What specific steps do we need to take to achieve our goals?

Whatever we are, we use resources – a facility, equipment, financing, manpower and management to list some. Now we have to look at how much of those resources we can free up to work on meeting our goals. That’s where the going gets sticky as we have to assign resources to each step we mapped out. It is where our goals start to shrink as we don’t have the resources to accomplish them all.  The result?  We need to make some hard decisions as to which are most important.

I don’t see much strategic planning by governments at any level. They seem to be swimming in a sea of ever-changing demands and choose objectives randomly. We have numerous problems that have been problems for decades. Tossing money at this, putting a band-aid on that, and creating a new program (to distract from long-standing problems) is not working.

We can’t wish our way to progress – it takes hard work and planning. Progressive too often stands for change, but change alone is inadequate to meet our needs. Change without an objective and direction is meaningless, empty, and unsatisfying. We have had many changes thrust on us recently, but those changes have increased, rather than diminished, social dissatisfaction and unrest.

That indicates we are on the wrong path.    

John Feldsted
Political Consultant & Strategist
Winnipeg, Manitoba


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