Saturday, October 06, 2012

Justin Trudeau, heed the advice of Dan Gardner from The Ottawa Citizen

Dan Gardner's challenge to Trudeau

Dan Gardner has some very valid advice for any government led by Justin Trudeau – put our money where our mouth is when it comes to policies based on “hard, scientific facts and data”:


Announcing his candidacy for the Liberal leadership, Justin Trudeau got a round of applause when he declared that, in seeking solutions to problems, “the only ideology that must guide us is evidence. Hard, scientific facts and data. It may seem revolutionary in today’s Ottawa, but instead of inventing the facts to justify policies, we will create policy based on facts.”…

Make randomized trials and cost-benefit analyses of new policies universal and mandatory. 

Create a system for systematically subjecting existing programs to the new standards.

Ensure that every scrap of evidence is made freely available to all in a single information clearing house.

Also, create the Canadian equivalent of the United States Government Accountability Office.


The best way to do that may be to greatly expand the remit and budget of the auditor general or the Parliamentary budget officer. Or perhaps it would be best to create a separate “evaluator general,” as some have suggested.

In addition, there needs to be far greater support for independent policy analysis in universities and think-tanks.

All that will cost a lot of money. Pay it. This country suffers from a dearth of serious policy analysis in part because governments — Conservative and Liberal — have treated it as a frill and funded it accordingly. It’s not a frill. It’s essential.

It won’t do away with confirmation bias. But a large and growing supply of top-quality evidence produced by credible sources would improve public discussion and make it increasingly difficult for politicians to peddle nonsense supported by piffle.


The Liberal Party should adopt Gardner’s suggestions at its 2014 policy convention.

If the LPC under Justin Trudeau is to practice the ‘new politics’he has promised, this would be a very good place to start.

Oh, and, of course, fixing our democratic deficits.

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