Liberals make big plans for something called ‘the social economy’

NationalPost.com – Opinion – Apparently Stephen Harper has been letting down the social economy.
Posted: March 23, 2010.   Kelly McParland

I have to confess I’m not very familiar with the social economy. I assume it’s different than the economic economy, but to be honest I’m just guessing. I’d never even heard the term until I came across it on the Liberal party web site, which declares that the party is working, beaverlike, to develop it.

Here’s what they’ve done. I tend to nod off when confronted by serious gobbledygook, so I can’t say I remained alert through all five paragraphs. Anyone who understands a word of it, or why the  “social economy” comes under the purview of the Liberal Critic for the Canadian Economic Development Agency for the Regions of Quebec, let me know:

OTTAWA – As Liberals look forward to the Canada at 150 Conference in Montreal next weekend, Liberal MPs are meeting today on Parliament Hill with key representatives of Canada’s social economy to discuss the challenges, success stories and vision for the future of Canada’s non-government organizations, charities and cooperatives.

“The social economy, encompassing the community, voluntary and social enterprise sectors of our economy, plays a key role in Canada’s social fabric,” said Alexandra Mendès, Liberal Critic for the Canadian Economic Development Agency for the Regions of Quebec. “Today’s roundtable invited social economy leaders from across Canada to foster ongoing dialogue and engage all partners as they develop and implement initiatives to support and develop the social economy.”

The roundtable is intended to engage social economy leaders in identifying needs and priorities for capacity-building and financing initiatives.  Moderated by Nancy Neamtan, President and Director General of the Chantier de l’économie sociale and Michael Toye, Executive Director of the Canadian CED Network, these two individuals bring a vast toolbox of expertise and experience in the field of the Canadian social economy.

In the 2004 Speech from the Throne, the previous Liberal government recognized the valuable and innovative work of those involved in the social economy and indicated its interest in supporting those engaged in this entrepreneurial social movement. Likewise, in Budget 2004, the previous Liberal government committed to making the social economy a key part of Canada’s social policy tool kit, building on the work it had already done to support community economic development by allocating $132 million for initiatives to support the social economy.

“Once the Harper government was elected, the social economy was left by the wayside,” said Ms. Mendès. “Even though this is a non-partisan event and all MPs and Senators were invited, our hope is that participation will raise awareness of the importance of introducing some specific proposals into the Liberal platform.  That’s why we’re working with social economy leaders from across Canada to agree on priorities so that we can identify new policy initiatives.”

Kelly McParland

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