CNS photo/Warren Toda, EPA

It's all in the evidence

  • January 8, 2015

As NDP leader Thomas Mulcair pointed out in a year-end CTV interview, January marks the start of a federal election year in Canada. Although voting is not expected for another 10 months, virtually every Ottawa eyelash flutter will be decoded for its electoral significance this year.

Our parliamentary system spares Canadians the worst of American-style perpetual political campaigning. Still, the advent of semi-fixed federal election dates has given us a modified form of, as Mulcair called it, the “long campaign.”

Perhaps from sheer youthful exuberance, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau burst out of the gate in the fresh hours of the year. Trudeau told an interviewer that his Liberals would be attacking the Conservatives for their failure to adhere to “evidence-based” policy making. This will apply particularly, he said, with regard to the recent prostitution legislation, which was adopted in late 2014.

“On prostitution, we need to make sure we’re basing our decisions on evidence,” he said.

It is, on its face, a statement that is impossible to disagree with. It’s like saying that when flying an aircraft, we should base our decisions on the sky being up. Short of being in the grip of unshakeable hallucinations, what else but evidence could our decisions be based upon? Even if it is true, as the Liberal leader asserts, that the government’s response was ideological, ideology itself emerges from particular evidence.

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