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Perusing the papers this morning, I see that-at a time of increasing optimism among ordinary Canadians--there was considerable talk of a declining Canada and much doom and gloom at the Liberal thinkers conference yesterday.

I also see that Michael Ignatieff is being advised to revive the carbon tax and eliminate the deficit in four years. And that those dispensing the advice this weekend include several former public servants-the kind of people who've never been known for reining in spending on federal programs and who love the GST.

Normally, governments only look to public servants for platform advice when they are tired and plain out of ideas themselves. Which is not what you'd expect from an opposition party that is ready and raring to govern. Nor is it where one would expect an "internationally acclaimed academic" to turn for new ideas. Unless that former academic happened to be the leader of a party that has lost touch over the years with most of the real Canada-and the son of a bureaucrat himself.

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Without disparaging my former colleagues, public servants are pretty much the last place you'd want to look for advice if you were seeking to re-connect with young Canadians, not to speak of fashioning a winning election platform against Stephen Harper. And, regrettably, it's pretty much the last place a minority government of whatever stripe will look for advice following the next election.

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