Health care: Canadians are deeply attached to publicly funded, universal health care. The party with the most credible prospect of cutting patient waiting times, stopping creeping privatization and thwarting two-tier health care will have the widest appeal.
National unity: In Quebec, support for sovereignty is on the rise. The next prime minister must have the stature and skill to "sell Canada" in Quebec, and to win another referendum.
Poverty: Despite Canada's strong economy, child and aboriginal poverty, income inequality and homelessness remain stubbornly persistent. The next prime minister must offer hope to those left behind.
Cities: Despite winning some transit funding, and a share of the federal tax on gasoline, Canada's big cities still lack a reliable source of long-term finding, like a share of sales and income taxes. They need a champion.
Education: Canada's future prosperity hangs on a highly educated, adaptable workforce. We need to boost productivity by investing in university and college education, and worker training.
Foreign affairs: The next prime minister must champion Canada's sovereignty in security and trade issues with the United States. He must also project Canada's interests in the world by strengthening the military to help the United Nations keep the peace, and by increasing foreign aid.
The first one on health care is an outright lie and a coded endorsement of the Liberal Party's cynical defence of the status quo (or the NDP, should the Grits disappoint). Paul Martin and his friends at the Star may be deeply attached to the public health care monopoly for ordinary Canadians, but not for themselves; they can afford to buy their way off the waiting line. Too many people know someone who's died or suffered on that line to defend it any more.
For the second point: governments cannot offer people hope. They can offer money, but only the poor can offer themselves hope. Government can't buy, and doesn't want to buy, a change in attitude that might lead to people being less dependent on its munificence.
The third point on cities actually makes some sense, but it's for the provinces whose creatures the city governments are to decide.
The fourth point on education disguises the call for federal meddling in provincial jurisdiction under a pile of platitudes.
The fifth point on foreign affairs is subtle code for Yankee-bashing and submission of our foreign policy to the gaggle of tin-pot dictators and their effete European underwriters at the UN.
This paid political announcement has been brought to you on behalf of the Liberal Party. Thanks again for the heads-up on what's going into the Red Book Volume V.