Thursday, January 11, 2007

Layton's Time

Ever since Layton managed to bring the Clean Air Act to committee I have been conflicted. At first, I applauded Layton and later became increasingly concerned. What caused my skepticism, Harper's repeated, relatively positive, references to the NDP. Harper's purposeful attempt to separate the NDP from the other opposition parties made me increasingly suspicious of just what exactly was at play here. Coupled with Layton feeling the environmental squeeze from other parties, and you have a dangerous formula.

Having said that, after listening to Layton the other day on The Hour, as well as recent comments, I am swinging back to the "cautiously optimistic" camp. During the informal interview Layton shined, in the sense that partisan language was absent from his comments. This was the principled, genuine Layton that is too often overshadowed by bluster. The bottomline, Layton cares about the environment on a fundamental level. His voice reveals real concern that goes beyond the political arena. It for that reason that I see a glimmer of hope in this dance with Harper.

Layton's language is increasing assertive:
"I wanted to urge Mr. Baird to be ready to take some dramatic action. His government has got to have a sea change in the way they approach this issue of climate change," he told reporters.

"we want to see very tough and strong action on the biggest polluters. . . . I spoke to him about how we've got to stop subsidizing big oil and gas companies with tax dollars and start putting money into solutions."

"What we will do is try to craft a piece of legislation on climate change that's strong and reflects the urgency of the situation, that addresses auto emissions, big-polluter emissions, subsidies to oil and gas, and starts to get us moving on solutions."

Someone has to take the government "out to the woodpile" on climate change because "they don't get it," Mr. Layton said. "And we are prepared to do that."


I think it encouraging that Layton isn't conciliatory, and is actually quite aggressive. You don't here the "something is better than nothing" speak, which is code for half-measures. Listening, and reading, Layton, it might just be the case that he is completely unprepared to throw the Conservatives a lifeline, unless it is deserved. Indirect threats to topple the government on this file raises the stakes, which may cause Harper to blink. Do the Conservatives really want an election, with this issue centerstage and largely unresolved?

It will be interesting to see how things unfold. Time will tell if Layton stays true to the rhetoric, but hopefully he has the courage to walk away if need be, or better yet, actually help craft a real agenda. Partisanship aside, we should all hope that Layton pulls it off. This is your moment Jack, let's see if it's the calculating peacock, or the principled environmental caretaker that wins the day.

4 comments:

Scott Tribe said...

I've said over my way that if you were to read the NDP's site, they published a list of amendments in November of last year they wanted to add to the Clean Air Act. There were 12 of them.

I would think Jack need to get a majority of those enacted (including 3 that I know the Tories will object to) before he can take it to his base and the Canadian electorate and claim that he got what he was after.

knb said...

We all want to get something done, no two ways about it.

The problem I have with Layton is he only changed his tune, (toned down the rhetoric), when his support started to slip.

It was reported that his caucus lambasted him.

I just don't trust him anymore.

I hope he sticks to principle, but I haven't seen it so far.

Bailey said...

I find it interesting that John Baird is now the Environment Minister. He was able to work with the NDP to get the Accountability Act passed in the house. He was able to get the vote and work with Pat Martin. It will be interesting to see if he can do the same and go 2 for 2 with working with NDP.

Steve V said...

"It was reported that his caucus lambasted him."

Maybe that is the key knb. As Scott said, he will need the support of the rank and file, and you would have to think they won't accept half-measures to bailout Harper.