For the first time since Dion was elected leader, we are starting to get some sense of cohesion and direction. Fair to absolve much of the initial confusion as simply a function of newness, but that reality has clearly come at a cost. Liberals needed a week, that in some ways suggests a turning point.
I have read some disagreement on the merits of delivering policy prior to an election. I think it important to be pragmatic, and not fall back on the conventional wisdom of holding your cards for maximum input. Objectively, Dion was in some serious trouble, and the immediate concerns should outweigh the more strategic approach. In other words, Dion desperately needed to put his stamp on a few issues, in a substantive way. An election is not a certainty, it is important to deal with the known, and we already know the attack lines.
Dion's crime proposals received generally favorable coverage. Apart from the actual policy, it allowed for something else to digest besides broken english and weak leadership, which had almost become obsessive. Banter between Harper and Dion puts the focus on the issue, and I would argue Dion garnered some credibility that was lacking.
Today's announcement illustrated that the Liberal strategists are thinking. Overall, today's environmental plan was ambitious, aggressive and allows for some contrast with the looming Conservative legislation. Pure speculation, but I think this announcement was predicated on some knowledge of what exactly the Tories will be proposing. Delivering the Liberal position first, prior to the budget, is sound in my view, because now we have a situation where we can do more than criticize. The Conservative plan will be received, as it relates to the Liberal plan, which allows us to possibly steal any momentum. Harper will have a harder time with intensity targets, when there is another plan for environmentalists to rally around. In addition, and I think this a stroke of genius, the Liberal plan relies on the private sector to foot the bill, while the Conservatives so far have used taxpayer money. Big government vs the market, interesting where both parties may fall.
Within the context of the policy initiatives, Liberals have the added bonus of confirmation that poll slippage has ended, which helps generate a new news cycle. The stabilizing landscape allows for some optimism, while simultaneously blunting the perceived Harper momentum. A lot of people debate the importance of polls, but I think they shape the media mindset, which trickles through our newscasts. The level at which people pay attention is a valid debate, but most people do pick up things here and there, which is why constant the tone of coverage has a general effect.
It's only one week, but this week was the first time that it appeared someone was minding the store, there was the appearance of thoughtful strategy, with the requisite meat on bones.