Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Challenge To Conservatives

Scanning the blogs, it is interesting that every post I read on the new Green Plan has the requisite Tory apologist hurling invective. I'm just wondering, is it possible when someone questions the merit of the plan, if the retort can cobble together one simple sentence, without a reference to the Liberal Party or the past? I know it's hard, because afterall, even the Conservative platform mentions the Liberals before it does policy, but let's break new ground shall. ACCOUNTABILITY means just that, so please show some responsibility and stop deflecting your own embarrassments, on every issue imaginable, and step up like adults. Can Conservatives make a salient point without using the standard crutch, that really has nothing to do with the NOW? It's your time, your government, your policy, your failures, your scandals, your problem. Thanks.

21 comments:

Ti-Guy said...

on every issue imaginable, and step up like adults.

Hope springs eternal, eh?

The defining characteristic of current conservatism is its profound childishness, born out of a the poor socialisation that the narrow experiences of modern North American life provide.

When talking to righwingers my own age, I find myself feeling parental towards them. God, who needs that?

Anonymous said...

Steve,

I am not entirely clear, but I am hearing that you want conservative green plan supporters to comment positively on Baird's announcement without getting too partisan.

I'll take a shot at it.

I need to identify one assumption that I am making and that is that meeting Kyoto will deeply, negatively affect the Canadian economy both in the short term and mid-term, without helping the earth, essentially at all. (i.e. 2% of GHG belching reduced to 1.5%, over the next 5 years, rather than 12 years)

That being said, I think Baird is trying to find common ground with what is do-able and what is helpful without damaging Canada.

He is using Kyoto targets to streamline our programming into the future without trying to fill the government tax basket; and by making use of the tools that already exist within the federal government, primarily, but not exclusively, over at EC.

The program includes our continuing involvement with the Kyoto group, it opens a new dialogue with US, India and China; the three biggest worries over the next 20 years, and keeps Canada's economy vibrant enough to contribute to and implement what will assuredly be a technological solution in mitigating this environemntal menace. The earth may have other mechanims that it will use, but this is beyond our knowledge, control or scope of this discussion.

The solution must be global. Canada must be seen as part of the solution, this package does that.

His avoidance of international carbon trading, an internal government bloating carbon tax, and stealing the authorities of the provinces can all be argued as good things at this point in time.

Tomm

Steve V said...

Thanks Tomm.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

I need a modify one of my statement's. Since Baird is not using Kyoto bases, the 2% turning into 1.5% over 5 years remains the difficult Kyoto target, but Baird's solution will be less, perhaps 0.3% improvement over 12 years, rather than 0.5%. I haven't tried to tackle the math.

I hope your post works. There is a polarization that is unnecessarily occurring over this topic.

Tomm

Prairie Kid said...

I need to ask a few questions. I've asked before but nobody want to give me an answer. This is not about who did what.

What has changed in the last 3 - 5 years in the environment that has now given us this doom and gloom attitude?

Where were the Suzuki's and Gores 3 - 5 years ago?

Where was the outrage 3 - 5 years ago?

In 2001, when The David Suzuki Foundation blamed the Liberal government for inaction where was David Suzuki confrontation with the Environemt Minister? Where was his cross Canada diesel bus trip?

I'll give you my answer and you can agree or disagree with me.

The only thing that has changed is the government.

Gayle said...

Those parroting Baird's "13 years of liberal inaction"/"these are the toughest measures ever taken by a Canadian government" stance are conveniently ignoring political reality.

The fact the liberals had a majority does not negate the role of the opposition, and the effect the opposition has on the electorate. We can justifiably point fingers at the liberals for not doing enough - that much everyone agrees with, but we are judging their history by today's standards. Strong, tough measures to address climate change was simply not palatable to the majority of Canadians during the liberals' tenure. Any attempt to introduce stronger measures would have been met by the conservatives' claim that climate change is a myth/strong measures will paralyze our economy. Given that the liberals were bringing Canada out of a recession, one can see how they would be wary to introduce strong environmental controls during an era where many people did not believe in the environmental "crisis" coupled with fears of how any action would cripple the economy. It matters not that they had a majority if they believed the conservatives would gain popular support over their opposition to stronger regulations.

It was Gore's movie that really started turning the tide in terms of popular support for action on climate change.

The Edmonton Journal had an interesting editorial yesterday. While it was praising the conservatives, the editorial noted that it is much easier for the conservatives to take action than it ever was for the liberals - because the liberals faced a strong opposition to any action, and the conservatives face an opposition that says they are not doing enough.

Gayle said...

prairie kid

My answer to your question is in my post above.

For many years, people like myself did not take climate change seriously. I always called myself a supporter of the environment, but truth be told I simply did not WANT to believe we were reaching a crisis level. I still do not want to, but I now recognize the folly of burying my head in the sand and pretending it does not exist.

Many people are now waking up to the reality of this crisis. I live in Edmonton, and have friends in the oil and gas industry. These people are showing their children "An Inconvenient Truth" because they want them to be aware. They want a good life and a clean planet for their children and grandchildren.

Suzuki was always there - we just were not listening.

Stephen said...

Gayle's right. Suzuki has been consistently warning us for a couple of decades now.

ottlib said...

Good post Steve and accept for Tomm the silence is thunderous.

Tomm, the Baird plan is incredibly weak. It proposes to meet our Kyoto targets 13 years after the agreed upon deadline. By then the rest of the world will have moved on. Kyoto will be a memory. All of the industrialized world will have acheived reductions in ghg emissions way beyond what Mr. Baird is proposing. That includes the US and Australia, two non-signatories to the Kyoto Protocol. The US by accident as a result of actions by state governments. Australia because their is growing pressure on its government to take steps to reduce ghg emissions because of a persistent drought in that country's agrarian heartland. The price of which is believe is $30 billion and growing.

According to Stephen Harper one of the reason why Canada is involved in Afghanistan is to show we are a world leader in the fight against terrorism. Well, the world is also very concerned about global warming and this government has shown that Canada does not want to lead in the fight. I agree with Stephen Harper that Canada should be a world leader but we cannot be that by cherry picking the global issues with which to lead.

You state that the solution to global warming is global. What do you think the Kyoto Protocol is? It is a global agreement, signed by 140 countries and a matter of international law. It is collective effort by these countries to reduce global ghg emissions. It is supposed to be a first step that will lead to more collective efforts, including bringing some of the recently developed and still developing world on board.

The Baird plan runs counter to that global effort. It is not part of the solution and its intensity targets could actually make it part of the problem.

The Kyoto Protocol, imperfect as it is, represents the only real collective effort to reduce ghg emissions. Effectively walking away from it, as the Baird plan does, means Canada will be left behind and it is not the actions of a country that aspires to be a world leader.

ps Tomm. I echo Steve's sentiments with regard to leaving the partisanship out of your comments. Your arguments are clear, cogent and well presented. The fact that I disagree with them is not a reflection on you. It is an honest disagreement between two reasonable people.

Prairie Kid said...

Gayle. I must disagree with you. Suzuki wasn't there. Sure he said a few things through his foundation but there was no outrage like there is now. And I also disagree with you about the last 3 years. The fact is that the environment hasn't really changed so much that it's now life or death. It's the politicians and the media that have made it the number one concern of Canadians. The last election less than 2 years ago was fought on healthcare. The politicians convinced the media that healthcare was in crisis and the media went with it. Now it's the environment. Have the healthcare problems fixed themselves? Of course not. All the concerns we had 2 years ago about healthcare are still there. Unfortunately (and you can call me biased) most media is liberal and has liberal leanings. There are a couple of pro-conservative media but the vast majority will take a left-leaning side rather than a right-leaning side. Matter of fact just today on Question Period Jane Taber basically said to John Baird, how can you agrue with an Acadamy Award Winning man like Al Gore. She mentioned it at least twice in the interview. Try as I might, I can't see what winning an Acadamy Award has to do with reality.

Anyway, I don't think you can convince me that things would be different with a Liberal government in place. I know that David Suzuki wouldn't have gone across the country and Al Gore wouldn't have said a word.

Anonymous said...

Gore's movie (Hollywood's contribution) did have a lot to do with the present public awareness in North America and hence political immediacy. Ironic isn't it.

We should watch the US Primaries with interest to see how much traction this issue gets.

In regards to how fast Canada should accelerate, I don't agree that Kyoto is the only driver. Perhaps if we had begun seriously to implement items back in 1997, but we didn't. Even given that, I'm not sure I am on board, Kyoto remains horribly flawed.

I know that my electricity supplier "greened up" between 95 and 97 and is now loathe to reach another level because their efforts at that time can not be now used as a springboard (unlike Eastern Europe). It's an interesting aside.

We are agreeing in principle, but disagreeing on the degree of compliance.

The level of rhetoric is much too shrill right now. It is my view (and Steve's too if I can use this topic as an indication) that it needs to become less partisan.

Tomm

Steve V said...

"The fact is that the environment hasn't really changed so much that it's now life or death."

Maybe you should compare the conclusions from five years ago and now, because the projections are far more serious and sudden. Couple that reality with the rise in public awareness, and it is simply intellectually naive to say nothing has changed. Ask the foresty industry in British Columbia if much has changed in the last five years? Why not ask Australian farmers if much has changed in the last five years? How about the NOAA agency in America? I'm sure they would beg to differ.

Scotian said...

Gayle brings up a very important consideration that everyone dumping on the Libs inaction wants to forget(or make sure others do). They faced a couple of things the current government does not, coming out of a recession while popular belief in the need for immediate action was low in the public and the attendant needs to be careful for both political and economic reasons (while she did not mention them, if the government had gone on a major tear the political rhetoric could well have impacted the economic recovery) and instead of an opposition fighting them on the issue they face a united opposition saying they are not doing enough. It is also important to recall what people like Baird and Harper and Day and all the rest of the CPC government were saying while the Libs were in power whenever this issue was raised. I remember hearing many times the economy killer argument, the recession argument and all that we heard a couple of weeks ago from Baird years back from Harper and company. So why are they not to be equally held responsible for their actions to block any Liberal attempts at all and it is only the Liberals fault? While yes they had majority in a democracy the political environment can be significantly affected by a strong/loud minority, which is part of the point of democracies after all.

I will be the first to admit the Libs sucked a lot on this file, although they were getting better at the end, but then we all know how that ended up. If Martin had been in power just until the point he pledged to call elections it is entirely likely that the Liberal green plan of Dion's would have been enacted, something the Harper CPC were bitterly opposed to at the time. Under Chretien the main thrust was reviving the economy and fiscal health of the nation for long term social reinvestment sustainability, and then Martin as PM appeared to be finally willing to start really restoring funding which was also called vote buying at the time as I recall (Which to a certain extent is inherently true, but that is also the case with any spending a government does domestically, true?). Harper on the other hand only became a convert after Dion won the Liberal leadership, he moved because of tactical political reasons. He saw that over the past year or so the issue had "heated up" pardon the pun, and that with the election of Dion the Libs could potentially kill him at the polls if he did not reverse himself and suddenly appear supportive of Kyoto and the idea of manmade global warming and try to at least minimize any attempts to do something instead of stopping them altogether as we have seen from him in the past until this latest "epiphany" of his since becoming PM.

CPCers have a lot of credibility problems on this file precisely because of all this opposition until clearly political considerations forced a change. Harper in particular does since his was the leading anti-Kyoto political voice in this country from the moment we first signed it. This is why if to have any credibility on this file they needed to bring out a clear rational and consistent with how other first world countries are dealing with Kyoto level actions, and this new plan does nothing of the sort. The impacts of those like Gore and Suzuki with those that are not of the political class (like every one of us that does political blogging for example) should not be trivialized, as the strong defence by Baird against Gore should tell those CPCers trying to do so.

There appears to be a lot of partisan deception surrounding this file, and it should come as no shock that the worst offender is Harper's CPC. Given that they are clearly the most partisan party we have ever seen in government at the federal level in many decades if not in our entire history that should also come as no surprise. Just for the record at this point I would underscore that the preceding statement does not claim that other parties are not partisan on this file and other files at all, just to lesser extents. The problem is that this is a government that lives first for partisanship and second for policy, and that is something that cannot be trusted (as the GOP and especially Bushco have demonstrated and is finally being exposed publicly for what it truly is), especially on such a serious issue as this on their word alone, no there needs to be much more than that. This plan does not appear to provide this, and I suspect that politically it is well on the way to the same place as the original Clean Air Act ended up with the voting public if nothing else.

P.S.

I will add one last comment, I agree Tomm is the only CPC defender here that actually did as Steve V asked and that is to be commended. I do not want my personal refusal to deal with him as a rule to be taken as not recognizing that he is different from the bulk of CPC voices. My problem with him come from problems with dealing with those that buy into things like liberal media bias, on the principle that no matter how good the reasoning skills are if the underlying precepts/assumptions are false then the end product is inherently so as well. He is certainly one of the most civil and well mannered of the CPC voices around even if some of the company he keeps/agrees with is not, and I can well appreciate why others are willing to debate with him on a regular basis. I agree he comes across as sincere in his beliefs; it is not his sincerity I question but his ability to critically examine his own basic assumptions/beliefs, especially in the political context.

wilson said...

IMO the matter on Kyoto is past the debate stage.

The Government of Canada will not meet the Kyoto targets.

The opposition parties with and without seats in the House, not for profit special interest groups, American film maker... are all 'Kyoto or bust'.
It's a pile on.

The opposition parties are fiercely against EVERY policy, appointment and recommendation made by PMSH, Libs promise to reverse them all, and they believe, for good reason.

It is time for Canadians to decide.
If they agree with Gore and Suzuki and no less than Kyoto, PMSH and the CPC should not be governing this country.

It's that simple.

Olaf said...

Might as well chime in here,

First of all, the notion that it was the dastardly opposition that somehow bullied 3 majority Liberal governments into inaction seems delusional to me. It seems that we've had a minority government for so long that many have forgotten the power that a majority government (especially with a heavily divided opposition) weilds. Can we all stop pretending that if Chretien and the Liberals were the believers that they like to portray themselves (by virtue of signing a treaty and ignoring it entirely) that they somehow were prevented by a some 70 odd Reform MPs from acting?

I mean, I understand the desire to be apologists, to say that the Liberals didn't do as much as they should have but hey, not everyone in Parliament agreed with their eco-righteousness, as if they couldn't have passed whatever legislation they wanted. So maybe drop that line.

The more salient fact was that Chretien was smart enough to understand that the public wasn't ready for the changes necessary to meet the targets (whether they're now ready, we really don't know), which believe it or not would have affected the economy if implemented in earnest.

I mean, it's one thing to say that the Liberals would have acted if only the public was ready, but that doesn't really jive with Dion's assertion that such action will actually make us money. Since when were Canadian's not ready to implement such a painless earth saving plan? Since when were they not ready to earn more money? Was everyone who just experienced a recession weary of the imminent economic growth that Dion now promises, considering that the growth from getting in at the "ground floor" would have been exponentially greater 10 years ago.

The funny thing about this thread, is that while you demand that Conservatives defend the governments efforts, you tolerate the myth that the poor, bullied Liberals did what they could under the circumstances. As much as many Liberals would like to admit their embarrassing performance, and move on (I could you Steve as one of them), there are still others that want to somehow suggest that they were just the victims of circumstance. Like Ottlibs hilarious "good faith" argument.

Surely, if Conservatives aren't allowed to reflect on past failures, then Liberals shouldn't be allowed to apologise for past failures and extol non-existent past virtues. It's like a lawyer demanding that the prosecution cannot bring up the past criminality of the defendant, however that the defence can mount a sustained rewriting of the defendants history.

So, I mount a counter challenge, which I have before made:

I would like to officially challenge any Liberal party supporters who in the slightest way value their credibility, to unconditionally cram it for at least 12 years (preferably longer), unless every criticism of the of the Conservative environmental plan is prefaced with the following preamble: "Although one would need creativity-unmatched to possibly conceive of any environmental plan that would constitute a more miserable or categorical failure than our own..."

If Conservatives are supposed to just sit back and take self righteous criticism by those who are so deluded as to somehow put a positive spin on the Liberal record, perhaps such a preamble would be an exceptable compromise.

In your last thread, Ottlib found it perfectly reasonable, and enkeeping with good faith, that the Liberal government took 6 years "negotiating" with industry. However, can you imagine the outrage if the Conservatives took the same 6 year negotiation grace period? I think this is the point that Tomm was getting at.

Quite simply, the reason that many Conservatives take issue with criticisms from Liberals, is because it comes off as so fucking hypocritical. It would be as if Harper lost power next year, and following an Oscar winning film which documented the plight of Canadian Indians on reserve, began a sustained attack on the failure of the new Liberal government to properly fund Native groups. And then the Liberal would be like "well, you fucking ignored the entire situation during your term in office", and then a Conservatives said "hey, lets not dredge up past - you need to defend your failure to solve the problems of aboriginals NOW". It would be a jagged pill to swallow.

Steve V said...

"you tolerate the myth that the poor, bullied Liberals did what they could under the circumstances."

I don't tolerate any myth, you know that I've called out the Liberal failures on the environment. I didn't vote Liberal last election precisely because of this point, and I've also been accused of being a "bad Liberal" for criticizing.

BTW, you failed badly, typical dodge and weave, blame the Liberals. I've stopped looking the rear view mirror, maybe you should as well, and concentrate on the joke that is the Tory Green Plan, no previous reference point required. This plan stinks on its own merits, plain and simple. Just because someone did nothing for 10 years, doesn't mean you are excused for doing nothing in the next 15 (I'm being generous).

Olaf said...

Steve,

As I made clear to point out, I wasn't referring to you as a typical apologist. I was more speaking to the crowd, who while agreeing that nothing should be said about the Liberal record by Conservatives, also agreed that they should defend such a pitiful record.

I'm not defending the Tory plan, I'm simply attempting to point out the delusions of Liberal supporters, who seem to think that because the opposition during their 3 majority governments wasn't onside, it's an excuse for producing even less rigorous legislation than the current government.

You seem to have skipped over my analogy altogether which I think nicely expresses the frustration that many feel with the Liberals convenient conversion to saviours of the planet.

ottlib said...

olaf:

You miss my point completely with regard to my "good faith" argument. Or to put it more accurately I believe you get it but you are willfully denying you get it.

As for the argument that Conservatives cannot criticise past Liberal actions or inactions such is not acceptable if it is used as an excuse to cover their own inactions or decisions.

The Liberals did some good things and not so good things when they were in power. By all means feel free to criticise the not so good things. However, when Conservatives do it in the context of defending a bonehead action or decision by the Conservative government they are failing to demand accountability from them. Something Conservatives demanded from the Liberals at every turn.

So Olaf, if you demanded accountability from the Liberals for every decision they made when they were in power I would expect you to do the same for the Conservatives. To not demand it and to try to shift blame to the Liberals every time something does not go quite according to Stephen Harper's plan is just wrong.

Bottom line, the Conservatives won the right to govern. Governance gives them the opportunity to make decision but it also gives them the obligation to take responsibility for those decisions and for the actions of the government. And I cannot believe that anybody with even a modicum of objectivity would consider the Conservative practice of blaming the Liberals every time something goes wrong as taking responsibility. If you have a problem with that assertion then I would be careful throwing around the hypocracy charge.

Steve V said...

olaf

If there is some conversion I view that as positive. I didn't support Dion for the leadership, and was quite critical of his potential selection, but never once did I doubt his sincerity on the environment. Now, people can discount this fact, but I do believe he brought some urgency to the file, and was credibly preparing a comprehensive plan. That fact doesn't excuse the theoretical angle, nor the past, but I do think he enjoys some credibility. Afterall, if he were such a fraud, then why all the praise from environmentalists, May, Layton, etc- that doesn't jive with "do nothing".

I might add, Conservatives have little trouble trumpeting Harper's supposed environmental conversion, so lets just say we are all christians and move on to actual policy :)

Gayle said...

olaf - I am not sure who is actually saying the reform opposition bullied the liberals into doing nothing on this file. I certainly am not saying that, but, as I said above, you cannot look at the inaction on this file in a vacuum, and you must consider the political climate (no pun intended) at the time.

The mere fact they have a majority does not give the party in power carte blanche to do whatever they please. They are elected to represent the interests of the electorate after all. You are falling in to the standard conservative line that suggests a majority government can do whatever the hell they want. They do have to face the electorate within 5 years - a fact you like to remind us of whenever you claim that Harper is not pretending to be centrist until he gets his majority.

It is easy for Baird to introduce his "plan" in an era when global warming and concern for the environment is growing. It is unfair to judge the liberal record without also considering the lack of interest by the public in the environment at the time.

This certainly does not excuse the liberals, though my feeling is they would have had a hard time convincing the electorate in 1995 strong measures were necessary and warranted.

Dana said...

Steve, always remember that almost everything about today's world and our emerging collective planetary future is a challenge to conservatives.

I don't mean a challenge in the sense of being something to rise to meet, however. I mean a challenge in the sense of an insult or maybe more generously a test of will.

The idea that citizens might actually *want* the federal government to be effectively involved in their day to day lives is a challenge to conservatives. Citizens might actually want federal tax dollars spent toward federally mandated services for citizens - that is a challenge to conservatives.

Symmetry and consistency between and among jurisdictions is an idea that is a challenge to conservatives. They're convinced that smaller, less wealthy jurisdictions have no legitimate claim on the resources of larger, richer jurisdictions in any attempts to seek a coast to coast equilibrium.

A populace more respecting of negotiation and cooperation than demagoguery and confrontation is a challenge to conservatives.

Christ almighty I could go on for days...

The idea of a thoughtful, creative, secular orientation toward the multicultural future of the planet is a challenge to conservatives.

Conservatism is a mindset constructed purely on self-interest and the self-righteous presumption that everyone else is exactly like them.

Don't expect anything else.