Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Powerful Ally


If anyone thinks the Liberals will be standing alone, as they absorb criticism from all quarters on their tax shift (hey JB) proposal, they better think again. I've argued before, Dion needs to bring out economists and environmentalists alike, to rally support behind his ideas, to blunt the smear machine we all know is coming.

People can say what they want about David Suzuki, but the fact of the matter, he is Canada's most widely respected scientist, with tremendous popularity. You don't make the Top 10 list of greatest Canadians unless you have mass appeal, which I mention to counter the fringe view of the man as some crazy extremist that shouldn't be taken seriously. David Suzuki has clout, stature that is unrivaled on this file. When Baird decided to go head to head with Suzuki he lost badly, Canadians overwhelming sided with Suzuki. With that said, his blessing and/or rejection matters, especially if he doesn't stay on the sidelines, especially if he is vocal.

Suzuki made an appearance on Question Period today, wherein he endorsed Dion's approach to climate change. Within this support, some biting criticism of the NDP:

"I'm really shocked at the NDP on this, because I had thought the NDP had a very progressive outlook on this, and that astounds me. We have the same thing in British Columbia, a government that has proposed a carbon tax, and I take my hat off to them. Economists have been telling us that this is the most effective way to get people to change their behavior, and to have the NDP in British Columbia attacking this just astounds me, because there is just no question, this is the way to go. It's revenue neutral, it's not a tax grab, governments can use the revenue to help people, tax rebates for lower income. To oppose, this because of ideology or something is just nonsense. This is something that has got to come."

If Dion is able to enlist the support of people like Suzuki, directly or indirectly, it will serve him well moving forward. If you want to discount Suzuki, I think his opinion should be framed in this way- do 35-40% of Canadians have a favorable opinion of the man, do they take his advice seriously? Dion's plan doesn't need to win over everyone, he only needs to appeal to 35% of the electorate to win a minority, near 40% to reach the majority threshold. If this proposal becomes the central plank in an election campaign, many voters will make up their minds with this debate at the fore. Having someone like Suzuki in your corner will certainly be a lure to soft supporters of other parties. The stakes will be high, people will be vocal, it will be seen as "the" moment.

I voted NDP in the last election, primarily because I thought they had a very progressive platform on the environment, I'm sure I wasn't alone. I mention this because, if this election becomes a battle over the environment, Dion will benefit from having the environmental community endorsing his plan, it could sway people similar to myself, it could appeal to the "free agent" voter, it could help on the vote-splitting front. If I was a Liberal strategist, I would do my best to quietly ensure that Mr. Suzuki has a high profile this summer, encourage him to offer his non-partisan convictions in response to criticisms. There is no question, David Suzuki is a powerful ally, he is the defacto voice of the environmental community.

35 comments:

knb said...

I swear you are my more articulate twin, lol.

Personally, I don't think Suzuki is the end of it. If the plan turns out to be what I hope, I think the support will be without precedent.

The Greens will be fine as they have had the idea of tax shifting for some time, the NDP I think will be in trouble.

The jigsaw puzzle is looking a little less daunting to me. Colour has been added and it's no longer black and white.

The Right is Where its At said...

Are you kidding me Steve;) The list that you just provided also has Don Cherry. Are you going to tell me that he is one of the greatest Canadians huh that's a laugh.

The only one that will be in trouble here are the liberals. When the socialist NDP find this to radical,its says a lot of Mr.Dion. And they say that Mr.Dion is not left wing give me a break;)

Let us wait and see how this Carbon Tax will play out during the summer when Canadians are going to pay threw their nose at the pumps.

Even people in their own party are worried. If anyone as seen what's in this plan has to be his own caucus. If they are worried what do you think the rest us will be?

I know that B.C. will get one this summer.But ask yourself this question here. Why didn't B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell make this a campaign issue? Hummm!

The last time that I remembered of having an election campaign on a tax by any party as one of their main issues in their platform was Mr.Harper's Conservatives when he promised to cut the GST by 2% and Mr. Jean Chr├ętien liberals to eliminate the GST. If memory serves me right I think that Mr.Harper won a minority government,and that Mr.Jean Chr├ętien liberals won a majority government. Think about it people.

The biggest political lie is when politician's say that a tax is revenue neutral. Yea right! Just remember that the GST was supposed to be revenue neutral. It was every thing but...

Now let the spin start;)

Steve V said...

"Are you kidding me Steve;) The list that you just provided also has Don Cherry. Are you going to tell me that he is one of the greatest Canadians huh that's a laugh."

And the "fringe", hardcore Con voter speaks... a nation largely yawns. Your opinion is irrelevant, Suzuki has weight, just ask Baird. I believe there was a poll down, wherein twice as many sided with Suzuki over the blowhard. You might not respect the man, but then again who cares, Dion isn't interested in the koolaid crowd.

knb

It is less daunting, primarily because this idea started with the experts, and Dion can count on their support.

Scott Tribe said...

Hmm.. as I recall, Thomas D'Aquino, president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, also supports a carbon tax.

Is he too radical too, "the right is where it's at"?

Steve V said...

One angle to consider here, I remember one poll, where the question was asked- who would you vote for if the election were strictly on environmental issues. The Liberals scored just barely ahead of the NDP, I think they had 20%. If the environmental community rallies behind Dion, you have to wonder if the NDP's supposed strength will be eroded. I think that, along with siphoning off soft Green support, might be the most important dynamic to this debate. That's what intrigues me, the opinion "of the right is where it's wrong" and that ilk is outside of any consideration, it's the other 70% of voters that our the potential Liberal pool.

knb said...

Indeed Steve, I agree.

I think this issue has the ability to spread to others. We've been Con'd for some time.

Now it's time for exposure.

knb said...

right, you are so off the mark, it's difficult to comment.

The NDP do not think it's radical, they have a different plan as opposed to your guys who have none.

The Harper/Baird lie is in trouble now and about to be exposed, again.

I look forward to your comments when this strategy wins.

Oh, wait, will you comment then?

Anonymous said...

Suzuki (on QP) was also quite fond of the way that Sweden's progressive tax on carbon worked...any takers on who acually pays for it over there?

Steve V said...

anon

I do know this, Sweden has the top one or two standards of living in the world. Pretty much says it all, but I suspect you will find fault somewhere to support the bias.

Wayward Son said...

Right - “When the socialist NDP find this to radical,its says a lot of Mr.Dion. And they say that Mr.Dion is not left wing give me a break;)”
The NDP do not disagree with a tax shift because they find this policy radical. They disagree with it because they believe it is right wing, free market policy. Which makes it all the more surprising why Conservatives oppose it so strongly. Well not really, the new brand of Conservatives are as far away from the traditional conservative beliefs of taking personal responsibility for your own actions as possible and the fact that their followers believe that Dion’s proposal is way out is left field shows just how stupid their followers have become.
Steve – “I think that, along with siphoning off soft Green support, might be the most important dynamic to this debate.”
Agreed. I voted NDP for years although I was never really comfortable there. I switched to the Green Party a couple elections ago because of the carbon/tax shift policy, although since May’s leadership the hardening of some of their positions I have always thought were environmentally irresponsible have pushed me to be an independent. If Dion and his Liberals can put forward a solid first step towards a decent carbon/tax shift policy they will get my vote.
I also know some old PCers who will be very happy with the policy. Back before the “merger” I felt that the old PCs would be the party most likely to grab this policy from the Greens (afterall it was developed in the GPC by mostly former Progressive Conservatives). This is one of few good ideas from slightly right-of-center thinkers. So not surprisingly rightwing bloggers don’t get it.
Done properly this has the potential to have wide appeal.

Steve V said...

wayward

I think that pretty powerful, that you would consider giving the Libs you vote, based on this policy. You've always been very eloquent and well read on this file, if there is the potential to win over people like yourself, it's a good sign.


I would add, it's still early, but Dion may have just outflanked everyone here, and the Cons may be left with empty promises, supported by no one, well behind the curve, nothing more than fear mongering.

Anonymous said...

The NDP are so against anything corporate it has fogged their vision. They want to tax only the big corporate polluters - well, the big corporate polluters can afford any fines levied. Or, the corporations could just bloody well leave Canada - and then what - no jobs, etc.

The NDP hate corporations because they want unions to run everything. Can you just imagine - all companies would go bankrupt because the unionized employees would demand and demand and demand until there is nothing left.

I think the Tories are worried - they've come out in full fist fight mode - and they don't even know what the plan is.

I remember Mulcair saying the NDP is best for managing the economy - he said look at Manitoba. Well, the NDP Government in Manitoba give tax breaks to corporations. Sweden does as well. We couldn't afford to do all the NDP wants without at least tripling our taxes.

Everyone is judging and they don't know what the full package is.

Antonio said...

"I'm really shocked at the NDP on this, because I had thought the NDP had a very progressive outlook on this, and that astounds me. We have the same thing in British Columbia, a government that has proposed a carbon tax, and I take my hat off to them. Economists have been telling us that this is the most effective way to get people to change their behavior, and to have the NDP in British Columbia attacking this just astounds me, because there is just no question, this is the way to go. It's revenue neutral, it's not a tax grab, governments can use the revenue to help people, tax rebates for lower income. To oppose, this because of ideology or something is just nonsense. This is something that has got to come."

There is your election ad.

no drums needed

The Right is Where its At said...

"I look forward to your comments when this strategy wins."

I don't have to comment when this strategy wins knb,because it will not
work period. Just look at history from my post 6:59 post.

Example remember all the experts that came out in favor of Kyoto?
It didn't change one Iota when it came to the Canadian people saying who is the better leader and which party the people would vote for.

You give me one example Knb in recent history of our country where a major political party proposed a new tax during an election campaign and won.

Please don't tell me that this will be revenue neutral,because no-one in their right mind will buy this.

Everytime a government has come up with a tax they have always took in more then what they gave out.

Let us say that it will
be revenue neutral for argument sake alright.
That is 17 billion$ from the Carbon tax and 17 billion$ in lowering our income fine.

Now the carbon tax is supposed change people habits right. Let us say it works and changes our habits. We stop using all energies that uses carbon. This would mean that the government would not receive the 17 billion $ from the carbon tax,but still lower our income by 17 billion $ this to me spells deficit my friend. Now you know why I don't buy in this notion of revenue neutral.

Steve V said...

"Please don't tell me that this will be revenue neutral,because no-one in their right mind will buy this."

Oh, they just might, when bankers and economists support the idea. You're just so simplistic here, it's amazing. This isn't some half-baked lefty idea, it's supported by people with credibility, most of it starts as a sound economic principle. Add in the environmental community, and what does Baird have left, except fear mongering? I suspect that might work for a few weeks, but the last time Baird went on the attack, about 30% of Canadians (the Con base) believed him, the rest thought he was trying to "scare" people. You have to remember who the attacker is, they have no track record, akin to Flaherty in Ontario.

You hate it, but like I keep saying, you're irrelevant. It's people like wayward that intrigue me, not somebody that has a signed Harper photo at his bedside. Who cares! It's all SO predictable, and I might add, I think it gets tiring with Canadians. Dion will look like the only adult in the room if this thing is played correctly.

antonio

A great ad indeed.

Wayward Son said...

Right - "Now the carbon tax is supposed change people habits right. Let us say it works and changes our habits. We stop using all energies that uses carbon. This would mean that the government would not receive the 17 billion $ from the carbon tax,but still lower our income by 17 billion $ this to me spells deficit my friend. Now you know why I don't buy in this notion of revenue neutral."

Well, just like in the coming election Canadians will be given an opportunity to decide what type of tax policy they want. If this tax shift works and government revenues fall then once again Canadians can decide on what kind of tax policy they want. Duh.

burlivespipe said...

The CON crew continue their distortions, even without seeing the whole flesh on the bird.
Revenue neutral? The fact that they've pitched the GST cuts is just a wild turkey which isn't 'revenue neutral', either. Only, unlike their 'tax-cutting cousins' down south, Canada's economy was in a position to absorb what nearly every economist (except those with degrees in crayon like Harper) called a blatant foolish expenditure. The GST cuts didn't reward better production, didn't inspire greater savings or wiser investment; however, it essentially plied the middle class with a reward for the rich -- and raised personal income tax to pay for it (and later restored the Liberal personal tax cuts in another measure)!
If, as they articulate, a 'tax shift' based on Dion's still to be revealed plan isn't revenue neutral, the key is how it is applied. As we can see by Harper's economic measures, surpluses are going the way of the do-do bird. The string of finding money behind the seat cushions every year, started by PM Martin, will now be replaced with Flaherty-foolery, which will only be discovered by the next auditor general somewhere down the line (unless the CONs are able to muscle and muzzle her department, like they've tried).
They'll have our economy in the same 'ship-shape' that the republicans to the south have us in, squawking about 'tax cuts' while never contending about the price.
A tax-shift, if presented wisely and given a good listen to, has the chance to appeal to common sense.
It's part and parcel of what I've perceived as a clever strategy, long-term, where Dion is moving the party's appeal towards a Green-ish, personal responsibility platform. If Canadians, as many polls have told us, are interested and willing to make some sacrifices in the face of globally catastrophic climate change, then his policy planks are the sign of true leadership.

Blues Clair said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott Tribe said...

Heh.. note that Mr Right Where It's At totally stepped over my question on whether Thomas D'Acquino is a radical as well for supporting a carbon tax - he the president of an organization that is basically the CEO's of the 150 biggest businesses in Canada.

Well Right? Is Mr D'Acquino a stark raving radical as well?

ottlib said...

"it's the other 70% of voters that our the potential Liberal pool."

You are bang on Steve.

Liberals have to start ignoring what the Conservatives and the NDP are saying about them a focus on getting their message out.

That has been something the Liberals have not been doing since Adscam first broke 4 years ago.

No matter what Mr. Dion does they will find fault. So stop worrying about folks who will never support you and start talking to those who could support you if the circumstances are right.

As you say there are alot of them. It is a wide and deep pool.

ottlib said...

scott:

I would also point out that The Economist newspaper, a bastion of radical left wing thought if there ever was one, has also come out in favour governments putting a price on carbon.

Anonymous said...

The carbon tax is the rightwing response to climate change. People like D'Aquino and The Economist love it because it is a flat tax that will hot the poor disproportionately and the so-called "tax-shifting" will mean lower income taxes - something that rightwing economists always champion.

For all the stereotypes about the NDP being the party of environmentalists - in reality by far the greatest predictor of voting NDP is LOW INCOME. For every vote that the NDP loses from the odd bike-riding Suzuki-groupie who wants to pay higher taxes - they will gain 5 votes from working class people struggling to make ends meet in places like Hamilton, northern Ontario, the BC interior etc... - those people will like the NDP plan of attacking the large corporate polluters instead of telling Canadians "it's all your fault - you must pay the penalty"

The Right is Where its At said...

I'm not going to comment on this issue forever. But I will make this exception here.

First I have not called anyone a raving radical alright.

Second at the risk of being accused of using Conservatives talking points I don't care. I will add this. These corporation that make billions $$ in net profit could easily pay for the carbon tax. That is if they don't just decide to pass the extra cost on to the customers in one way or another.

Now what about the corporations that barely make ends meet example the airlines for example,cab drivers,trucking transport in general. Oh yea Mr.Dion also said he would lower tax's too on corporations. But I will use the line that liberals have used on the Conservative government before. What good is lowering income tax if these companies don't make any profits? Hummm! Remember these companies still will have to pay tax's on carbon energy whether they make profits or not. Or otherwise Mr.Dion will not even come close to the amount expected from a carbon tax.

I have seen numbers has high as 17 billion $$ from the carbon tax. This would mean Mr.Dion would have to lower our income by 17 billion $$ also to make it revenue neutral. Now let us just say that the carbon tax doesn't collect the 17 billion $$ it supposed to collect for what ever reason economy etc..etc. Now wouldn't it put us in a big deficit problem.

Lastly I have been criticized for criticizing Mr.Dion carbon tax plan without even seeing it fair enough. But I see that the liberals on the blogs have no problems approving his plan with out seeing the plan either. I just find it funny that's all.

Saskboy said...

Why is it that some of the modern Greatest Canadians always seem to come from some TV show? ;-) Don Cherry ha.

Steve V said...

"I just find it funny that's all."

Right, if it's any consolation, you make me laugh too.

anon

" they will gain 5 votes from working class people struggling to make ends meet in places like Hamilton, northern Ontario, the BC interior etc... - those people will like the NDP plan of attacking the large corporate polluters instead of telling Canadians "it's all your fault - you must pay the penalty"

If you don't think the plan will encompass some shield for low income earners, then your just not paying attention. Besides, the way I read, everyone pays, and the more you do so, the more your accountable. How that translates to a free ride for bigger polluters escapes me. I also find it ironic that the NDP is now anti "bike-riding", is that the new pitch? What will Jack do, considering he IS that guy.

Steve V said...

Hey anon, who's that guy on the right? Over dressed, but you get the picture.

Steve V said...

They make a cute couple don't they. Thumbs up you two!

Anonymous said...

I'm all for bike riding - in fact i bike to work every day myself and have never owned a car. But I still think that the Carbon Tax is a very regressive way to deal with climate change. When you hear David McGuinty bragging about how "very rightwing economists" think it's a great idea...and when everyone from Andrew Coyne to Tom D'Aquino think its such a great idea - you have to wonder who exactly is going to pay and who will benefit.

You hear that sucking sound??? It's the sound of 8 Liberal ridings in Northern Ontario where people have no choice but to drive cars and heat their homes - all tumbling to the NDP - that's just for starters.

It's interesting that some people point to polls that say that a majority of Canadians support a Carbon Tax - yet we also see polls that show that 2/3 of Canadians also want a CUT in the gas tax!! seems a contradictory doesn't it???

I look forward to the next election where the Conservative message is to ignore climate change, the Liberal position is to blame the average Canadian for it and make them pay - and the NDP position is to make the BIG CORPORATE polluters who actually create the vast majority of GHGs pay - and also take that new revenue to invest in green technology and mass transit. Since the Liberal plan is SUPPOSED to be "revenue neutral" it means that there won't be one red cent of new money to provide people with alternatives to driving etc...

Bring it on...this could be to Dion like what wage and price controls was to Robert Stanfield and what religious school funding was to John Tory!!

Steve V said...

"Bring it on"

It would appear to be on. And, if your suggesting, the NDP could forgo the hub and concentrate on the hinterland, you best review your MP map. From a tactical point of view, if this puts the NDP off balance and they have to reinvent themselves, that is a win in a sense. I know the NDP is a coalition of people, but I also know that many were lured their because of this file, many are the Suzuki crowd.

Do you want me to post the twenty pictures of Layton smiling besides Suzuki, or the numerous quotes praising him? You can ignore this as partisan, but I think the NDP is in an awkward position at the moment, it will be interesting to watch the pivot. We'll see.

Blues Clair said...

My problem with the NDP's proposal for 'hard caps' on major emitters (which I support) is that they are neglecting to tell Canadians that their solution to Climate Change will lead to higher prices as well. Besides that, the NDP have some valid points and so do the folks proposing a Carbon Tax (if done correctly). As one environmental economist put it, “this may be an argument among friends”. That being said, having David Suzuki to come down on you ain't a good PR day for Jack Layton.

Unfortunately the Conservatives have made themselves irrelevant in this debate.

The Count said...

Steve,

I'm a bit behind the discussion on this one, but I think my main problem with your argument is that David Suzuki is respected for his environmental, not his economic, expertise. If critics were saying that a carbon tax would be bad for the environment, Suzuki would be helpful in deflecting those criticisms, but they're not; they're saying it would be bad for the economy or for individuals or whomever. I think on those criticisms (the economy and tax policy specifically), Suzuki is far less of an expert, and holds far less clout as a result (although your point on his general, symbolic appeal is well taken).

Steve V said...

the count

Fair enough, but you are forgetting, this plan has extensive support with economists, very respected one's at that. Suzuki helps with environmentalists, the economists will provide the "responsible" argument, both working in tandem to support Dion.

RuralSandi said...

I doubt very much that Dion would prepare a plan without a lot of discussion with economists.

The Count said...

Steve,

How I'd missed our cordial debates. You're fair on this point, as always, and I agree that Suzuki's support is nothing but a net benefit. I think it's less of a benefit in this case than your post implies, as the point of controversy isn't his expertise, but he's a benefit none the less. Especially in trashing the NDP. I defer to you on this point.

ps I've admired your balanced work during my months of absence. The pressure to "defend the leader" under any and all circumstances for the sake of the "greater good" must have been substantial.

Steve V said...

count

Appreciate your insights :)