Clearly, a pre-emptive strike, further defining the Liberal plan before it is released, getting ahead of the PR war. The timing is good, if there is one thing on people's mind today, it's rising fuel costs, to some degree a receptive audience. That said, interesting that two and a half years on, the Conservatives have yet to release one ad that is positive in nature. It does start to say something about the messenger too.
On that score, Goldstein's latest column actually has some relevance (monkey and the keyboard?). This will be the first and only time I'll quote him, apart from mocking, but he makes a good point:
The campaign, designed to reach ordinary voters directly while bypassing media and academic elites, reveals Conservative thinking.
Clearly, they're worried Dion's carbon tax, whenever he releases it, could appeal to voters concerned about global warming, particularly if the Liberal announcement is backed by environmentalists, economists and business groups stressing it will be effective and "revenue neutral," a claim the Tories mock. You don't put this much effort into attacking someone you don't think is a threat.
Finally, the Conservatives haven't been good at explaining their own plans to combat global warming.
Simply mocking Dion without credibly explaining what they'd do instead, could be their Achilles heel.
And, there it is, attacking without an alternative doesn't produce the desired response. The obvious counter, as this debate evolves, the Conservatives are going negative, because they having nothing positive to offer. The Liberals offer a serious plan, while the Conservatives take shots from the sidelines. While the Liberals can present expert opinion to support their ideas, all the Conservatives have is the spectre of trying to yell the loudest, swamping the message, like a declawed bully. I'm not arguing the attacks won't resonate, but when you consider the source, they will be viewed with some suspicion.
How this all plays out is a completely open question. The Liberals are apparently ready to release their own ads to sell the plan, ads which I hope have a more mature argument, one's that give voters a certain measure of respect, as opposed to the Treehouse flavor offered by the Cons.
The big question, obviously, just what exactly that plan will be. Here's hoping that the plan is watered down somewhat, and by that I mean, acknowledgement that the present circumstance is already doing much of what the tax was supposed to achieve. I've already posted on the rapidly changing dynamics on the consumption side, in reality we are already seeing the desired response. A few people have floated a "threshold" idea, wherein any tax only kicks in if fuels drop below a certain level, a level which MUST be well below the current price. In this way, you say to the electorate, no sense piling on now, but there is an acknowledgement that prices will only drop to a certain level. This plan had better be pragmatic, or these attacks will get more mileage than they deserve.