Polls show anywhere from 65-75% of Canadians don't approve of the government's environmental policies, have little confidence in their commitment. That means, the messenger is entirely marginalized, people already have a negative perception, which makes any "attack" less credible. Taken a step further, the "attacks" also draw attention not just to the target, but also to the flaws of the aggressor. Have you read a news item about the latest ads, which also doesn't reference the Conservatives weak approach? You can't just attack and yell forever, eventually it becomes a more serious debate, and within that, the Conservatives fail. The reason, nobody, in the know, will come to their aid.
Case in point, respected economist (the same guy Baird hired to cost out Kyoto for his Senate appearance) comes out today and trashes the hollow attacks:
"Tory attack on carbon tax is dishonest: economist"
A prominent resource economist has pronounced himself disgusted with "dishonest" Conservative attack ads on a Liberal carbon tax proposal that's yet to be unveiled.
"The Conservatives -- and I say this with great sadness because I don't care which political party is in power -- but if we're going to do anything about climate change, we're going to have to be honest with people," Marc Jaccard of Simon Fraser University told CTV.ca on Tuesday.
"This is just totally dishonest."
On the weekend, the Tories previewed ads aimed at the proposed carbon tax, painting it as Liberal Leader Stephane Dion's "tax on everything."
The ads are to start running Tuesday.
Jaccard, a co-author of the recent book Hot Air, said the Conservatives' own policy on reducing greenhouse gas emissions won't work because it doesn't put a price on carbon for consumers.
"Their policy is to regulate industry and then have these offset loopholes where industry can subsidize consumers. But those are the types of policies that have never worked in the past," he said.
"I'm not a fan of Stephane Dion, but when you get a politician out there that's trying to start an honest dialogue and say to people, 'you know what? We won't get our emissions down if there isn't a price on them and that's just the truth'," Jaccard said.
"And to see politicians saying, 'Maybe I can stay in power' or gain more power, or maybe a majority government, by distorting this" disgusted him, he said.
And that's the intangible in this entire debate. The Conservatives can howl, they can run ads, but when push comes to shove, they are the one's armed with the weak plan, a plan which has no backing. The NDP have a plan, the Greens have a plan, the Liberals will have a plan, people will debate the merits of each, while the Conservatives evaporate once we get passed soundbites and the superficial. Really, these attacks are desperation, it's all they have, because they bring nothing to the table.
Canadians already have a low opinion of the Conservatives, going entirely negative actually raises the prospect of Dion looking like the only adult in the room. I'm not suggesting problems, this plan had better show some realization of the present circumstance or it's dead weight, but nobody should fear the blue machine on this score. People wonder if Dion is the right messenger to sell the plan, but you could just as easily wonder if the Conservatives are the competent messenger to discredit the plan. Seems to me, the Conservatives are hardly the credible source, they have no apolitical support and their negativity ultimately draws attention their own failure. The Liberals will sink or swim, on the merits of their own plan, how capable they are at selling. Call me naive, but I'm just not afraid of the Conservative attack machine on this score.