Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Sour Notes


In attacking the Liberal plan so vehemently, I honestly think the NDP runs a serious risk of looking overtly political, rather than the "principled" persona supporters like to embrace. While others ask questions about trivial scandals, the NDP asks questions on issues. While others play partisan games, the NDP works to "get things done". Blah, blah, blah, anyone who is paying attention knows it's more about packaging as an alternative, rather than any fundamental difference in approach. The fact of the matter, the NDP is just as calculating, just as apt to compromise principle for political gain, as every other party, maybe worse, given the self-appointed purist pedestal.

Two columns today, form part of a developing narrative, one that possibly exposes the NDP on the environment, more concerned with self interest than an "honest debate".

First, former Ontario NDP MP Lynn McDonald, with a telling title:
Layton plays politics while Dion proposes a necessary ingredient to fight global warming



The NDP has historically been a leader in advocating social justice, but not now...

We all have to rethink the issue and the NDP does a disservice with its simplistic rejection of the carbon tax. All Canadians concerned with the environment and our long-term survival have a stake in a serious and effective climate change action plan.

Chantal Hebert, on the Quebec angle:
NDP climate strategy comes up short


As twisted as it may seem, the logic of advancing the cause of climate change by waging war on the Liberals at a time that party is winning kudos from much of Canada's environment movement for its Green Shift plan is what passes for strategy for the federal NDP these days.

In that spirit, the by-election campaign will give Canadians an early taste of the next general election, when Jack Layton will be taking turns with Stephen Harper to take shots at Dion's carbon tax.

The NDP justifies its opposition to a carbon tax by arguing that it will hit hardest the Canadians most vulnerable to rising energy prices. But the party would have more of a point if the Liberal plan did not go out of its way to shift money to lower-income and rural Canadians. Indeed, the Dion plan was harshly criticized for amounting to a covert redistribution scheme rather than the tax-neutral regime it purports to be.

Tellingly, the page that the NDP website devotes to a critique of the Dion tax shift features half a dozen independent quotes that pre-date the actual unveiling of the Liberal policy. Some don't even address it.

A prime minister who hails from the right wing of his party, Harper leads a government that is more conservative than any previous Tory regime. Dion meanwhile is really a progressive first and a Liberal second; his determination to regroup his party under the climate change banner in the next election is making the NDP battle plan look more opportunistic than idealistic.

Opportunistic indeed, and the prospects of another Harper/Layton tagteam might well put any doubt to rest.

The NDP has a fine line to walk moving forward, because if there is focus is evenly split between attacking the Liberals and the Conservatives, they risk looking political, they risk undermining the idea of any real action on the environment. The NDP's proposals are actually irrelevant, since they will never be implemented, that's just the bottomline. When left with only two choices, is it now the role of the NDP to help Harper keep power, by running ads against the Liberal plan, spending so much of their energy attacking the only alternative to nothingness? Again, bottomline, it couldn't be clearer. That doesn't mean no room for "honest debate", but it would seem much of the discussion so far is really about what's good for the NDP, what's good for Canada a speck on the horizon.

I've heard this online, as well as from more formal NDP sources, that the Liberal plan does nothing for the environment, the lack of hard targets, a clear red flag to empty proposals. Such a nonsensical argument, because if one is too believe the Liberal plan does nothing, then one has to disregard much of the environmental community who seem to see the merits of nothing. One of the most bizarre, illogical arguments I've heard. I guess the NDP knows more than the experts, the same people Layton used to love to mug to the cameras with as allies in a common fight. Good luck with that one. "Environmentalists offer tepid praise for Liberal Plan that achieves nothing". I smell a winner!

The plan lets bigger emitters off the hook, which entirely explains why the interests with the big emitters are firmly rejecting the Liberal scheme. If someone can reconcile that inherent contradiction let me know, because from here it serves as proof positive that the Liberal plan is tough, otherwise why the "outrage". See, when the Conservatives released their smokescreen of a plan, all we heard from the big emitters, and their political lackeys was "we can work with this", not "stealing our wealth" or "crippling our economies". All you need to do, to pierce through the spinning political haze, is look at the reaction from the bigboys, it speaks VOLUMES, and frankly exposes the NDP criticism for what it is, posturing.

The plan hurts the poor, yet as Hebert points out, no mention of the many REAL provisions in the plan to address this concern. It is as though we aren't sophisticated enough to see that the Liberal plan actually addresses the primary NDP talking point, it puts out measures to offset that real criticism. But, wouldn't want an "honest debate", when you can coin a catchy slogan for maximum political damage.

Time for a different tune, because all I hear are sour notes, and as time goes by, it becomes increasingly obvious, I'm not alone.

29 comments:

Mushroom said...

I have posted this at Blogging Horse's blog since he failed to pay attention to Lynn McDonald's op-ed.

"As an environment critic for your party (the NDP) when Mulroney was PM, she is the one advocating proactive solutions. For a party that is on the forefront of smoke-free workplaces, using populist rhetoric calling for lower gas prices does not help the working class that is choking on dirty air.

Not this time and not now, is the NDP's response. That is not what the recent Decima poll says. Canadians are ready to make sacrifices for the environment, and the carbon tax is one."

Will we see the blogpost on Decima's poll soon, or is it the continuation of the same general response. Canadians want environmental action now.

northwestern_lad said...

Okay Steve... You need to go to rehab for that Liberal kool-aid addiction of yours...

"The NDP's proposals are actually irrelevant, since they will never be implemented, that's just the bottomline. When left with only two choices, is it now the role of the NDP to help Harper keep power, by running ads against the Liberal plan, spending so much of their energy attacking the only alternative to nothingness?"

They will never be implemented now??? Is that like Jack Layton's Kyoto bill, the one the Liberals never got around to passing???

And the NDP have been keeping the Cons in power??? Are you shitting me??? Aren't you the same guy who has spent the better part of the last year complaining about how the Liberals have kept this government going??? I guess having Chantal Hebert write something that Liberals can't take to be a part of her supposed vendetta must have thrown you for a loop or something.

Sorry Steve, but what you just wrote is bull.

Scott Tribe said...

You sem to have skipped over Lynne Macdonald's criticism, NW Lad. Truth hurts eh? Glad to see some NDP members seeing this strategy for what it is - which is pure partisan politics on the NDP's part.

Steve V said...

Cam, do you actually believe the NDP's plan will EVER be implemented? That's the bull here, meanwhile as you train you attacks on silly things like the name Greenshift, Harper laughs.

The NDP prefers an intellectually dishonest argument, for partisan gain, and everyone sees it, apart from the koolaid NDP crowd.

I voted for your stupid party last election, so spare me the Liberal blind partisan line. All you need to do, is ask yourself on question- does Stephen Harper like or dislike the NDP attacking the Liberal plan. The answer tells us all we need to know.

Steve V said...

"Aren't you the same guy who has spent the better part of the last year complaining about how the Liberals have kept this government going???"

Yes, that was me. And, now I will start complaining about the NDP setting the stage for a fall election campaign, where their central goal will be another misguided attempt to hurt the Liberals, ensuring that this government keeps "going". Still waiting for the "honest debate", so far everything coming from headquarters seems to be smears and half truths. Hey, I suppose it's political survival, just don't try to tell me it's about principles. There is a reason why environmentalists are turning on the NDP you know, and within that you will find the elusive principled stand.

northwestern_lad said...

Scott... I take your Lynn MacDonald and raise you a Bill Graham... yeah, the truth does hurt, doesn't it???

And Steve, I believe the NDP plan is the best plan because it will actually reduce emissions. I guess Stephane is all scared by actual targets seeing as how he failed so miserably in meeting them before. And believe it or not, I don't give a shit if Harper is laughing because that's not my concern. My concern is with what is right, and seeing as how the Liberals knowingly infringed on their trademark, they deserve what they get there.

And what I find hilarious is that you call the idea that Stephane supported until just last year is now "an intellectually dishonest argument".

You may thing my party is stupid, and that's your right, but that's not going to change the fact that your party's plan isn't going to get it done. What I do has nothing to do with what Stephen Harper wants and has to do what I believe is right. If I spent as much time worrying about Stephen Harper's thoughts as so many Liberals seem to I'd never get out of bed and to work in the morning. Doing what's right is what matters, not the opposite of what will make Harper happy. The NDP has a plan that they believe is right, and if you don't like that, attack the plan, don't go calling them irrellevant, stupid and such. That just takes away from any argument that you might have.

And finally, there are just as many environmentalists that support the NDP's plan as the Liberals, and you know that. There is not this sweeping consensus that you'd like to make it out to be.

Steve V said...

"the fact that your party's plan isn't going to get it done."

Can you cite me one credible environmentalist who doesn't think this is part of the solution??
What you guys are proposing is just nonsense, that has hardly any support outside of the NDP orbit. To argue this does nothing is actually a testament to desperation, because when you combine the reaction from the emitters, with the reaction from the experts (not every one, but I'm very pleased with the overall reaction), you see all you need too. Seems to me the NDP just likes taking shots, but is a tad sensitive when the halo gets slightly stained.

Anyways, waste your time on the big bad Liberals stealing a generic name from the poor little lady's company. I'm sure it's all principled, and nothing to do with scoring cheap political points. Once again Cons and the NDP united!

northwestern_lad said...

Steve... there are just as many environmentalists that are saying that Cap and Trade is the way to go as there are saying that Carbon tax is. That's the fact. The difference here is that the NDP plan has actual targets and is going to take the money from the pricing to help people actually use less. The Liberal plan is all about shifting taxes and giving next to nothing towards helping people actually use less.

As for the popularity of the Liberal plan, do I really need to go there??? Remember Steve, I don't talk about polls but if I was to talk about those most recent ones....

And by the way, it's Libs and Cons united. Just check the results of the votes in the House of Commons. The people haven't forgotten about that, and won't.

Dr.Dawg said...

Attack the Libs, attack the Cons...same difference. The former are just Conservative backbenchers, judging from the past few months.

But this:

I honestly think the NDP runs a serious risk of looking overtly political

Good grief some of you are babes in the woods.

Steve V said...

"Good grief some of you are babes in the woods."

Thank-you oh wise one. Get a clue.

Steve V said...

"As for the popularity of the Liberal plan, do I really need to go there???"

I'm taking about the experts. And, you conveniently leave out that the Liberal plan is open to cap and trade. It is the NDP that is being criticized for the either/or proposition, which is presented as a false choice.

Steve V said...

What Dr. Condescending fails to realize, part of the NDP's appeal on the center left is that they do things differently, that they put principle first, that they don't operate like other parties, hungry for power, say anything to get elected, blah, blah, blah. If you erode that core appeal, then you are in trouble. Looking just like everyone else is hardly a good sign for the NDP.

ottlib said...

Ouch, that has got to hurt.

When a member of the NDP from its glory days under Ed Broadbent comes out and sharply criticises the NDP it cannot be too comfortable for those in the Party now.

Remember, when she was a member of the NDP caucus there was a time during that period when it looked like the NDP might actually form government, let alone become the official opposition. The general anger at both the Liberals and Conservatives was that deep.

The NDP, at that time, did present a principled and steady image to Canadians, by heaping scorn equally on both the Liberals and the Conservatives.

The current strategy of targeting the Liberals is an abject failure in absolute terms (see all of the polls since the last election) and now it is beginning to make old NDP partisans uncomfortable.

In the past Dippers might not have had cause to worry but now there is another political party in this country who has taken over the mantle of being a party of principle. It is called the Green Party of Canada.

Between the Liberals and the Greens the NDP is going to be hard pressed to keep any of its green vote. Combine that with the Liberals anti-poverty measures in The Green Shift Plan the NDP could really be squeezed in the next election.

catherine said...

Did anyone else get an Ontario NDP flyer in the mail (I got mine today) asking you to sign a petition that would freeze property taxes until the house is sold? I lived in southern California after they implemented this, and watched their public services disappear while millionaires enjoyed property taxes that hadn't risen in over a decade. Why does the NDP want this?

The Ontario NDP, the BC NDP and the federal NDP all seem to be on a pay-less-tax kick. Cap and trade is a form of taxation, but the NDP is selling it as something that people are not going to notice financially, i.e. not-a-tax. Strange times.

Greg said...

I think we should all invite Ms. McDonald to post he reaction to Mr. Dion's actual plan, since she says she didn't have enough space to do it in the Star. I, for one, would like to get some intelligent analysis of the plan for a change, rather than partisan spin. As it stands now, all we have is one side of the story, that Mr. Layton is being dumb for completely dismissing the "idea" of a carbon tax. I agree. That is not the same thing as saying that we should all prostrate ourselves before the genius, Stephane Dion. Come on Ms. McDonald, let the other shoe drop. I suspect Steve will be surprised by your critique of the Liberal plan.

leftdog said...

So let me get this straight ... the New Democratic PARTY (which runs for elections) is p-o-l-i-t-i-c-a-l!! (Even though Lynne Macdonald is attempting to infuse some higher standards into the ring)!!

If this is the only criticism that Federal Liberals can hurl at the New Democrats ... boys you are in more trouble than you know and your days are surely numbered!

Have a nice day! :)

Steve V said...

"If this is the only criticism that Federal Liberals can hurl at the New Democrats ... boys you are in more trouble than you know and your days are surely numbered!"

Yes, clearly numbered. I'd say it's 50/50 whether or not the NDP hangs on to official party status in the next election.

Steve V said...

greg

I'm all for critique's of the plan, I don't think it's perfect, and to be honest I hope for some more tinkering as we move forward.

Mushroom said...

Steve,

The NDP getting less than 12 seats in the next federal election, for a grand loss of 18? I know that you are regretting lending your vote to the Dippers, but to seek the party's return to wilderness. This is almost like a wet dream to the Grits!!!

Seriously, Lynn is writing this as an academic and one who is not going to be in politics soon. She is actually calling for a carbon tax at source!!! Something that rejectionists to Kyoto in the early 1990s and advocates of the Third World are proposing. To get there we need a carbon tax first and more positive critiques of Dion's plan, as you mentioned. A cap and trade is the wrong track according to Lynn. Hope that Ed Broadbant jumps on board to support her!!!

Steve V said...

"The NDP getting less than 12 seats in the next federal election, for a grand loss of 18? I know that you are regretting lending your vote to the Dippers, but to seek the party's return to wilderness. This is almost like a wet dream to the Grits!!!"

True enough. I see loses though.

Sean S. said...

Steve, you criticize Layton/NDP for outright dismissing the Liberal plan, yet at the same time you do the same thing with the NDPs plan, why the hypocrisy?

What about the honest debate, you know, the one Dion challenged Harper to? The same honest debate he won't have with Layton?

Personally, I think we need both (carbon tax and cap n' trade), but I am not seeing much of an arguement coming from the Liberal side of the isle, at least the NDP is giving reasons for their opposition.

Finally, out here in Sask and Alberta it is the NDP that is going toe-to-toe with Harper and Co, outside of Goodale there isn't much happening on the Liberal front...so of course the NDP will go after both parties....stop being so Eastern-centric with your view of Canadian politics.

Steve V said...

"stop being so Eastern-centric with your view of Canadian politics."

Yawn me a river.

Sean S. said...

way to respond Steve, excellent point. Where's the honest debate?

JimBobby said...

Steve, you criticize Layton/NDP for outright dismissing the Liberal plan, yet at the same time you do the same thing with the NDPs plan, why the hypocrisy?

I ain't Steve and I ain't even a Grit but I'll try to answer you, Sean. The Liberal and Green plans do not dismiss the NDP's plan. They incorporate it into their two-pronged approach. This is not news. To say that anyone outright dismissing cap-and-trade is utter nonsense.

What is being dismissed is the idea that it must be ONLY cap-and-trade.

Most economists and environmentalists see merit in both tactics. The tactics are not mutually exclusive. They work effectively side-by-side in some European and Scandinavian countries.

When cap-and-trade is implemented alongside a carbon tax, there will be hard caps. Call them targets, if you wish.

Sean S. said...

I couldn't agree more JimBobby, we do need a two-pronged approach, and thank you for contributing to the "honest debate" apparently lacking from the author of this blog.

However, at this time the Liberals don't have a cap and trade on the table, and are not even talking about one..."trust me" doesn't work in politics and "trust me" from the Liberals counts for even less.

catherine said...

Sean, you say we need a two-pronged approach, but that seems to be at odds with what Layton says.

Layton: “Advocates of a carbon tax suggest that by making the costs for certain things more expensive, people will make different choices. But Canada is a cold place. Heating your home is not a choice... We should not punish people, but that is what a carbon tax does.”[May 22, and the NDP has devoted a page to criticisms of a carbon tax, suggesting Liberals and "big business" support it because it makes "ordinary people" pay, unlike cap and trade.]

Meanwhile, I haven't heard Dion attack cap and trade and haven't seen the LPC devote a page to criticizing cap and trade.

"For his part, Dion said cap and trade "makes a lot of sense.'' He said the Liberal plan will include both a carbon charge for big emitters and a carbon tax." [from CTV, May 28 NDP unveils carbon price plan, slams Liberal tax]

I think a lot of people are reacting to Layton and his outright attack on a carbon tax. I would be surprised if Layton would support any kind of carbon tax or two-pronged approach.

Steve V said...

"I think a lot of people are reacting to Layton and his outright attack on a carbon tax."

Bingo! It's not like people completely reject Layton's ideas, they are criticizing his outright rejection of the two-pronged approach, and rightly seeing it as a political calculation. That's where the disappointment stems from, that's the reason for the hostility.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with criticizing the "pay to pollute" Carbon Tax? There are a variety of different ways to deal with global warming. Many people with sterling environmental credentials happen to believe that the "pay to pollute" Carbon Tax is a very ineffective policy that simply won't make any difference in the battle against global warming. In fact the Liberals plan has no targets and is just based on some vague hope that a few cents of extra charges on carbon will miraculously lead to drastic reductions in GHG emissions. The NDP has every right to criticize a policy that it thinks is bad public policy.

catherine said...

anon, of course the NDP has the right to say what they want. And we have the right to react to that. And environmental groups have the right to rebut what they see as misinformation.

Sweden and others have had success with a carbon tax before they added a cap and trade on top. I'm not aware of any country having success with a carbon cap and trade without also having a substantial carbon tax on at least some fuels at the same time. However, I'd be interested in learning about an example if you can provide one. In any case, I support both systems.