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.