Saturday, August 02, 2008

It's A Simple Question Really

One of the most amazing aspects of this entire climate change policy debate, the fact that the Conservatives can't seem to find ANY independent, unbiased, backing of their plan. The Liberals can cite expert opinion, so too the Greens and NDP. That fact speaks to a certain credibility, it isn't just political nuance, the various initiatives part of a real debate, amongst those who are analyzing honestly.

Today, another opinion weighs in, once again questioning the validity of the Conservatives policy. This time, National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, which basically says the Conservatives numbers just don't add up to much:
The Harper government might be overestimating how much its climate-change plan will lower greenhouse gases, says a federal advisory panel.
Flaws in government calculations could skew projections around the Tories' green policies, the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy says in a report to be released Saturday.

"Some problems persist with how individual policy measures are calculated and with their projected emission reductions," the report says.

"Individual policy measures continue to be presented without these sources of overestimation adequately being taken into account."

However, a spokeswoman for Environment Minister John Baird said the government is confident in its estimates.

The last part is the relevant issue here. The Minister is "confident in his estimates". Well, that's nice, but it begs a simple question- Mr. Baird, could you please direct me to one expert in Canada, one group, one international group for that matter, that can confirm you plan will do what you argue? I mean, this is too the point of nonsensical, the Conservatives have nothing apart from their own spin to support their policy, and yet, they are continually allowed to just spew out figures and brag about effectiveness, in a world that doesn't seem to find any connection to reality.

Rather than journalists allowing Baird equal time, as they continually do on the issue, their role should be to challenge the assertions. Our media isn't a passive observer, that just allows everyone a forum in the name of misguided fairness, it is supposed to verify the veracity of the claims. If the Conservative plan is as tough as they argue, then surely its proponents can point to outside support? If not, as the case may be, then it is incumbent on the media to highlight this fact.

In any policy debate, it is generally easy to find some sympathetic voices, the array of opinion from various "expert" corners, some level of support, somewhere, almost a given. The most striking thing about this supposed "debate", that will be brought to the Canadian people, the Conservatives are naked, all they have is their own spin, really nothing but bluster. Moving forward, the media fails by treating this plan with respect and simply quote the various talking points, is so then they are just conduits for propaganda. Next time, when Baird appears to defend his plan, or attack others, ask him the simple question, and when he turns red and side swipes the issue, Canadians will have their answer. The Conservative plan is an objective FRAUD, and should be treated as such. That's not my opinion, that's EVERYONE'S opinion, partisans or stakeholders aside.


knb said...

I can't think of a journalist well enough versed on the subject to ask the simple questions, let alone the tough ones.

Sadly, I think we'll have to wait for the election debates and hope that Harper will be properly challenged.

It really is something to watch any interview with Baird. Even if someone does mention that his targets are intensity based, he just parrots 'We have real targets...'

Our media isn't a passive observer

Sadly it is, though it's not meant to be. It's odd really. Having watched their US counterparts employ these passive measures and having been called on it, you'd think that the Canadian media would have learned something.

Anonymous said...

The opposition parties have to be carefull to avoid target numbers when talking about the environment as this is wat the cons. will focus on. Anyone can make a plan and pick a number and find an "expert" to verify that number which is what the cons. are doing now. They attack the green shift because it has few hard numbers but and call it "social engeneering". The Liberals should be proclaiming proudly that is exactly what it is. A comprehensive, co-ordinated plan to increase the price on pollution while shielding those least able to afford the price from the effects of pushing industry to change. With Obama's announcement of help for the poor to cover basic increases in the cost of living, he joins many countries trying to do the same thing with a series of programs that are not co-ordinated but rather ad hoc thoughts on the fly. Sound familiar?

The second area the opposition can destroy Harper is the fact that despite China and India dragging their feet, the world is moving towards a global price on carbon. Not only because of global warming but because blobalism as practiced toda is a complete failure and many countries including this one need to rebuild their national economies and the easiest way is to put a price on carbon that will offset much of the labour cost imbalance that is hurting us so much today.

If the opposition parties were smart and co-ordinated their attacks Harper could be reducedto Alberta and a few other seats in the next election. While I can see the Bloc and Greens doing this for survival, Layton is so out of touch with reality beleiving Harper when he says that he can be the opposition leader that he will single handedly give the cons. at least thirty seats they would otherwise not earn.

knb said...

Good points anon and bang on about Layton.

The Mound of Sound said...

Your point is solid, Steve, but, as Paul Krugman noted in the NYT, scientific reality can mean nothing:

"Now for the bad news: sheer irresponsibility may be a winning political strategy.

Mr. McCain’s claim that opponents of offshore drilling are responsible for high gas prices is ridiculous — and to their credit, major news organizations have pointed this out. Yet Mr. McCain’s gambit seems nonetheless to be working: public support for ending restrictions on drilling has risen sharply, with roughly half of voters saying that increased offshore drilling would reduce gas prices within a year.

Hence my concern: if a completely bogus claim that environmental protection is raising energy prices can get this much political traction, what are the chances of getting serious action against global warming? After all, a cap-and-trade system would in effect be a tax on carbon (though Mr. McCain apparently doesn’t know that), and really would raise energy prices.

The only way we’re going to get action, I’d suggest, is if those who stand in the way of action come to be perceived as not just wrong but immoral."

North of 49 said...

Steve: Our media isn't a passive observer.

KNB: Sadly it is...

Or... it pimps for Harper's non-plan either directly, by passing along the Con's assertions as if they were fact, or indirectly, by attacking the Green Shift itself.

Case in point, Fazil Mihlar's op-ed in today's (Saturday's) Vancouver Sun, where he floats the oh-so-scary chicken-little bogeyman of Western (OMG!) Separation.

Western Separation? No! Yes! Thanks to Dion's Green Shift, which is just like the NEP, no really, which was so egregious, discriminatory, unfair and just plain Eastern that it made Alberta so angry it's still a part of Canada thirty years later -- but really really mad, see?

Not a word in defence of Harper's non-plan in the whole screed, nor even a mention of NDP or Green alternative plans; nor, actually, any factual detail about the Green Shift itself, just this unsupported-by-facts speculation that Alberta and Saskatchewan are like that close to seceding from the federation a-a-a-and, oh the irony, the very same Stephane Dion's Clarity Act has made it easier for them to pull out, ha-ha yer pwned, Steph!

(Or words to that effect. I might have improved on the original a little.)

Seriously, if that's the best shot at the Green Shift from one of the right-wing's most faithful water-carriers, they've got nuthin'.

knb said...

north of 49, I saw that op-ed and just shook my head.

This whole NEP thing keeps popping up, but other than the party faithful, I don't know who buys it.

I wasn't familiar with the author, but you seem to have nailed him.

You're correct in that the right have nothing, but the problem is they make the noise that remains unchallenged.

Has Dion sat down with Steve Paikin since he announced the Green Shift?

Actually, I'd settle for Paikin having Baird and McGuinty on at the same time. Then another interview with Cullen and McGuinty.

Problem is though, prima donna Baird won't appear with anyone else. (I know that's not all that unusual for a Minister, but you gotta get them in when you can, ;).

Anonymous said...

"If the opposition parties were smart and co-ordinated their attacks Harper could be reducedto Alberta and a few other seats in the next election."

What have you been smoking? This is not the Mulroney government in 1992 rattling around at 12% support and single digit approval ratings. The current Tory government is consistently at about the same level of support as they got in the last election and they get 50% or higher approval numbers.

Can they lose some seats to the opposition parties? Yes. Is there any possibility in the near future of them being reduced to a rump of only Alberta and a handful of other seats in the rural west. NO!

Steve V said...

" The current Tory government is consistently at about the same level of support as they got in the last election and they get 50% or higher approval numbers."

What are you smoking? Harper loses to "neither" in PM choice, consistently 2/3 disagree with him on just about everything. My goodness, accusing others with a big bong wafting in the background.

Anonymous said...

I'm referring to questions on overall approval of the government - not "Best PM" - and if were you i would avoid making any reference to any polling on Best PM, since Dion tends to get about 10% and be behind, Harper, Layton, Neither AND Undecided.

Steve V said...


Why avoid it, the fact Dion polls so low should work to Harper's advantage, and YET IT DOESN'T. That tells you all you need to about your "theory". And, people don't approve of this government, in fact about 68-70% say so everytime a poll comes out. Hello.

Anonymous said...

If you think all these polls and indicators are so good for the Liberals, why have the Liberals been humiliating themselves for the past eight months propping up Harper for no other reason than that they are scared shitless of having an election???

knb said...

Knocking on an empty vessel doesn't provide a reliable response Steve.

Hmmm, did I read that somewhere or just make it up?

Steve V said...

I don't think they're "so good", but the Libs are certainly competitive. What I can't take seriously is this nonsense about how popular this government is with Canadians. They just aren't, and the more you point to the feeble Liberals, the more it begs the question- why can't Harper take advantage? If the roles were reversed, the Liberals would be up 15% right now.

Steve V said...


That's a good one. Make sure to get a trademark ;)

Anonymous said...

My only point is that the Harper government is popular enough that there is no chance at all of them being reduced to a rump of "just Alberta and a handful of other seats". For that to happen, I'd have to see their popular vote in the low 20s and flirting with Mulroney-style unpopularity.

Anonymous said...

ANON 6:38pm

You obviously missed my point. Polls mean nothing in the big picture. Harper is in danger already because the majority of his solid support is concentrated in the ridings he controls now especially in the west and is weak every where else. The only hope he has is to stay on his knees in front of Layton to split the opposition and confuse issues.

If Layton had half a brain he would realize that us westerners would never vote Liberal but we have voted NDP in the past and we could be persuaded in the future if he could show that Harper has no plan. In that case he could easily become opposition leader and wait for a new PC party to emerge from the ashes to trounce the Liberals in the next election. He must be using the same substance you are if he has fantasies of doing so with Harper.

Steve V said...

"My only point is that the Harper government is popular enough that there is no chance at all of them being reduced to a rump of "just Alberta and a handful of other seats".

I agree on that for sure.

wilson said...

'why can't Harper take advantage?'

The answer is in the 'undecideds'.
Regardless of what some birdie told dion, Canadians are not interested in going to the polls.

What do the history books say about citizens voting out a Conservative government in the beginning of an economic downturn?

Factor in that many people have cell phones, and don't have land lines, polls are pretty unrealiable.
As evidenced in Outremont and the Alberta provincial election.

Once an election is called, the undecideds will 'talk' to the pollsters, pick one.
But will they go vote, or sit on their hands?

''Harper/Dion is in danger already because the majority of his solid support is concentrated in the ridings he controls now especially in the west/Toronto and is weak every where else.''

Steve V said...


You're spin seems to get more feeble by the day. It's gone from annoying to WHATEVER.