Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Great Travesty

There he was again last night, the Prime Minister delivering another scathing attack on the Liberals Green Shift. At a time of economic uncertainty, the last thing the Canadian economy needs is some half-baked scheme that will punish ordinary people, a tax "on everything". What is truly staggering, and I think any fair minded observer would agree, the fact Harper has been allowed to tour the country, attacking the Liberals for their plan, while simultaneously hiding his own plan, a plan which acknowledges exactly the same hike "on everything". The sheer hypocrisy is amazing, more unbelievable, the fact our media has yet to call Harper on the logically disconnect.

We will have concluded an entire campaign, without one reporter positing the simplest of questions, a free ride of biblical proportions. It's the equivalent of Dion continually arguing that the Conservatives favor corporate tax cuts, pandering to big business, without anyone pointing out that the Liberals favor the same policy. In other words, the most ridiculous of contentions, and yet Harper is allowed to spew the nonsense, unchecked and not held to account.

The Liberals came out with a press release, that will surely be ignored, but it really is an objective point:
It is bad enough that Mr. Harper has skated through the election campaign without being honest with Canadians about what a fraud his climate change plan is, but Mr. Harper’s failure to be honest about the increased costs his plan will place on consumers—at the pump and otherwise—is simply inexcusable.

Every independent analysis of Mr. Harper’s climate change plan has determined it will not meet its own modest targets. These include studies by: CIBC, Deutsche Bank, Pembina Institute, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, CD Howe Institute, National Energy Board, and National Round Table on Environment and the Economy.

This week, 230 leading Canadian economists noted in an open letter to Canada’s federal party leaders that “all carbon reduction policies increase the prices individuals face” and concluded that reducing emissions through regulation, as Mr. Harper plans to do, “is the most expensive way to meet a given climate change goal.”

And while Mr. Harper plans a complex regulatory system that will lead to a price on carbon of $65 a tonne, his government has yet to release its final regulations and refuses to come clean and tell Canadians about the additional costs his plan will create before the October 14 vote.

While Mr. Harper plans to price carbon at $65 per tonne, he fails to be honest about this with Canadians on the hustings. Worse, Mr. Harper has no plan to help Canadians offset these additional costs with tax cuts on personal income, business and investments.

Nobody can deny the above, because the Conservatives own language admits a cost "which isn't trivial", the price of fossil fuels will increase, and the trickle down will result in increased costs for secondary items. That's a simple fact, that's the Conservatives own characterization. And yet, Harper is allowed to claim the Liberals are dangerous because they would do what he would do, minus the tax cut side to balance. In the final analysis, without the tax relief, one could easily argue that the Conservative plan would punish Canadians in a much more substantive way than the Liberal plan. Crickets, nobody seems to acknowledge this elemental fact, the media continually allows Harper to present his intellectually dishonest attack, without any critical questioning.

I'm hard pressed to find another example where one party has been given such a free ride, on such a central issue in a campaign. The entire Conservative argument is predicated on the carbon tax, it is their main thrust, and yet nobody seems to notice the contradiction, nobody finds it necessary to asked the pointed questions. Partisanship aside, that Stephen Harper has been allowed to mislead Canadians without being held to account, is the great travesty of this election. It really is...


Dame said...

The public must strangle the media as their greatest enemy...
Freedom lost


Robert McClelland said...

Maybe the Liberals and liberals should have spent less time attacking the NDP and more time bringing this up. I haven't heard Dion mention the cost Canadians will have to bear with Harper's plan even once on the campaign.

Steve V said...


Then, you're not paying attention. And, please spare me the one-sided analysis of who's attacking who, I suggest you look at your party ads, or listen to a Layton stump speech. What a CROCK.

Constant Vigilance said...

I can understand CanWest and CTV etal. But can anyone explain the CBC giving Harper (and Layton) the nudge and wink?

I just listened to the 7 o'clock news and (as through out the campaign), a piece on Harper, a piece on Layton and nothing on Dion. Even with the rally that Chretien spoke at. It is like the Liberals aren't running. When the deficit is admitted to, the Reform Party will use this as the excuse to eviscerate the CBC.

RuralSandi said...

CBC - it's all about funding and saving their jobs.

The others: funding by taxpayer (yup, they get funding from taxpayers too), perhaps new CRTC rules that would make megga profits for them?

No integrity - just money, money, money.

So much for the voice of the people and integrity in the media.

Too bad we couldn't start a paper called the Voice of the People, that would include stories from ALL parties, truth, opinions, and real news.

This is just so shameful.

I don't and won't buy newspapers. I don't watch CTV anymore.

Do you realize what it costs taxpayers to fund these mega media groups, the neverending commercials, the infomercials and cable costs - for what?

Anonymous said...

I agree it is shameful. It is also the most egregious oversight I have seen in any campaign so I agree with you fully, Steve.

It appears Canadian media are following the US lead, where most of the time media won't dwell on a topic unless a campaign does first.

I don't get it but it is true.

So there is some validity to the point that Dion or one of the team should have vocalized this in speeches. That is one of the reasons you'll hear my "get someone in front of a microphone" soap-box comments every once in a while.

I saw it in the US, and Canada seems to be following suit (sadly).

It ain't "news" unless the other parties are saying it. I'm not sure how far that goes. Guess if a candidate strangles a small child during a rally, that might get noticed at some point. But it will probably get greater mention if the opposition party leader brings it up on the stump as well ; ).

It SHOULD NOT be that way, but for some reason it is.

Strangely, the US now seems to be doing a (mildly) better job, at least CNN issues routine "fact checks" on ads and charges in the campaign. CBC seems to have something like that, but you have to look at it, and it is so vague as to not really add much value in my opinion.

ONE QUESTION - Are there any updated Harris Decima numbers this morning? I haven't seen any today, just yesterday's 34 26 number.

Anonymous said...

My response to complaints about the state of the media is to post this link. It is funded by people - no gov't, advertising, or corporate funding. It was launched earlier this year on the internet with plans to move to TV eventually. It is promised as global news. The editor is Paul Jay, a Canadian.

My only complaint since watching it develop itself in the last couple years is that it is very US-centric, but then isn't everything? This Canadian election received almost zero coverage, I think I noticed two interviews posted this past month. Either the editorial board there doesn't believe Canada warrants more attention or Canadians are not yet supporting this news organization.


Steve V said...

But, the Liberals have brought it up, time and time, this latest press release another example. Never once has the theme been picked up. This is the CENTRAL issue, it's not Cadman or EC, it's the whole Con argument, and it goes unchecked. And the kicker, when the dust settles, we will read many a column and story, lamenting the lack of substance in our political discourse.

Even worse, the rest of us, that follow politics, amplify or reject what is important, what can move the polls, based on how sensational the talking point, we look for the gotcha, because we know that's all they care about, that's all that matters to the media.

JimmE said...

Ya gatta love the liberal media elite!
What I don't understand about the coverage of this campaign is summedup in an event early in the campaign. I drove by a location where the present PM was speaking in downtown Toronto. The campaign buses were outside. The sidewalk was full of protesters.
When I watched the news story later, not one shot of a protester - why? Makes me wonder, how many more protests were ignored by the media?

Gayle said...

Yeah but, the media always said the Green Shift was complicated, and Dion was ineffective, so why would they do anything to contradict their own preconceived notions???

Jack said...

I could barely find anything about Cadman in the paper today. You'd think this would be BIG news.

You'd think major journalists would be asking pointed questions about what Harper knew and when he knew it.


The "liberal" media is resigned to allowing Harper to have his minority government.

I love it how the green shift has gotten generally positive reviews from BOTH economists and environmentalists throughout this campaign. You'd think such a widely endorsed proposal would gain more respect and notice from the same media that has always lambasted the Liberals for not achieving their emissions reduction targets.


These are excerpts from the Globe and Mail editorial response to a reader asking why they're endorsing Harper despite his poor record on the environment:

"But (the Conservatives) have been right to argue that the issue is a global problem that requires global solutions. Canada cannot end climate change alone. It needs to be a truly international effort that includes countries like China, India and Brazil. This is something the Conservatives, correctly, have argued for...remember the Liberal's miserable track record on climate change...remember that they signed the Kyoto accord and then promptly failed to live up to the spirit of that accord...Conservatives inherited a disastrous environment track record from the Liberals..."

Give me a break. They're basically aping Conservative talking points about past Liberal disappointments without evaluating the two parties' GHG-reduction plans on their own merits.

And are they are honestly suggesting that Canada is fine in doing essentially NOTHING since the ENTIRE FRICKIN' WORLD isn't on board? I mean, at least the Liberals have been legitimately TRYING in that regard with Kyoto. By comparison, how effective have the Conservatives been in getting this "international effort" going? I don't think the Globe and Mail really wants to answer that question.

This is quite simply lazy journalism from a biased and complacent media, IMO.

JimmE said...

Lazy & media in the same sentence is redundant.

Gayle said...

I think the real reason why they are not calling Harper on this is because they do not believe he will ever implement this policy...and they don't care about that.

Sorry NDP, but the truth is that if people do care about the environment, they have to vote liberal. I know Layton wants more seats, but they will be at the expense of our environment.

Constant Vigilance said...

Perhaps I am older than the rest of the commenters but I can remember a time when policies were thrashed out in the news and reporters did ask Clark, Trudeau and Broadbent pointed questions and they wouldn't tolerate hiding like Layton and Harper are getting away with now.

I have a faint hope that since the my kids and their friends live such an on-line life that bloggers and a the divergent source of information can be like pamphleteers like during Voltaire's time. The printing press allowed them to spread the progressive ideas of their day beyond what the ruling class could control.

The attempts to control expression on the internet may be aimed at trying to stifle just such a thing happening again.

Anonymous said...


I know there have been press releases. My point is paper media is almost a lost cause at this point. Video media will, however, still tend to show leaders speaking. So unless a leader speaks in the current environment in front of a camera, it won't get reported.

One other difference in Canada media and US media is the US paper media do tend to display the contents of "official" releases from campaigns. In Canada, you might as well hand out copies on street corners if you hope anyone not already invested in their party will actually ever see any statement from a campaign in print.

I agree completely the media is dropping the ball. That has been clear to me since I was about 15 (no kidding). I've watched media decline for two decades in their actual willingness to actually do their job on a campaign. It is ALL about the horse-race now. They report on the horse-race. Why bring up the doping the reporter witnessed before the race started when you can just watch "all those pretty horses down there on the track" instead.

So in that environment, the campaigns have to incorporate the facts and counter the lies and omissions in the framing they offer and the campaign scripts they present to the viewing public.

I think campaigns are going to have to start producing their own videos on subject matter and send them out to the world in that fashion.

Picture a "THE TRUTH ABOUT THE GREEN SHIFT" 5-minute video, well-produced with details, expert insights, and personal direct conversations with Dion and key leaders" explaining the plan and DIRECTLY confronting the lies and myths about the plan.

Send it out to the world virally with great fanfare, post on youtube and the like, and direct folks to it in an accompanying commercial spot.

Do that to get your message out. The ironic result is the media might actually cover it as well, but it would be because the campaign made it part of the horse-race, never even acknowledging the campaign just did their job for them.

Jack said...

Hey, and just a thing about the Dion/CTV interview fiasco...

I think this is going to be HUGE in Quebec. My experience is that the things that seem to fly under the radar in English Canada are often BIG TIME stories in Quebec.

Look at Harper's "ordinary people" comment on the arts. To us, that was just Harper being Harper. To Quebecers, that was practically an affront to their cultural values.

With this interview, MAYBE it makes Dion look bad to some in English Canada, but I think it could turn him into a virtual martyr in Quebec.

Maybe I'm overstating matters. Maybe it'll have little effect. Maybe it'll just help the Bloc more than the Libs.

But I just have this feeling...

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I want to see what Nanos has to say, of course, which caveats all the following . . .

Decima is out showing 35 Con, 25 Lib with the conservatives appearing to have momentum, particularly in Ontario, and increased signs of vote splitting of the progressive vote.

If the trend continues, Harper could get a slim majority folks. I'm just resigning myself to the real possibility - particularly now that people seem to believe it "can't" happen.

I hope not, but the trends in the past couple of days aren't promising.

Willam said...

If I want to find out the real news in North America or elsewhere I read a few English newspapers on line. For over a year they have been discussing the credit crises and solutions and four months ago the topic of this week, credit card debt and what to do about it.

While European journalists still write articles of often a page in length giving background as well as all sides to the issue almost all North America writers concentrate on the two hundred word sound bite column. In fact most writers on this side of the ocean seem to have learned their trade at the national enquirer because the vast number of articles that somehow have media "stars" linked to them is staggering.

Just like the Canadian banking system that still operates under those "old fashioned" rules and has less problems than countries that have a "modern" system, maybe we need to send our media back to school to relearn what their job really is, to present the news in an unbiased way that explores all sides of an issue and lets the reader decide what they believe the answer to be rather than telling them.

Gayle said...

"If the trend continues, Harper could get a slim majority folks. I'm just resigning myself to the real possibility - particularly now that people seem to believe it "can't" happen."

At least the polls are showing it now, so people are being told it can happen.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Gayle, but it is a holiday weekend and most people don't wait for the polls the way we (or at least I do ; ) as an election nears.

I'm thinking more of the prevaling mindset on the street that it will be another minority. I'm just saying Canada could wake up on Tuesday with a majority government they didn't think they wanted "in general."

I don't mean to sound negative. I'm just mentally preparing myself, and I am a little miffed about two things today:

First, here's an article on a speech Dion just gave -

Good Stuff! Excellent Stuff! But why now - why on the Saturday before the election? Shouldn't this have been the first speech of the campaign instead of one of the last? It is a speech that frames the essential meaning of this election, but it is given long after Harper, the media, and everyone else has defined the race, and long after most people have in some way decided themselves - or with the help of the above - determined what they feel their vote means in this election. So the message is strong but not so timely in my opinion.

Secondly, I saw another article about an interview with Dion saying the implementation of health care platform plans and some other priorities might be delayed a couple of years due to the financial situation, but explaining that the Green Shift would go forward. I just don't get what that adds to the final argument in a campaign. I love the Liberal party, damn it! I really do. But talk about brutal honesty. God love him, but I just don't see how that factors into the closing arguments of a campaign, especially when the plan is to review the entire financial situation in the first 30 days of a Liberal government in light of the current crisis. It is one of the rare times where my "idealistic" spirit is being over-ridden by my "strategist" mind, which just lurched when I read it. There is honesty and there is taking aim at your feet and body parts in order to make sure you're being brutally honest to everyone to a final tee.

So I'm just trying to get my head around the purpose of those two "new" additions to the campaign.

I truly hope some people hear that first article message in Ontario this weekend and changes their mind in a critical riding. I truly do. But I just don't understand why it took so long to elevate it as a central message of the campaign.

Dame said...

Hmmm the today Nanos has this ..


CP 32, LP 28, NDP 22, BQ 10, GP 8

After all the obit. newspapers and big guys of the newspapers are singing like goons...

Anonymous said...

I just saw that as well. I am relieved to see the Nanos numbers, though he still shows cons with a mild advantage in Ontario whereas it was markedly advantage Liberal earlier this week.

I hear Ipsos shows a tightening race as well, which is encouraging.

Good news. I'm glad. Sorry to be so wordy today ; ), I don't talk politics with my partner since I love them too much ; ). Sorry to bore you all with my angst ; ).

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone.

Steve V said...

It's good angst Joseph :)