Today's scrum in Niagara Falls:
Ignatieff was asked to clarify his statement about raising taxes.
>> Mr. Michael Ignatieff: I said no such thing. I said no such thing. What I said was that mr. Harper has landed the country in an $80 billion deficit, and sooner or later we'll figure out how we get out of that. There are a couple of ways to go. One is tough expenditure reviews squeezing every bit of waste out of the federal government. The other way to reallocate expenditure from one priority to another. And then the other way, the third way is to get stimulus into the economy, so we get economic activity returning. We get growth up, we get tax revenues increasing, and the deficit is slowly squeezed out of the system. But I was asked a hypothetical question, what if none of that works? And no honest politician faced with an 80 billion deficit will take anything off the table because Canadians do not want, they are allergic long-term structural deficits. But I would do anything i can, any sensible politician would do anything they can to avoid increasing the tax burden on Canadians. Especially now. And hopefully later as well.
I like the "last resort" presentation, especially because it summarizes in detail the policies that would be put in place prior to any consideration. If anything, this type of answer shows a methodical thought process, which still includes a dose of realism. That mature answer is a far cry from the Conservative hysterics, although we all understand that "truth" isn't necessarily part of the political equation.
If this is our standard response, then its success will largely be a function of the leader's ability to articulate. We can debate the wisdom of entertaining the mere mention of taxes- particularly when that far reaching realism isn't necessarily required now- but this debate is a work in progress, any definite conclusion is premature. Ignatieff is clear, no new taxes during an economic downturn. That is a key point, and I have faith Ignatieff and the Liberals can make that case clearly. Leaving the door open, contrasted with Harper's disingenuous sales pitch, might just help Ignatieff's appeal, if there's a straight talk component, as opposed to telling you what you want to hear. Whatever, for better or worse, I have this sneaking suspicion that this issue isn't going away and may be a focus in a future election.