Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Finally, An "Adult" Enters The Room

If there's one positive to sinking fortunes, it tends to wake people from their slumber and realize that the status quo is a path to failure. As I've argued before, the Liberals "play it safe" strategy was dubious at best, primarily because it relied on the government self imploding, rather than offering an attractive alternative. Even when the Liberals were higher in the polls, much of the movement was more a move away from the Conservatives, rather than a powerful DRAW towards the Liberals- this explains why things have changed radically in recent weeks.

If you're going to defeat this government, you MUST get ahead of the curve on the economic file, you must be BOLD. Liberals are fearful, the recent Dion example seared in their minds, but this state has lead to a paralysis, which leads the party to nowhere. The primiary obstacle the Liberals face, people can't identify with their brand, we're wishy washy, we lack FORM. With that in mind, I have nothing but applause for this new thrust:
Michael Ignatieff is preparing to embark on apolitically risky "adult conversation" with Canadians about the painful measures necessary to eliminate the country's ballooning deficit including the possibility of tax hikes.

Senior party insiders told The Canadian Press that the Liberalleader is about to launch a blunt discussion of the realistic options available for staunching the flow of red ink. That includes tax increases, major spending cuts, remaining mired in deficit for years longer than anticipated, or some combination of the three.

Risk vs reward. I would much rather have some blunt talk, than simply ignoring the "elephant in the room". Any conversation must also include a CHALLENGE to the media conduit- you bitch about a lack of substance, then have the courtesy to intelligently discuss a credible and realistic assessment. Ignatieff will find allies within the economic community, the EXPERTS who know full well the current numbers don't add up and structural deficit is a reality. Ignatieff has wiggle room on the timing, because the future is still unclear- this means tax hikes aren't necessarily a certainty, but an option, say in 2 or 3 years if certain benchmarks aren't met or forecasts fall further.

If Liberals want to seize the economic file, then we must present ourselves as the one's ready to deal with this daunting circumstance. This circumstance precludes "take a pass" scenarios, that try to fluff over future realities for present gain. If the Liberals tuck in behind the Conservative shadow on the deficit, then we have no need for a serious debate, but this posture almost guarantees electoral defeat. ONLY, if the Liberals drive the debate do we stand a chance. Why would you volunatarily cede a central election issue with your own timidity? If one does "play it safe", how then do you plan to defeat this government, on what other file? The deficit and future economic prosperity is THE issue, any strategy which merely mirrors the government plays into their hands. There is no need to replace a government when the opposition is offering more of the same, when they have no credibility because they take a pass on BIG problems on the horizon.

I applaud Ignatieff, no matter the circumstance that's led to this epiphany. Let's have an adult conversation, and if we go down because we spoke the truth, then Canadians have themselves to blame, but we were honest participants in this discussion.

UPDATE

Oh nevermind, nothing to see here.

Maybe they'll self destruct, or maybe it isn't the spring anymore :)

31 comments:

Eugene Forsey Liberal said...

This may surprise you, F&W, but I think you are right about this one. I hope this is indeed the track taken. This changes nothing about my view of Iggy, but the right thing is the right thing. If this is the course pursued, I would predict three stages, potentially:
a) admiring courage at first - increased popularity
b) followed by attacks (taxes! cuts!) which are amped by usual sources - decreased popularity
c) depending how well Lib team maintains tone "we're adults" and communicates, if hang on, will end up winners on this crucial issue, around which next election will probably be fought.
I say three stages because if fold or lose message after stage II of attacks, then all is lost. But potentially big winner. Would be nice if also some honesty about need for carbon taxing and controlling oil sands emissions. Doubtful though.
PS. Your head can stop exploding now.

Steve V said...

"PS. Your head can stop exploding now."

That would imply I give anything you say a second thought. That assumption would be misplaced, because I don't. Still waiting for an "adult" to enter the comment section, you're just an emotionally immature 11 year old. Iggiot out.

Anyways...

Eugene Forsey Liberal said...

Ah F&W, glad to see you didn't lose any of your wit and charm during your hiatus.

Steve V said...

Truth hurts.


Shoo little man, shoo.

Steph C said...

WWDLD = What would David Letterman do?

Alex K said...

The Conservatives have been very successful with the KISS strategy. KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID: "Not a leader" ; "Carbon tax"; "Just visiting"; “Just in it for himself” ;"Economy vs. Election." It's very easy for the media to echo such simple messages in 5 second sound-bites.

According to some recent polls, the Liberals have already become the party of University graduates. Maybe I am being too cynical, but it is the simple-minded people the Liberals need to convince, not the "adults".

Steve V said...

I get the KISS idea, and it does work. That said, this really is a very simple proposition, that ordinary Canadians do understand. It's not complicated, it's a basic premise that all of us deal with in our day to day lives. I think the "simple minded" people understand things like debt, income. This isn't an abstract concept, and while it's prone to soundbite retorts, if you engage now, it might just get to a serious point.

MarpMan said...

Either way, the LPC needs to identify itself and 'laying it out there' gets my vote.
I know people who think the $1,200 tax credit for kids is fantastic...forgetting that a true plan for child-care was skipped. Its those people I hope these messages reach.

Koby said...

I see no chance of this working. As Tom Flanagan crowed after the 2006 election, there are certain issues that favour the Conservatives and the economy is one. No matter how successful the Liberals were in balancing the books and creating jobs, Conservative research suggested that when it came to economics people trusted the Conservatives more than they did the Liberals. If the economy is the issue, the Liberals stand no chance.

The Liberals are proud of what they were able to accomplish during the 1990s. The rest of county sees things differently. Most have forgotten, still others do not care, and those that do care harbour hard feelings. If Ignatieff thinks that talk of service cuts and tax increases can spirit him towards election glory, the Liberals are even worse off the lastest polls show.

Koby said...

Childcare:

Give the Tories credit. In marked contrast to the Liberal early childhood education plan, the Tory baby bonus is universal, and did not take years to implement. Once upon a time the Liberals believed in universality. However, beyond half heartedly defending universal social programs they introduced in the 1960s, the Liberals idea of universality these days is pandering to all groups in equal measure. Ever since Martin the Liberals have supported nothing but means tested social programs and not surprisingly the portion of the populace that is not eligible --pretty much everybody --- prefers Tory offer of tax cuts instead

Gayle said...

I give the conservatives no credit for giving my tax dollars to millionaires just because they happen to have children.

Lizt. said...

I know perhaps Michael will be blunt but won't the Cons take fits, the media go ballistics over the words tax hikes...I told you so, I told you so.

Woman at Mile 0 said...

I totally disagree that families preferred a measly tax cut Koby to real, accessible, quality child care. Child care spaces are not restricted to only parents eligible for subsidy. All parents can use them.

When government doesn't support the creation new spaces then there are no spaces period for those who do have money to pay for them or those that don't. The profit margin in care is low if it is quality care and that is what we want for our young children.

Moreover the Govt of Ontario (4's, 5's) and BC (5's) could have used that money towards their all day kindergarten plans which are open to all parents at no cost whether the parent works or not. They can use the regular half day or a full day depending on needs.

These governments are going ahead with these previous commitments given their promises to parents, but there are also cuts happening in schools now. If the Cons were kicking in like they should perhaps that wouldn't have been necessary to get it up and running.

Platty said...

Maybe I am being too cynical, but it is the simple-minded people the Liberals need to convince, not the "adults"


And you wonder why Canadians are put off by Liberal arrogance?

==

Alex K said...

If you click on that same link again, you'll find out that original source of info was an "insider". Ignatieff denied the rumours later today. re-affirming that taxes will not raised by a Liberal government, however, the Cons are already on the attack.

Remember, Dion produced the worst Liberal showing in history, partially as a result of an adult conversation about environment.

With our media, elections are truly not the time to discuss policy. They are popularity contests. Harper's gala performance apparently was much more important to the media than any policy announcement could have been.

Steve V said...

I stand corrected, we've decided to play in Harper's wake.

Koby said...

"I totally disagree that families preferred a measly tax cut Koby to real, accessible, quality child care."

A baby bonus is not a tax cut; it is a baby bonus. But before we go any further let me say this. I believe that child care is badly needed in Canada and nothing would please me more if the Liberals committed themselves to meeting the child care needs of all Canadians rather than just 10 to 15% they committed to before.

That said, my point was about the salability of means tested social policies and inadequately funded "universal" social programs. The Liberals are kidding themselves if they think they can win elections about promising benefits to one group of people and having us all pay for that program. It should also be noted that the would benefiticaries of such policies are better served if that program was universal. It is next to impossible to roll back a universal social policy; it is infinitely easier to cut means tested policy.

As for giving the baby bonus to millionaires, Gayle why not make the same argument when it comes to health care?

Koby said...

"'The public is ill-equipped to deal with'

And you wonder why Canadians are put off by Liberal arrogance?"

That is rich Platty. Alex was just pointing the Conservative's guiding assumption.

Platty said...

What the hell are you talking about? Alex talks about having to talk down to Canadians and you are telling me that I'm being rich? Give your head a shake....


--

Steve V said...

"Remember, Dion produced the worst Liberal showing in history, partially as a result of an adult conversation about environment. "

I don't like the analogy, to be honest. I loved the green shift, but it was killer to try and sell at the door. It really wasn't complicated but it seemed like it to average folks. Deficits, we've all seen this movie before. If you were to come with a cost cutting program, certain projections, then reaccess in two years, leave it on the table, I think you could pull it off. Ignatieff never has to commit, as part of our plan, but leaving the door open in the future, after exhausting other avenues, recognizing the uncertainty, I think he'll appear refreshing.

The green shift terrifies Liberals, but what people don't understand, playing the margins is equally as risky. I see pitfalls a plenty with playing it safe, it's not safe at all when you think about it.

Liberals need to attract, we can't rely on the repell. There's no kick the bums out scenario here, it's never existed, so you either gamble that you hit a good news cycle during the campaign or you seize the moment and get some MOXY.

Steve V said...

Platty

Do you honestly believe your gang doesn't talk down to Canadians? I've never seen a more BASAL, monosyllabic presentation given to Canadians in my life, you guys have no peer. Your ads treat us all like we're two, so insulting, yet effective. You throw out bald faced lies (like Harpo today, STILL puking out refuted numbers), there is no respect. It's all about manipulating the distracted Canadians, feeding them their pablum, and you have AUDACITY to play the "arrogant Liberal card". You're more boring than plain melba toast.

Koby said...

What the hell are you talking about? Alex talks about having to talk down to Canadians and you are telling me that I'm being rich? Give your head a shake....


ha ha

Thanks for that. The Conservatives never met a Canadian they did not want to pander to.

BTW, "Steve" Harps called he wants to meet you at Tim's for double double.

Frankly Canadian said...

There are a lot of good arguments here in these comments and I agree with most of them, however the one point made regarding marketing the message in very simple sound bites makes the most sense to me. The Liberals lost the initial election to Harper primarily because of what? “the sponsorship scandal”, “the beer and popcorn comment”, “tanks rolling through our streets commercials” all very short and simple sound bites. The Liberals need to get back in touch with the average Canadian and the easiest way to do that is to keep it short and simple, period! Most Canadians I know are in favour of national child care, they just need to be shown that what we have now is not working. Most Canadians I know do want to see something seriously done to curve green house gasses and to help the world lower emissions, they just don’t want more and more and even possibly never ending taxes to do it, they want better alternatives. Most Canadians
I know want to see Canada do more to help our aboriginal citizens live better than third world poverty conditions. Most Canadians I know enjoy the Canada we live in, they just need to be shown how quickly we can lose many of the factors that make it such a great country, in very short sound bites.
P.S. just about all the Canadians I know DON’T want another elections right now, they would be o.k. with one down the road, but for the right reasons.

Jim said...

National childcare is just another excuse for a gigantic Liberal bureaucracy that will absorb most of it's funding into it's own operation leaving very little for the actual implimentation and operation.

Most Canadians are aware of this, given the Liberals penchant for creating such things.

As well, single moms and dads in Churchill Manitoba know that such a program might benefit those in metro Toronto, but will likely do very little for them.

A universal child care credit is far more expedient and real.

Besides, when did it become the burden of the average taxpayer to fund the raising of children in Canada.

I have kids, and I am responsible for their upbringing...and I would like to keep it that way.

I am sure most taxpayers feel the same way.

National childcare is a bottomless money pit best left avoided.

Jim said...

And just to add, if we, as a country are going to fund any sort of child care or education, how about we make post secondary education absolutely free.

Now that would make us a stand out country.

The Mound of Sound said...

You won't want to hear this but Mr. I has been outmaneuvred by Harper ever since the prorogue. Canadians aren't blaming Harp for failing to prepare the country for the recession. To the contrary they see the fiscal levees constructed by the Libs as Harper's doing and find confidence in this total confidence man.

What do they see when they look at the Libs and NDP? Children - playing games. The Libs propped up the government on 52-consecutive votes and then they changed seats with the NDP who now props up the Cons. You can't do that without both parties looking like they're playing children's games. Especially when you have a public in no mood for an election, neither the NDP nor the Libs are doing themselves any favours in this.

Harper has enough of a soiled record that it's telling Iggy hasn't been able to kick him to the curb. Instead it's Ignatieff who is being discarded by the electorate.

I spent time with Bob Stanfield during the '74 campaign and I watched, first hand, what can happen to a good man who can't close the deal. I think in some ways Ignatieff is Stanfield reincarnated.

Gayle said...

"As for giving the baby bonus to millionaires, Gayle why not make the same argument when it comes to health care?"

Not a perticularly apt comparison. Education would be more appropriate.

In any event, funding to health care (which applies to ALL citizens), and education means said health care and education is "free" to all users. It benefits everyone equally, and it benefits society as a whole.

The child tax credit is of little benefit to the rich because they obviously do not need it. It is of little more benefit to the poor because they need more of it. It just makes sense to me that we distribute it according to income as a means to give the children of poor parents a better chance in life.

So why not at least find a middle cut off and give half the recipients (who fall under a certain income level) twice the money. Then at least the money may be useful.

Tomm said...

Mound is making sense. Did I just say that? I need more sleep.

Anyway, MofS is right. The Tories scare the Liberal's away from policy ideas and the Liberals abandon them without realizing that there may be some downsides, but it is a one time hit that they can build back up with proper messaging. And once it is brought back up, the new polling numbers will be robust.

Further, if Ignatieff had kept with his coalition and dropped the government, there would have been a Liberal led government going into the spring that would likely have been robust since the Bloc had promised to keep it intact.

Would the Liberal's be polling at 28% today if they had done that? Maybe, but so what? They would have been in power for the last 7 months as their bonus.

The Tories have successfully made the Liberal's fearful. The liberal's can be made fearful because their policies have holes in them big enough to drive a truck through. For example, the Green Shift was literally impossible to sell west of Ontario, yet for some reason the Liberal party didn't care.

Their policies need to be universally fair across the country. After that, just build the planks and sell them for what they are. They won't be in power now for at least a year and probably longer. They have time to build policy.

If they don't think they have anything different to offer than that is an entirely different problem and one with no up side.

Koby said...

"The child tax credit is of little benefit to the rich because they obviously do not need it. It is of little more benefit to the poor because they need more of it. It just makes sense to me that we distribute it according to income as a means to give the children of poor parents a better chance in life."

Given how "useless" this money is, it is amazing how appreciative poor families are. Just because such money does not come close to paying for daycare, it is not "useless". Money is always useful. The "rich" might even have use for it.

I reject the notion that social programs are just a form of welfare. They should be a way of making all our lives better.

Anyway, despite his utter distaste for the principle, Harper understands the appeal of universality in ways that Liberals simply do not. And this to all our detriment, but the poor's in particular. The poor would really benefit from having dental care, for example, being part of health care and if the Liberals promised it to all Canadians it might just be possible. However, if promised to the poor alone, the chances of such a policy being anything other than a political albatross are next to zero.

RuralSandi said...

I have to say it's amazing how the Cons made a negative out of the beer and popcorn issue showing the shallowness of the Cons.

I have a girlfriend who's a lawyer. She is a family law lawyer who specializes in domestic abuse, etc. She said that if the bunch of sheep (she said it) that follow the Cons talking points really knew how many terrible parents there are out there they'd be shocked.

I told her she should write some articles or comments in the media about it. She feels it would be a waste of time because spin talking works with those that don't know or don't want to know or want to win at any cost.

She said that the beer and popcorn is closer to the truth - the number of men for example who get their welfare cheque or pay cheques, go to the local honky tonks on a Friday night (while the kids do without proper food and clothing) - come home and beat the hell out of their wives and/or kids is astounding.

I still think she should write letters to editors.

Gayle said...

"Given how "useless" this money is, it is amazing how appreciative poor families are. Just because such money does not come close to paying for daycare, it is not "useless". Money is always useful. The "rich" might even have use for it."

Well duh.

Still, it is better used by increasing the amount to the poor and eliminating it to the rich. While "useful", it is not enough to help poor families provide adequate resources to their children.