Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mutually Exclusive?

Ignatieff's "green" speech is garnering limited attention, which is somewhat curious in and of itself given the cries for SUBSTANCE from the tabloid press (on a sidenote, during a panel on this topic, Tonda MacCharles said her own profession tended to prefer "shiny" things, division, rather than anything of true depth- I appreciate the honesty). Personally, I thought it a wonderful thrust, taken in totality Ignatieff is on to something quite attractive. People can quibble here and there, but the broad strokes from Ignatieff's speech provide an outline for a focused strategy.

I must say, one of the more frustrating distinctions is this argument that environmental concern runs counter to economic prosperity. Today, I read one piece which said Ignatieff was following Dion's path, and this was a mistake because the environment isn't the big issue, it's the economy. Do we really lack the sophistication to connect the dots here? The overlap isn't even theoretical anymore, it's everywhere within our economy. As Ignatieff pointed out, countries that have seized the initiative and become world leaders environmentally are creating massive employment and opportunity:
Global investment in clean energy technologies was a hundred and fifty billion last year.

Germany has created more than two-hundred-and-fifty thousand clean energy jobs. They’ve cornered sixteen percent of the global market.

Train your gaze to a place like Ontario, where it's manufacturing base is disappearing, can one not see the potential in Canada becoming a "leader" in a growing "industry". Canada has fallen behind, any initiative which both promotes new schemes, while simultaneously boosting critical PRODUCTIVITY through efficiency is attractive. You can make the economy argument along side the environmental one, and it doesn't take much imagination. The two concerns are not mutually exclusive, nor in conflict, they are actually reliant at this stage. To say Ignatieff has the wrong focus, well it's the critics eyes that are blurry, this is exactly what the Canadian economy desperately needs.

I'm quite encouraged, that within the current demand for policy, Ignatieff chooses to take this route, to make the environment a central Liberal theme once again. Without the burden of the "tax" word, I see no reason why we can't articulate the marriage between the economy and the environment, why going green can mean green, not a sacrifice but a must to keep pace with the world. A good start....


rgl said...

Again, you make good points, Steve. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Yes, this speech got moderately more attention than the actual confidence motion, but then again it got pretty much zilch coverage.

Perhaps if he had brought out of a harmonica at the end? ;)

But, of course, that would then be the lead. And that story would then generate tons of editorial articles (some papers now offer 4 or 5 for each "news" report) on how Ignatieff was faltering badly in Harper's wake and resorting to desperation as liberal insider's concerns grew.

Ah, but I digress . . . something I surely learned from reading the papers to be an informed citizen.

In all seriousness, though, I actually think this is what the Liberals should continue to do. Keep focusing on government and policy. That, and open the curtain and let the press inside - exclusive long interviews, letting them in the shadow cabinet meetings, etc, which I know we've talked about before.

The obsession on opinion pieces and shiny items that can be summed up in 2 lines but generate stories for days are hard to compete with. But with some creativity, it's possible. But the key to that is making yourself overtly available. You don't have to chase them down, but you can't expect they'll come find you either. Too many shiny objects along the way.

Steve V said...

Thanks rgl.


I really think you are onto something, regarding availability. When you're still largely an unknown, coupled with the fact you need to confront negative framing, what better way than a modern, open approach. It's not like Ignatieff doesn't understand the "camera", or isn't comfortable in a freelancing environment, it's actually part of the pedigree. Something with an edge, something that gives a fly on the wall appeal, that's a great way to connect.

Dan F said...

Nobody ever got elected appealing to the smart folks. It is unfortunately the stupid ones who decide elections, and they like the piano-playing PM right now. Maybe the right path is to give him a makeover, teach him an instrument and dumb down the message. I hate it, but that's reality. We can talk policy after we win.

Alternatively, we can take a real risk, get aggressive about opposing the ridiculous dumb-on-crime policies of the ReformaTories, and maybe win back some of that soft vote that is just looking for strong leadership that resembles their values.

Its worth a shot anyway.

Steve V said...

"We can talk policy after we win."

You'll never win without policy, particularly if you lead a party with an identity crisis. Unless you rely on your opponent to implode, what you propose is a complete loser.

Robert McClelland said...

The speech is getting limited attention because Ignatieff is addressing the wrong crowd. It's the tabloid press that's killing him just as it did Dion. So that's who he needs to address. If there's any competent strategist left in the party, they'd have Ignatieff go on a cross country tabloid tour giving interviews to the columnists that are raking him over the coals. He won't be able to win them all over, but by directly challenging their views about him he'd make significant progress in altering the narrative about him.

rockfish said...

In Vancouver his speech got some coverage, including clips on radio. But I heard two stations focus on the 'cost' -- which is certainly natural -- that seemed to slant the story towards 'expensive project.'
Admittedly, we have to have an answer for that. I'd just like the media to be equally as demanding on the government -- many decisions made by Harper have a cost attached that has not been adequately tested. The gst cuts got a little going over, but not much else. Is it because the 'cost' of something isn't always reduceable to pure dollars and cents? That's where we need to also make our point.

Steve V said...


That was actually a useful comment. Thx.

Alex Arnet said...

Our sad secret is that many of our companies devoted to sustainable technologies, in particular solar, are doing gangbusters in Germany. They created the business climate and we have the technology. This needs to change. It is a terrible shame that our government doesn't allow us to prosper here.

Jerry Prager said...

Dan F,
Northrup Frye, one of Canada's late great very smart folks was of the opinion that Canadians had a tendency to elect intellectuals. Perhaps because we respect intelligence, something lacking in Mr. Harper, especially emotional intelligence. Ignatieff doesn't need to dumb down, he needs to smarten up, and start deconstructing Harper's every move, in an erudite and thoughtful manner,let him loose.