Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Truth As Casualty

I get that politics is a game, and frankly sometimes I endorse nonsensical rhetoric in the name of political expediency. To clarify, I don't endorse it, but accept that in the political realm, words must be tailored, messaging is important, don't make yourself an easy target, yada yada, blah de blah blah. With this realization in mind, my criticism here isn't borne out of some idealist attachment that doesn't understand the machinations.

Still waiting for an adult to enter the room. An adult did enter the room last year, but he quickly backtracked into pre-puberty because of perceived opponent advantage. His name was Michael Ignatieff, and he's never uttered the word tax, since his initial musings. Another adult entered the room last week, and by all accounts Gerard Kennedy is now somewhere on Baffin Island developing policy for the Northwest Passage. Stay warm Gerard!

Is this the Liberal plan, to simply hid within the government's draft on deficit denial? Are we prepared to voluntarily share in the mutual delusions? Fine, call it a draw then, neither party will have credibility. Oh wait, the Liberals aren't fine with simply looking equally devoid of reason, we actually want to let the Conservatives look relatively "adult" by offering big initiatives that nobody believes we can afford. Sounds like a real winner from here, or better yet, sounds like we want to hand the Conservatives a undeserved gift.

Another high profile expert joins the growing chorus, further rendering the national parties avoidance all the more problematic:
The Harper government is misleading Canadians by claiming Ottawa’s budget deficit can be eliminated without the pain of higher taxes or slashed social programs, says Scott Clark, a former top finance department official.

Clark, who as deputy minister of finance in the 1990s helped then-finance minister Paul Martin put Canada’s financial house in order, is co-author of a study on Ottawa’s fiscal options. It shows that most of the $208 billion annual federal budget cannot be slashed because it goes to pay for transfers to the provinces or individuals or untouchable programs such as Atlantic offshore revenue payments, running the Employment Insurance system, air security and similar federal commitments.

Because the Conservatives are not laying out the real choices for Canadians, “they will not deliver a credible budget in 2010,” Clark said during a panel debate entitled: “Budget 2010: Time to Cut or Continue Pump Priming?”

I note, the Liberals are voluntarily confining themselves into an ever narrowing box on this issue. The Liberals are being pressed on the deficit issue, and our response is now relegated to passing the buck to the government, telling everyone it's up to them to craft a plan. One, that's a nice dodge, but it's hardly effective when you're trying to position yourself as the alternative. Two, how are you going to criticize any Conservative plan, when YOU YOURSELF aren't prepared to address the elephant in the room. The simple fact of the matter, the Conservatives can get away with any rhetoric they choose, should we CHOOSE to skate around this issue, in the same manner. The Liberals will be reduced to limp counters, that nobody takes seriously, the whole debate will congeal into a mish mash of half truths and posturing. Any time this occurs, advantage government of the day.

I would advise the Liberals put this child-care issue way, way on the backburner, even have Ignatieff clarify that we will get the fiscal house in order first, prior to any big ticket spending. At the very least, this will allow the Liberals to tuck their heads back to simple denial, rather than actually allowing the Conservatives a powerful common sense counter. If not, prepare to see the Conservatives deliver a pie in the sky budget, and weather any and all negative feedback, because the Liberals are even more out to lunch. Consider this constructive criticism.

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