Monday, February 12, 2007

Shrewd

You have to hand it the Prime Minister, this manoeuver is nothing but trouble for the opposition:
Ottawa announced $1.5-billion in new environmental funding Monday, with the cash earmarked to help provinces battle climate change.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the announcement in Sherbrooke, Que., alongside Quebec Premier Jean Charest. Quebec's share of the cash would total about $350-million. The money will be available under the Canada Eco-Trust and Clean Air Fund.

The outlay will be contained in the Conservatives' budget and will be part of Ottawa's efforts on the fiscal imbalance, Mr. Harper said.

The money will be available to the provinces once the budget receives approval from Parliament.

Tying this expenditure to budget approval puts the Bloc and the Liberals, in particular, on shaky ground. Harper makes the announcement in Quebec, with a dollar figure attached, Charest by his side. The other provinces are clearly an afterthought, Harper frames the issue- vote for the budget or deny Quebec 350 million. A partial resolution of the fiscal imbalance, the Bloc is cornered. If Duceppe votes against the upcoming budget, then Harper is well-armed heading into an election. Harper challenges the Bloc argument that they are in the H of C to protect Quebec's interest. How do you spin 350 million as bad for Quebec?

The Liberals are also declawed to an extent. I heard one commentary say the Liberals are reduced to complaining, while the Conservatives steal all their initiatives. It is almost irrelevant that the 1.5 billion is almost idential to the 250 million over 5 years the Liberals were negotiating, Harper can claim he got it done. All the signals from the Liberals suggest they will vote against the budget, but this announcement complicates the question. Again, do you want to head into an election voting against a sizable environmental initiative?

The problem, this announcement is actually a good idea. Tied to results, targeted, it's an objectively good plan. It's not a solution, nor does it detract from the bigger questions, but a solid move, even if it lacks originality. From time to time I've questioned the "master strategist" label attached to Harper, but I must say today is a strategic jewel. Harper also said he wants the budget passed, but another angle is he banks on rejection, which now includes the added bonus of punishing Quebec. Today has surely left opposition strategists scratching their heads.

9 comments:

Canadian Tar Heel said...

Shrewd...you got that right.

And the blogging torries sure have been building it up today.

Steve V said...

The only real counter is too immediately frame the expenditure as political opportunism. Why play games with important environmental fundings, and tie into your own political survival? Introduce it now, independently, if you are sincere. The problem for the opposition, you just end up looking sour.

lance said...

There is no counter. It's a 1-2-3-4 combo attack.

Action on the fiscal imbalance, action on targeted funding for GHG's, the money is going to be in the budget in a month or so, and it props up the federalists in Que.

There is no counter without the Tories looking like the heroes and the opposition looking like the baddies.

The only thing to do is back off quietly, and let the summer sort it out. Get Dion on the BBQ circuit talking about more than the environment and using English in day-to-day conversation.

The Liberal strategists need to get off the stool at "Hy's" whatever that is and get down to work. You guys have the talent, find it, use it.

Cheers,
lance

p.s. Steve, I apologize for the snipe I took at you in the other thread on the environment. It was uncalled for and I should have thought a bit more before posting.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

time to join the CPC,

no kidding. They get results. Join the winning team.

Monkey Loves to Fight said...

It could be a bit of a problem for us, alhtough I think it will hurt the Bloc Quebecois far more. Lets face it that despite the Conservatives and Liberals both having some strength in Quebec, they are in very different parts of the province and there likely won't be any competition between either party. The Liberals haven't got much chance of winning in Quebec City and likewise the Tories have zero chance of winning in Montreal.

That being said, Dion is an experienced MP so I would trust him to find a way out over any of the other leadership candidates.

Anonymous said...

Well it maybe tricky but it really is just the same old same old.

Don't you recognize the same thing with a different name. Under PM Chretien it was health initiatives same under PM Martin put he added daycare funding. All spending from surplus expected at the end of this fiscal year 2006-07 using the same old trust mechanism.

So now the populous is worried about GHG emissions so you money and mine that the gov't over taxes us for in fiscal 2006-07 will be given back to provinces oops and the territories.

This really really is too funny. Harpers has no new ideas he just copies and shmuck Canadians won't figure it out.

Also looks like the "trust" money will be distributed on a per capita basis also. Quebec's getting $350 million isn't that just about 23% of the $1.5 billion and isn't 23% about the provinces population share in the country. Let's see Ontario should be negotiating right now over $580 million portion of the slush fund and NFLD their $24 million.

rockfish said...

I'd want some one with an auditor's mindset to watch the numbers when the budget is announced. These Cons are playing a shell game with the surplus, and while any minority gov't would be in a tough pinch, this group is going through the vault with a vacuum. When they start tying the surplus to deficit reduction and tax cuts, it virtually eliminates more of these quick fixes, especially with cooling down expected in many sectors.
Hide the cookie jar!

Anonymous said...

You got it right, my friend. Harper's getting it done.

time for Dion to watch and learn.

Steve V said...

Interesting commentary on how this rash of spending might affect taxcuts in the upcoming budget.

lance

np, we all get testy from time to time :)