Monday, June 18, 2007

The Gang That Can't Shoot Straight

Spending money, so you can look bad on the environment. Put this idea in the "what were you thinking" category. The obvious reaction:
"Tories get the lead out; critics agog at sponsorship of gas guzzlers

OTTAWA (CP) - Government critics were agog Monday that the supposedly green-hued Conservative party is sponsoring a sport that burns leaded gasoline by the barrel.

The Canadian fuel exemption for competitive racing expires next January, and Environment Canada put out a discussion paper last month asking for submissions on whether it should be extended. Up to 40 per cent of the leaded fuel sold in Canada is used in stock cars, while another 40 to 50 per cent is burned by dragsters.

NDP environment critic Nathan Cullen noted that NASCAR vehicles get about two miles to the gallon. "In a 250-mile race, that means they go through 125 gallons of leaded fuel, per car," he said. "It's a stunt that could go very bad for (the Conservatives) if they don't think through what they're putting money into."

Green party leader Elizabeth May dryly noted that her party won't be entering a vehicle in NASCAR. "It reflects the fact there is more money than sense in the Conservative party right now," she said. "We would never be associated with the conspicuous consumption of leaded gas for the purpose of electioneering."

The Brown Plan?:
"Critics takes shine off new Tory car"

The latest advertising vehicle for the Conservative Party gets about five miles a gallon, a fact the opposition parties jumped on Monday to ridicule the governing party's decision to sponsor a Canadian stock car.

“Given all their talk of green, why weren't they supporting one of the bicycle competitions going on around the country? It might have presented a somewhat more legitimate message,” New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton said.

“They'll now have their name on some of the [greenhouse-gas] emissions here in Canada, and I'm not sure that was necessarily the wisest decision,” Mr. Layton said.

Follow the logic. The Tory braintrust cooks up this idea to reach out to a targeted audience. Apparently, no one notices the apparent hypocrisy of claiming to "set an example" on GHG reduction, while simultaneously supporting frivilous emissions.

I actually think the inability to see the contradiction tells us a great deal. When I read the story, it took me about a nano second to see the appearance problem. The fact no one saw the issue, or choose to ignore it, is a testament to how seriously these people actually take GHG emissions. A genuine concern would see the obvious, a manufactured commitment for political consideration might miss it. This small item is actually a glaring example of how these people just don't get it.

It looks like the Conservatives are already running away:
Four Conservative cabinet ministers helped launch the unusual ad at a racetrack east of Toronto this weekend, but Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon said "there's a difference" between the government and the political party.

"I don't think it's something that is related directly with the government of Canada," Cannon said. "It's a party initiative and I think that the officials from the party are the ones that should answer."

The Tories were criticized for the high-speed ad in the only North American racing league to have resisted the switch to green technology. NASCAR is only this year switching from leaded to unleaded fuel.

The party is different from the government, yet the government ministers rolled out the sponsorship. I understand completely. Damage control?


Oxford County Liberals said...

Oh, but it gets even better, Steve:

Ryan Sparrow, a spokesman for the Conservative party, said New Democrats will have to answer to automotive workers for their criticism of motor sports.

“They’re casting doubt on the whole sport,” said Sparrow.

SO now the Tories are trying to use this as a wedge issue against the NDP, after it was pointed out how much leaded fuel and GHG these things emit.

Steve V said...

I saw that Scott, they can't help but turn EVERYTHING into a wedge issue. The NDP are against the automobile!

What do the tanks in Afghanistan run on? I can hear it now, "opposition doesn't support the troops" ;)

Godammitkitty said...

They are breathtaking, eh?

The funniest thing about this is that it forces you to picture stiff, dour-faced Stevie Harper in an actual stock-car. Gentlemen: start your Photoshops! :)


burlivespipe said...

Too bad Will Ferrell already put this sport up on the hoist and lubed it good. Harpor squeezed into a stock-car silver-lamé suit would do wonders for the next Rick Mercer show, and likely get Stockwell Day's wetsuit debaucle off the list of every political comedian-wannabe in Canada.

JimBobby said...

Whooee! Cerberus has a contest goin'. I ain't sure if I'm the only contestant or not. I ain't checked yet today. Here's my poster of Stevie in his NASCAR uniform.

It don't get much dumber than this but the MSM is givin' the HarpoonTossers an' easy ride, sez I.


Steve V said...

Nice work JB!

Steve V said...

Quite the pricetag:

"He estimates that the driver, Pierre Bourque, is leasing the Dodge Charger emblazoned with the Conservative Party of Canada logo for about $20,000 per race from the Dave Whitlock race team. And that doesn't include the steep price of about $20,000 per team per race to follow the NASCAR schedule across Canada."

JimBobby said...

It'd be interesting to know just how much the CPC is paying. The bigass logo right on the hood must be premium ad space.

If some other party were to find out what it cost and then put an equal amount into non-polluting recreational funding -- like The Pierre Trudeau Memorial Canoe Race on teh Rideau -- I reckon there'd be some political hay in the wagon.

What could be more appealing to hard-workin', tax-payin' Canajuns than linin' the banks of the Rideau and watchin' (for free, of course) real Canajuns compete in an emissions-free, human-powered symbol of Canada?

I betcha the whole dang canoe race could be put on fer less dough than the Con's are spendin' to back 2 mpg Bourque. I betcha it'd get more free PR and generate more goodwill than any Canajun NASCAR event.


Mark Dowling said...

Steve - according to the Globe and Mail NASCAR Canada runs on 104 octane non-leaded with some ethanol added. There is also mention of NASCAR US having accelerated the process of giving up leaded with the main circuits now lead free. While it doesn't of course take away from the CO2 aspect, the commentary on leaded from May, Layton et al seems to be out of date.

When I saw this yesterday, I didn't think of lead because I don't follow NASCAR - I just thought "Bourque and gas guzzlers - a double whammy of stupidity by CPC"

After all, even McGuinty has figured out that when you hand $600m to the auto sector, it needs a green label on it unlike the last tranche of $500m.

Steve V said...


Thanks for the clarification, May might want to refine your point.


I wonder if this advertising will count against the Tories during an election campaign?

JimBobby said...

Re lead, an article I read yesterday said that NASCAR went lead-free for the first time in this, the 2007, season.

Anonymous said...

Ryan Sparrow, a spokesman for the Conservative party, said New Democrats will have to answer to automotive workers for their criticism of motor sports.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Buzz Hargrove and the CAW supporting the Liberals now?

BTW, this guy used to be Rona Ambrose's press secretary, before they brought in pit-bull Baird.

Mark Dowling said...

refined points...

1. Layton, May wrong about lead
2. Layton, May right about CO2
3. CPC dumb as bag of hammers
4. McGuinty's handouts to Buzz are now labelled "hybrid" - bet he gets a warm welcome in GM Oshawa today for those hybrid pickups and crossovers them and Ford will be making

hope that helps :)

Oxford County Liberals said...

According to the Star article I quoted, NASCAR isnt going to unleaded till the 2008 season. So, someone isnt accurate here.

JimBobby said...

The lead issue is confusing. I read that NASCAR had implemented the unleaded policy a year early. I suppose that means that they had scheduled to start using unleaded in 2008 but being such Earth-lovers, they moved it up to 2007.

Lead is just one part of the emissions. Unleaded still spews GHG's and other health-damaging pollutants.

Thsi is starting to turn into a PR debacle. Transport Minister Cannon is attempting to distance the government from the CPC. Kinda tough after 4 cabinet minsters were on hand to brag up the ad campaign.


Mark Dowling said...


NASCAR US are running on unleaded this year.

In this article a crew chief specifically notes that performance on a particular track will be different this year because of unleaded. The February article notes some initial difficulties using the unleaded fuel - lead adds lubrication which is why moving to unleaded is not a simple issue for autosport to fix.

[one point to note when comparing US and European fuel prices is that while Europeans get 95 octane fuel as their lowest grade, the US/Canadian 89 is less efficient (but cheaper to refine in North America's ageing refineries).]

So can we simply say that the leaded part is not relevant to the discussion and move on, or will we insist on pretending that there is lead in NASCAR because it's less convenient to admit the mistake? If Liberals can't abandon arguments when facts emerge, what chance is there that Tories will do so?

Oxford County Liberals said...

I'm just stating what the newsmedia I quoted said, Mark. It's nothing to do with mistakes... and if what you're saying is true, apparently none of the politicians are aware of it either.. neither Jack Layton for making the accusatory statement about them, or the Tories for being unable to point out that they are running on unleaded already.

Mark Dowling said...

Scott - two things:

1. You said "someone's got it wrong". Both my links went to which plainly showed CP (who your link and used) are wrong.

2. You said "if what you're saying is true" - see above. I don't give a damn about NASCAR but I made the effort to do five minutes of google.

3. It shouldn't have to be the Tories responsibility to point out that the Dippers and the Greens are wrong. May and Layton should not have spoken without possession of the facts. It should not have required the Tories to disprove them. But then May and Layton might have missed their precious news cycle... Bah!