Friday, September 26, 2008

Layton's False Choice

The NDP have ran a very credible campaign, professional, focused and slick. However, as Layton tours the country, positioning himself as the real steward of the environment, the one that targets the true culprits while protecting you and I, it is interesting that the environmental expert community REJECTS the NDP stance. It's all about packaging, and I suspect Layton does get mileage from his environmental opportunism, but sifting through the talking points you see it's more politics than real debate.

May laments that many in the environmental community are muzzled for fear of the fallout in picking sides, her belief one that we've heard from other sources. However, we do hear tidbits, and those opinions are entirely negative towards the NDP in this election. Layton's intellectually dishonest either/or proposition which preys upon people's fears to score political points is catching some heat from the same people the NDP has COURTED all these years. Partisan NDP supporters will just fluff it off, rationalizing that many environmentalists support their position, but really they DON'T, or at least they are uncomfortable with using the various policies as a wedge issue:
VICTORIA, B.C. -- NDP Leader Jack Layton's harsh critique of the carbon tax concept has earned him the scorn of leading environmental groups.

But as Layton lobbed criticism at Dion's Green Shift carbon tax plan, environmentalists accused the NDP leader of misleading the public.

"These statements confuse the issue and do not contribute to an informed debate about the best ways for Canada to fight global warming," said Matthew Bramley, director of the Pembina Institute's Climate Change program. "Mr. Layton has a track record of leadership on climate change. His statements (yesterday) fall far short of that standard."

Many environmental organizations, including the Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation, have argued the best way to fight climate change is with a carbon tax, a cap-and-trade system, or a combination of the two.

They object to Layton's declaration that one is better than the other.

"The countries that are most successful right now at reducing emissions are using both policies," said Ian Bruce, a climate change specialist with the David Suzuki Foundation. "We strongly believe that a carbon tax is an essential tool at addressing the problem of global warming."

People might remember, not so long ago, Layton was quite proud to plaster photos of himself with Suzuki on his website, because it highlighted the close relationship between the NDP and the environmental community. Layton would argue that we needed to take our cues from what environmentalists were telling us, as part of his call to action on climate change. Heed the words of the experts, the NDP rallying cry to support their progressive agenda. Funny, those same people, those same experts, are now entirely disappointed with the NDP posturing at the expense of the issues they claim to care about. That's not this Liberals opinion, that's the opinion of the people who's only interest is tackling the problem, and therein lies an objective truth that rises above all the noise.

It was never an either/or argument, or at least nobody in the KNOW buys the oppositional argument. The only one's making it a either/or proposition are political hacks, who see an opportunity to exploit in the name of self interest. The "honest" debate has been anything but, just watch Jack get his hackles up and change the subject everytime some dares ask what his former allies are saying now. That's fine, all is fair in politics I suppose, but it really does highlight an inherent hypocrisy between the purer than driven snow bullshit we hear from the faithful and the practical exploitation in the name of self interest, an interest that works at cross purposes with the issue people claim to champion.


LNeumann said...

Hear, hear!

Anonymous said...

Later today/tomorrow check out the first 1/2 hour of CBC Radio The Current when its available for archive listening.

All 3 business leaders stated the economy can't be separated from the environment and 2 of them (one from the Alberta oil patch) stated carbon taxing was the way to proceed and some Conservatives agree.


Anonymous said...

"...or at least they are uncomfortable with using the various policies as a wedge issue..."

Layton has taken a side, Harper has taken a side, Dion has taken a side. Like it or not, all three are using it as a wedge issue.

By the same token we don't hear Dion or the Liberals talking up the need for both. Infact, we don't hear Dion talking about any hard caps or reduction numbers period. He has put all his eggs into the Carbon tax basket, exactly the opposite position of both of his main competitors.

So what I see here are two (well 3 if you even want to count the Con plan...) parties pushing two different plans with neither willing to endorse the usefulness of the others plan.

If either wanted to truly be a steward on the issue and follow the leading voices of the environment they would be running on both a carbon tax and a cap and trade.

Do I agree with it personally? Nope. would I suspect any less from our politicians who are trying to get elected? Nope. Do I think we will ever have any real action on this issue anytime soon? Probably not, but what's another 15 years of waiting for our government to get serious on the environment?

Anonymous said...

None of these ENGOs had any interest in a carbon tax before Dion suddenly proposed it - then all of a sudden they started saying they favoured it because they didn't want to make Prof. Dion look bad.

For the past generation, the ENGO community has been unanimous in pushing for a strong cap and trade. They only decided they liked carbon taxes about six months ago.

Anonymous said...

There has now been enormous in depth studies of carbon pricing, as well as the experiences of multiple countries. All the environmental groups support a carbon tax and cap and trade, and most argue we need both, and this has nothing to do with Dion. More likely, they convinced Dion. Both May and DIon support both forms of carbon pricing and recognize we should have both.

Layton is the only one (of these 3) arguing against one form of carbon pricing. That puts him at odds with environmental groups. In addition, his false messaging (carbon tax hurts people, cap and trade doesn't) harms the environmental initiative. Pembina issued a response to Layton's falsehoods, and in the past the Suzuki Fdn has done the same.
I think Layton has given up on the environmental front, although he may still fool a few people.

Steve V said...


Get a clue. People have been pushing the concept, it has nothing to do with Dion.


Dion has spoke on cap and trade, as a matter of fact he did so when he launched the Green Shift, so again the "side" isn't what you're arguing. May isn't picking sides, Dion isn't picking sides, only Jack and Harper, and to suggest anything else is a partisan spin. Like I said, don't take my biased word for it, just ask the NDP's former allies, the environmentalists. And, all this talk about no hard targets, blah, blah, if that were true, then why would these idiots endorse the plan, given the entire premise is REDUCING greenhouse gases. It doesn't even pass the most basic common sense argument, it's just a NDP talking point, supported by very few who actually understand the issue.

RuralSandi said...

The Liberals really need to point out in ads who supports their plan - economists, environmentalists and countries that have succeeded with it, like Denmark and the fact that the cap and trade is not working out as well as expected.

Also, Layton's going around using Gary Doer as an example of how well NDP can run things - BUT Layton doesn't mention that Doer "does not attack corporations" and in fact gives them low corporate taxes - why are the MSM not pointing this out?

Other "socialist" countries, like Sweden have low corporate tax rates to attrack business.

Also, I wonder what corporations would want to invest in Canada if they are attacked by a country lead by the NDP and with so much union influence? Look at Layton's caucus - former activists, union members, union leaders - union, union...except for Libby Davies who was a former card carrying member of the Communist Party. I'm not comfortable with this.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I decided to give you the benefit of the doubt in my original comment and so I didn't add this part:

You can't rationally claim that Dion is openly supporting both a tax and a cap and trade system. Why, because he is not talking about it in public, nor are any other Liberals. So he mentioned it once or twice, but when he doesn't present it to the public at large he is definitely picking a side. As you say "anything else is a partisan spin".

There are no saints when it comes to environmental policy on the national stage, and that includes Dion. Dion also has the added bonus of carrying the baggage of doing nothing when he had the chance to do something. As does the NDP, one only has to look here at Sask to understand that (or BC or Manitoba).

You try to present an argument against Layton and the NDP that has merit, but it loses all credibility when you yourself use it as a wedge issue in favour of your own Liberal party.

And I purposely left out May, because she isn't picking a side.

Steve V said...


I'm not presenting the argument, it's the ENVIRONMENTALISTS who are saying Layton is picking sides, not DION. Like I said, don't ask me, ask THEM. I guess the only retort, the environmentalists are in the pocket of the Liberals, so Dion gets a pass, while poor Jack gets picked on. Please answer the point of the post, it isn't about what this Liberal thinks, and they don't seem to be accusing the Liberals of picking, just the NDP. Strange.

Steve V said...


And, if you're saying I'm using it as wedge issue, that is quite ironic since Layton's entire argument starts with that premise. I'm merely highlighting that Jack is playing politics, and somehow I'm in the wrong for noticing, it's turned around as a reflection on the Liberals. Strange II.

Dr. Tux said...


There is a firm commitment by Dion to have both. The Carbon Tax applies to some emmissions while the cap and trade system will apply to others.

One area specifically highlighted by Dion for a future cap and trade system is to include emission sinks produced by green farming and green forestry practices. Including these practices in a cap and trade system will give a financial incentive for the restoration of farm and forest ecology.

Layton saying that we can use a cap and trade system, and ONLY a cap and trade system, is problematic because it would take a long time to implement. A Carbon Tax can work right away.

What is being proposed in the Green Shift is essentially a fairer, greener, progressive tax system. It is well supported by the best economists and environmentalists, and it will work.

What's most upsetting is that we have a moral obligation to deal with climate change, and we have one of the world's best champions on that particular file running for PM. And yet partisan sentiment is being given greater importance in this election, even though it's a complete distraction from the work that we absolutely must get to.

This election can't be about partisan sentiment, it has to be about our moral obligation to deal with climate change.

liberazzi said...


What about taking strategic voting to the next level. If the Nanos numbers are true and their is no rebound after the debates then we might be looking at a majority government. Now I know what I am about to say will be discredited and people will cry about their voices not being heard or whatever. However, it is going to come down to a choice between putting egos aside for the good of the progressive movement so to speak and electing a Harper govt. Which is worse for progressives? Your egos or a regressive regime? Lets remember that these are not your father's Progressive Conservatives.

Ok, so lets say there is no rebound after Oct 1 and the fat lady is singing. Would it not be in the interest of Layton and Dion to enter into a non-agression pact? Look at the two way races either between the NDP and the Cons or Lib versus Cons. Then look at historically which party does better in that riding or who has the better current polling numbers. Then who ever is in third place would drop out immediately. Yes it will cause a shit storm, but would not the progressives rally around this cause? You could either cry it up over the your democratic rights being stolen (whatever) or have another 2 to 4 years of Harper. Now if it is a two party race between the Libs and the Dips then of course you do nothing, may the best party win.

Yes I am being naive, yes it will never happen, yes it might be politicaly suicide, but really isnt it the best strategy if there is no bounce back? Doesnt it give us a chance to put into place strong environmental legislation?

liberazzi said...

Further to the point it is in the best interest of Dion and Layton as it should increase the seat totals for both parties. I will come back with potential seat totals later.

Steve V said...


I like the idea, but ego and near-sighted thinking tends to short curcuit any discussion.

liberazzi said...

I dont have time to finish but so far btw Alberta and BC:

Cons - 31
Libs - 17
Dips - 15

I know this idea will never fly, but the facts are speaking for themselves. I mean look at it, you've already wiped out the Cons Alberta/BC advantage.

Sean S. said...

I have not heard or read a single announcement by dion during this election to include a cap and trade system in his policies. Please direct me to that press release and/or news article and I'll be happy to read it, as I believe we do need both to address this issue.

Anonymous said...

Sean, the liberal platform (on their website for example, under platform) discusses their plans for cap and trade under the "greener" section. Dion has also been quoted in the press several times saying that he would work towards implementing a cap and trade. In particular, I have never heard him dismiss a cap and trade or paint it as "harmful".

MikeD said...


Strategic voting is the best chance we have. We don't have time to turn all the egos around. Those who believe in it just need to get going. There is lots of momentum already.

Murray Dobbin supports it

Avaaz is promoting it

And excellent multi-partisan sites like are providing credible advice to voters on how to make SV work.

Let's get going.

liberazzi said...

Ok, I have finished my project, based on the numbers on Democratic Space:

Libs - 140
Cons - 76
Bloc - 48
Dips - 42
Ind - 2

In order for this to work, then the Greens would also have to be a part of the plan. Some of the Green and Lib vote would migrate to the Cons, which I have factored in.

The Libs are still the second choice in a number of Con wins. The Dip vote in most cases puts the Libs overtop. If the Cons were around 47% or more then I gave them the seat. The Greens did not finish in second place in any contest in 2006, so this scenario does not help them, but it keeps Harper out of power.

What is in it for the Dips? They will hold the balance of power in a coalition govt, with perhaps a few of their members holding cabinet positions. It also ensures that we will have a progressive majority in power. It would also have a financial impact, by the parties in some riding only having to run one candidate per riding.

This might be fantasy, but it does disprove Harper's point that we are becoming a conservative nation. Finally, if Libs fail to regain power as the polls state now, then uniting the centre left needs to gain prominence. Egos must be put aside in order to defeat Harper now and in the future. The numbers dont lie.

liberazzi said...

Just visited site, which is very good. My plan is more dramatic, not bloody likely of course, but food for thought for the future. SV stills allows for a "progressive" majority govt. Is it too late to put egos and self-interest aside? Perhaps, Layton and Dion do not need to go to the extremes that I am proposing, but perhaps need to somehow without pissing off their own candidates, encourage SV. We need to start promoting this more strongly and I have no problem with Dips winning more seats if it means less Con seats. Yes?

liberazzi said...

Finally, I am surprised to see that Karen Redman and Iggy are in trouble.