Monday, September 01, 2008

Will Green Shift Be Tweaked?

Last week, we heard some rumblings about possible adjustments to the Green Shift package prior to the election. Yesterday, on Question Period, Ignatieff seemed to confirm that the Green Shift will be tweaked:
"I can't say what we're going to do precisely, because that decision is made by Stephane Dion, not me. But, my sense is that it's important that we listen to the concerns of the people that produce our food. Respectfully, I don't think we're going to change it substantially, but we've got to show that we're listening"

"It's no secret, leadership is about listening as well as leading, and I think we want to show we're listening."

I guess the question then becomes, is it better to be dogmatic, or pragmatic, even though that pragmatism lends itself to obvious counters of backing down or flipping? The Conservatives would jump on any alteration as proof of a problem, so one would expect some hesitancy in terms of optics. That said, the Liberals have said from the start that the plan would be presented, then we would enter a summer dialogue to discuss the plan. Inferred in that approach, room to listen and react accordingly.

The Liberals aren't the government, the Green Shift isn't a piece of legislation, it is a policy. The important point for the Liberals, if any changes do occur, that they aren't pandering or being opportunistic, but receptive and progressive in their thinking. Contrast that approach with the Conservatives, who arrogantly ignore any outside opinion, particularly from issue experts, and you show a contrast. We listened, and we see what some are saying, so we've made adjustments to incorporate those concerns. The principle remains the same, and any tweaking is probably of the minor variety, but the Green Shift was always a starting point. Whether that rational explanation can be heard over the rabid nonsense of the Conservatives will be an important question, but the central argument actually feeds a bigger theme.

I'm of the view, that you try to get it right. If issues or concerns develop, which causes you to rethink, then stubborness or ideology shouldn't preclude an evolution of thought. If the Liberals do tweak, I think it a testament to a pragmatic approach to governing, rather than any statement on "sticking to your guns". Present any adjustments as a sort of cross Canada committee, where proposals are vetted, different opinions are expressed, then amendments are made to reflect that consultation, resulting in a stronger package.

Cue the predictable, mindless Conservative retort...


Anonymous said...

Personally I never took too much faith in "nameless insider reports" (my words but just as accurate as whatever the G&M) said that Dion would not change one word of the plan.

It just doesn't sound like something Dion would ever say.

I'd go as far as to say it almost reeks of a precursor report for the inevitable "he is capitulating" reports that are bound to follow the announcement of pragmatic changes to a policy announcement. I am sure nameless insiders will be available for comment if necessary ; ).

Steve V said...


The political temptation, just leave it and move forward. If Dion does alter, just prior to an election, it might be politically shaky, but it really does give a sense of what kind of a Prime Minister he would be.

bigcitylib said...

It might seem politically shaky, but I'm sure Dion said at the start that he was willing to tweak, so I don't know how much that acusation really cuts. And I am actually of the opinion that there are elements to the plan that might profitably tweaked.

Karen said...

I have the same recollection as BCL.

The fundamentals would stay the same, but portions could either be tweaked or additional programs added if necessary.

I thought that was the whole idea behind talking to Canadians over the summer.

I don't see the mindless attacks, should they come as being too difficult to fight.

The Conservatives are attacking the Liberals for listening to Canadians?

Blues Clair said...

"The Conservatives are attacking the Liberals for listening to Canadians?"

knb, exactly. I've already seen this attack from Conservative bloggers. It is bizarre to say the least. But to be expected.

Anthony said...

nice to see somebody knows what leadership is

I wonder if he knows what a VP does

Steve V said...

That's a good line knb.

Karen said...

Thx. It also has the advantage of being true.

Steve V said...

Added bonus ;)

Anonymous said...

As knb points out, I also remember Dion saying in June that he would listen to Canadians and improve the plan as needed. A quick google didn't turn up the news article I read, but here is one in Canoe (jun 26):

Calling his broader climate change policy a "work-in-progress," Dion said he will listen to Canadians to fine-tune the plan.

Ditto to Steve, great line, knb.

Steve V said...

Good find catherine, quotes like that might be useful, once the HOWLING starts.

Frankly Canadian said...

I absolutely agree with your statement that "I'm of the view, that you try to get it right. If issues or concerns develop, which causes you to rethink, then stubbornness or ideology shouldn't preclude an evolution of thought."
To me it shows true leadership!

Steve V said...


I really see this election more and more as a referendum on approach to government. One starts with having all the answers, ignoring any feedback or expert opinion (see the environment, taxcuts, needle program, crime, etc), while one attempts to draw on knowledge to formulate the best possible policy.

Frankly Canadian said...

Steve, the problem we have here is that Steven Harper has no qualified intelligent people to draw his knowledge from, rather he relies on his own self centered attitude. Sorry that's not entirely true, he does have the oil companies to talk to if he needs advise. I do agree and hope that this election becomes a referendum on the way a government should function.

Anonymous said...

Just as a closing to my first comment on this. Sure enough, the G&M has headlined the "forced concessions" (didn't use the word "capitulate" but close enough).

I still find it bizarre that both articles seem to be bound tightly to one comment from one nameless insider who insists Dion claimed "not one word" would be changed with the plan - despite all evidence to the contrary that the summer discussion was intended for feedback and discussion.

It is just the weakest of journalism.

The Liberals need to stop expecting the media to get it right and start exercising greater media savvy. One of two well-thought out media scrums does not alter the overall fact that Liberals do not always take advantage of their media time. Too many open ended answers are provided, allowing the media to insert their own sloppy narratives.

One thing I hope comes out of this meeting is a clear concise set of Liberal objectives and argument points that can be clearly stated in any environment with the public and any media type.

Please toss the neutral answers out and start walking, talking, and thinking election with every response.