Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Nice Shift

Since I've been complaining about just these aspects of the Liberal Green Shift, I am most happy to hear that

...Dion will announce that part of the $1 billion contingency fund in his plan, designed for tax relief to address the unavoidable costs associated with the carbon tax, will be set aside for truckers, farmers and fishermen.

As to the timing, well, it is unfortunate that the annual Liberal caucus retreat should come on the verge of an election call, and therefore that some media should refer to the changes as "concessions" made in response to negative polling figures. But it was clear from the beginning that the original Green Shift was being put forward as a basis for discussion, and that alterations might be made as a result of concerns expressed during that discussion.

In response to these charges, I like the "we listened" line Dion and Co. are employing. They might also try a variant of the line John Maynard Keynes made famous: "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"

As an aside, the notion that such concessions "weaken" the plan is surely true but politically unavoidable. Best to get a framework in place and then work at tightening up loopholes. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and all that.


Anonymous said...

The G&M have been building to this "concessions" headline for a couple of weeks now, from what appears to be one nameless source who said (despite all evidence to the contrary throughout the summer) that Dion was "adamant" about not changing "one word."

It would not have mattered when the plan as refined, the editor would have framed it as a concession.

I only point that out because you make it sound like the Liberals could have handled it differently and avoided that framing.

They couldn't have - they don't print the papers. The typeset was already in place.

Having said that, I do wish the Liberals would work to more consistently frame their remarks to the press for clarity - on any number of topics - so its not so easy for the press to run with their own angle.

There is a reason for having talking points. By now, the Liberals ought to have a solid standard response "A" for any question about polls by responding in a way that defines the election as a referendum on the conservative record and to explain a liberal government is needed. Too often the liberals still say incomplete and open ended things like "polls come and go." If that's all you say, you're opening up yourself to headlines like "Dion dismisses negative polls" with NO hope your arguments will ever see the newspaper page.

A party cannot write the news, but they need to be ready to voice their points at any time to increase the chance that their message will get across.

Liberals still drop the ball on that quite a bit, thought they have some moments when they manage ok.

bigcitylib said...

I agree with you. But with the election call it makes it look as though that was the trigger for the changes, where in fact it was really supposed to be part of the process from the word go.

ScottS said...

If the carbon tax is going to be revenue neutral, you know every penny taken in goes back out, where did the extra $1 Billion come from for this contingency fund?

Auntie Liberal said...

Hmm, I seem to recall Dion saying something about 'we won't change one thing, not even a comma'. And this was after he had his dialogues, IIRC.

Gayle said...

Nice recollectin there auntie.

Were you the unnamed liberal insider who told Taber that?

Unknown said...

And to help back up Dion, Ipsos Reid has released their new survey on leadership in Canada.

A sampling of answers:

Someone you can trust…
Stephen Harper 38%
Jack Layton 32%
Stephane Dion 22%

Someone who is best to manage through tough economic times…
Stephen Harper 50%
Jack Layton 23%
Stephane Dion 22%

Someone who will say anything to get elected…
Stephane Dion 38%
Stephen Harper 37%
Jack Layton 19%

Someone who has values that are closest to your own…
Stephen Harper 38%
Jack Layton 31 %
Stephane Dion 22%

Someone who has a vision of Canada that you can support…
Stephen Harper 43%
Jack Layton 27%
Stephane Dion 25%

Full results here:

bigcitylib said...

Paul, so why does that poll have them tied in popular support?

Unknown said...

Libs traditionally have strong support BCL; the poll indicates it is Dion who is handicapping them.

Simon Donner said...

I agree it was a decent policy move, but I fear it will be used to make the Dion seem weak and disorganized.