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How to beat the Tories.

I thought I’d re-hilight an interesting exchange I had with Aaron from – a staunchly conservative website – in the poll thread a couple blogposts ago, where he was claiming that the environmental issue was all Dion had to take to the Canadian electorate in an issue. He questioned how much it would resonate with the Canadian electorate:

I’m seeing a pattern developing here amongst Liberal bloggers. The Liberals should focus on a) the environment and b) cuts to womens’ programs. What segment of the electorate do you think is this post-materialist that they care about far-away issues like this? In other words, how many people outside of downtown Toronto would choose reinstating funding to Equal For Women Everywhere! over a personal tax cut?

My response to that was and is this –

a) The environment has become a big concern amongst Canadian voters. If 1 recent survey of what issues are most important to Canadians is to be believed, the Environment came in 2nd behind health care. Elizabeth May’s showing out of nowhere in London-North-Centre for the Greens would also be an indication of that, as would Harper’s rumoured dropping of Ambrose and an attempt to restart (er.. salvage) his so-called Green plan. I believe as an additional point the fact former PM Brian Mulroney more or less called out Harper and his government saying they ignored the environment at their peril is also strong evidence of it. Personally, I hope the Tories and Harper are as stubborn at refusing to take this issue seriously as their Tory blogging supporters seem to be.

b) Regarding his 2nd point about the cuts to women’s programs, its more then just that, of course. It will be highlighted the cuts to all of the Departments he and his government have done for nothing more then ideological reasons, when they have billions of dollars of surplus money and no need to cut any of these programs. You can throw in as well the incredibly short-sighted decision to refuse to reallocate money for the Canadian Space Agency to help develop the robotics part of the program for the Mars program, which both the Europeans and the US had been expecting Canada to help on. Its no wonder some bloggers are calling Harper “Diefenbaker 2”, because despite what you might say about the Avro Aero project, its no disputing we had a massive brain drain of talent go to the US after that project was pulled, and unless these guys change their minds, we’re going to see the same thing with our robotics industry. Stand up for Canada indeed.

I will also refer to the Toronto Star editorial I quoted from, where it highlights the 2 choices Canadians have:

The Tories have made it clear that they intend to use Ottawa’s $7 billion surplus chiefly to cut taxes, reduce debt and shrink government rather than reinvest it to boost the three things Canadians care most about, namely health care, the economy and jobs, and the environment, or to seriously address poverty and crumbling urban infrastructure.

The contrast is clear. If Canadians don’t want to do anything with the surplus other then put it all towards the debt, and save another 50 cents of tax off of their Tim Horton’s coffee, then vote Conservative. If you want to put that money towards re-investment in infrastructure and other social programs that Canadians traditionally support – then don’t vote for them. Its as simple as that. Framed in that manner, I strongly believe the majority of Canadians will reject the seduction of a short term break in a short-sighted tax cut.

I’ll also contend this – I’ll bet Aaron and other Conservatives who hew to his line of reasoning that in the upcoming campaign, a heck of a lot more Canadians are going to care about the Environment issue and the issue of whether money should be cut or re-instated to certain government departments and programs then there will be ones who believe Senate reform.. er.. half-reform is a pressing urgent issue.

UPDATE – Dec 18, 11am : Carol Goar writes in a Star op-ed today that the environmrntal pillar is fine, but its the other 2 pillars that need working on – and she hilights one particular Liberal’s  effort to get the social part of the pillar built up.


9 comments to How to beat the Tories.

  • So far Dion is just fluffy thoughts. Nothing specific. Fluff always sounds good, especially to Liberal bloggers.

    The rest of Canada is (not breathlessly) awaiting details of Dion’s FOUR pollars, the last of which is why voters should believe him any more than they disbelieved Martin’s “top priority” crap and (in Ontario) McGuinty’s 232 Liberal lies.

    I suspect each pillar will be very tough for Dion to flesh out in believable terms. It’s still the honeymoon. But not for much longer.

  • The Liberals don’t have to campaign on their environmental record. I would advise against it. Rather, they need to develop a policy and plan of action to tackle the environment and campaign on that. The Liberals have a unique opportunity to campaign as a new party but with the popularity of an established party. They need to take Gerard Kennedy’s advice and stop relying on their history and laurels. They need to develop something substantial and present a real choice to Canadians.

  • Great post….

    As a Conservative, I gotta say the Environment is the LAST thing the Liberals should campaign on. Yes it’s important, but steer clear of it in a debate, it would be like Hitler speaking on Jewish Rights.

    Their focus should be easy, Healthcare first off. They had an idea lined up, just delayed the initiation too long, the Conservatives have yet to do anything about wait times.

    I’m up in the air on the womens rights idea. With the Liberals supporting legalising prostitution, it’s tough to say your behind women 100% (no pun intended)…

    The accountability act lacks a little, they could use that angle to an extent. By electing Dion and staying within their origonal voting base, they should concentrate more on trying to show a lack of vision with the NDP and gain back needed seats from them. Try showing the NDP as “in bed” with the Conservatives, as well as the Bloc, maybe get some Quebec votes back in the process.

  • wilson61

    The Clean Air Act is in an ALL party committee.
    Dion and the Liberals had their chance at the enviro file. Two majorities and a minority. Liberals blew it, Dion blew it.
    You talk amongst yourselves as if Kyoto was just sprung on us.

    What makes you think Canadians would prefer to start from scratch with another Liberal scheme, by the same guy that blew it the first time, than have all parties finish what the Cons started?

  • Environment may be an issue but Westerners (Western Nations) and Canadians in particular have a great propensity to say one thing but do another.

    Ask anyone who owns an SUV if they care about the environment and you’ll get an affirmative. People profess a love for the environment but then crank up their thermostat in the winter rather than wearing more clothing. How many people will drive their car to work even when they could bike or walk there just as easily? Or take public transit?

    Canadians have to face the fact that most are generally hypocritical on the environment, the expect to be able to ‘have their cake and eat it too’. Namely, be able to be environmentally friendly but make no sacrifices for it. If politicians were honest about the environment they would acknowledge this fact. Nothing is free.

    To run a campaign on a single issue is dangerous (as Harper found out in 2004) even if it is done on a limited scope.

  • Kevin.R

    Beyond that I think the liberal party needs to remind Canadians that while the liberal party has worked really hard to clean itself up , the party that they elected that promised to have a more open and accountable government hasn’t done as promised, and instead in my opinion disrespected Canadians with their electioneering and lack of progress.The conservatives got their minority government by getting Canadians angry about the sponsorship scandal, to a certain extent the liberal party needs to do the same thing.

  • Ottlib

    My understanding of the approach Mr. Dion plans to take is to incorporate his three pillars into the Liberal election strategy.

    If that is the case then the Conservatives and the NDP will have a hard time nailing down Mr. Dion on just the environment.

  • The environment matters, period. So much in fact that even Albertans are concerned.

    As was revealed not too long ago, Albertans have actually shown themselves to be the strongest supporters of a carbon tax in all of Canada (!). You’d better believe it: Albertans, more than any other Canadian, would support a carbon tax.

    Most Canadians — including a majority of Albertans — believe the federal government should levy a tax on carbon-based energy sources, according to a new poll.

    Surprisingly, the country’s top oil, gas and coal producing regions — Alberta, British Columbia and Atlantic Canada — showed the most support for a carbon tax.

    Fifty-four per cent of Albertans and 55 per cent of British Columbians either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed with the statement: “Canada needs a special carbon tax to increase the cost of burning fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal for consumers and industry. This tax would promote energy efficiency and help the environment.”

  • Scott is right: the environment matters…

    Scott Tribe explains on his blog that the environment will be a very big issue for voters in the next federal election, and I fully agree. I’ll go even further and predict that the Green Party will elect its first…

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