Saturday, July 12, 2008

He's Been Consistent

It's not unusual to read some of Dion's critics charge that he has changed his mind by bringing in the Green Shift. I say, no, not really.

It's true he did not always believe that a carbon tax was the most effective way to get there, but the overall concept of what he has said he wanted to accomplish remains the same. He evolved his thinking with circumstance and market, and decided on a better plan.

Think back. This is what he said in one of his first speeches as Liberal leader to the Economic Club of Toronto:

January 16, 2007
“Climate change is now seen as one of the defining challenges of the 21st century -- and as a global risk with impacts far beyond the environment.” –World Economic Forum, January 2007

When one sets out on a journey, it is important to have a clear understanding of the final destination. So in this, my first major speech as Liberal Leader, I begin by telling you what I want to achieve if I become Prime Minister.

It will not surprise you to hear that my goals are based on the three pillars of a prosperous economy, social justice, and a sustainable environment. These three pillars are not silos. They do not exist in isolation from each other. Rather, Canada must combine them, more effectively and more profitably than anywhere in the world.

The Green Shift sets out to be one part of that vision for Canada. It doesn't just tackle the environment, but obviously reaches out to include the economy and social justice. It is meant to incentify people and industry to modify behaviour and in industry's case, to make changes that will keep profit sound, through tax cuts.

The Con's are calling it everything from social engineering to a tax grab designed to justify loony Liberal social programmes. Both comments miss the mark of course and actually point out just how regressive their thinking is. The contrast is stark. I think most countries who have taken the environment seriously and have been successful, have been able to make the shift from thinking in silo's to knowing that going forward means thinking differently.

Oddly, even Layton doesn't seem to get this. The noises coming out of his mouth suggest he's looking out for the little guy, but he offers no relief or incentive to the obvious cost's that consumers will have to bear through a cap and trade system and he too seems to keep environment in more of a silo. Layton to me is a one topic at a time thinker and certainly not someone who can integrate complex issues into a plan. Not a big thinker in other words. That's not really a dig, I just don't think many are cut out to do that.

Harper on the other hand is that kind of person. Sadly his master plan has little to do with Canada as we know it.

Back to the Green Shift. Adam Radwanski wrote a thoughtful, though critical piece this week. Here is some of what he had to say:

Is it really revenue neutral?
Short answer: Only if you accept the broadest possible definition of what qualifies as a tax cut. But then, that's pretty much the definition we've been accepting for years.

Straightforward tax cuts, in the form of reductions to business and income taxes, add up to roughly $9-billion in Year 4 of the Liberal plan. The rest of the more than $15-billion the party expects its carbon tax to generate would go mostly toward spending initiatives dressed up as tax benefits and credits - a $465-million supplement for low-income workers, a $150 supplement for every rural resident (totalling $749-million) to help pay their bills, a $600-million capital cost allowance for green technologies, another $400-million for R&D, an $800-million boost to the guaranteed income supplement for low-income seniors. Biggest of all is a nearly $3-billion child tax benefit - quite possibly a worthwhile expenditure, as are many of the others, but not exactly a tax cut in the traditional sense of the word.

Personally, I'd prefer the Liberals would just acknowledge that they want to use the revenues from the carbon tax to help fund a platform that combines tax cuts and social spending aimed mostly at alleviating poverty - a defensible method of putting Dion's "Three Pillars" business into effect. But for the Tories to accuse them of being disingenuous, even if it's not inaccurate, is a bit rich.

I understand why he tries to parse it, it's traditional thinking, but really I think Dion has been making that link during his Town Halls without making it too complex. Adam's certainly right about the Con's though.

So, as these meetings go forward, I think there should be more emphasis placed on how we have to change our silo thinking. Dion seems to have already shifted in that direction based on a couple of things I read today.

The other thing I think the Lib's must do a better job at is pointing out the fact that cap and trade also brings costs that will be passed to consumers and both the NDP and the Con's have no plan to help the affected.

I'm not clever enough to come up with a model that could be used in a presentation, but if there is anyone out there that is or has, I'd love to read it.

Good or bad press, the Green Shift is in the news just about every day. It has changed the debate. We are still seeing old school methods of attacking and be assured that the Con's will hold to the tax grab line, but we can change that thinking. We are however seeing far fewer arguments over whether or not climate change is real and whether or not we must do something. True, the Con plan does nothing so it could be argued that they reside in the distant past, but even they have been forced to present something.

As it stands, Dion is the only one going forward in terms of thinking differently and in the end I think that bodes well. Tim Powers (Con strategist) tonight on radio said no one is paying attention. Kinsella, and John Wright of Ipsos, of all people, countered with, 'when people hear him and understand the program, clearly they like it'.

Dion all the while has been consistent. Imagine that in a leader?


Platty said...

"The shift will transfer wealth from rich to poor, from the oilpatch to the rest of the country, and from the coffers of big business to the pockets of low-income Canadians," he said in a post on

The MP explains in his post that the $15 billion in revenues will be used to pay for Liberal party social policies, including $9 billion in tax cuts for low-income earners and $2.9 billion for a universal child tax benefit.

Liberal MP Ken Boshcoff


Platty said...

Nuff said

Johnathon said...

"The shift will transfer wealth from rich to poor, from the oilpatch to the rest of the country, and from the coffers of big business to the pockets of low-income Canadians," he said in a post on

The MP explains in his post that the $15 billion in revenues will be used to pay for Liberal party social policies, including $9 billion in tax cuts for low-income earners and $2.9 billion for a universal child tax benefit.

Liberal MP Ken Boshcoff

This liberal MP had the balls to say what Dion is afriad to say.

Harper is going to launch a tidal wave of attack ads using this MP's words.

The fact Dion wants to steal ALberta's money to spoon feed his poverty plan is criminal and hes should be charged for theft over 5000.

wilson said...

Consistent! Are you kidding?
Is February 14, 2005 toooooooo far back for the Liberals?
Here is the statement to oil&gas, from Stepane Dion, the Liberal Minister of the Environment's plan for INTENSITY TARGETS (oh, but things look so different from the opposition benches)

'''.....The key elements of our proposal are as follows:
•Comparable treatment across industry sectors – no discrimination against oil and gas.
•The federal and provincial legislative basis for the LFE (intensity targets) policy must be capable of implementing the proposed policy.
•Implementation of upstream oil and gas LFE (intensity targets) policy through existing regulators and under an equivalency agreement in Alberta and other provinces that choose to adopt that approach.
•Four categories of facilities for upstream oil and gas resulting from a distinction between large and small, new and existing facilities.
•New, large projects:> Best available technology economically achievable (BATEA) performance standards would be the basis for setting facility-specific
emission intensity targets,
which would be locked-in for 10 years from the beginning of operations.
read all 5 pages, it looks very much the conservative plan...''''

knb said...

Do you two ever venture out of the wading pool?

Did you even read my post or were you so sure with your attack that you had Boshcoff's words at your ready?

Ken Boshcoff is one of the most honourable members we, as Canadians, have in the House.

Indeed, what he is saying is true though his choice of words was not ideal.

Do you two not struggle to pay for things every month, or are you wealthy?

The whole point fella's is to address the environment and make that something that everyone can participate in. The whole point is to make clear that the environment is connected to every facet and every file the government handles.

The poor would obviously be hit harder than most, so Dion is making the playing field more even.

Harper's not, in fact he'll hit them and hit them hard. Oh, I forgot, you guys just don't care about the poor, the whole "pull yourself up by the boot straps thing".

You know, I don't know where either of you come from or how you grew up, but your inability to comprehend what we face, not just as a country, but as a planet, is frankly astonishing.

Politics isn't everything guys. Reality is.

knb said...

wilson, is evolving with the times too strange a concept for you to understand?

I know most of the Harper defenders are stuck in the fictional world of "Leave it to Beaver", but most of the rest of us have moved on.

The environment argument has moved, 'shifted' and I suspect you and your ilk haven't noticed, because you didn't join in when the conversation started.

Have you ever done that at a party? Tried to join a conversation because you heard someone say something that interested you? Meanwhile, they've been talking about it for 2 hours and your entree is stale, irrelevant.

That's where you and Harper are on this issue. No one except you guy's are looking back.

My advice? Stick to that strategy.

ottlib said...


That is the first time I have ever seen a comment by you where you did not use profanity and elementary school taunts towards the Liberals.

Who are you and what have you done with the real Johnathon?

"Harper is going to launch a tidal wave of attack ads using this MP's words."

Tell me Johnathon can you pick Mr. Boshcoff out of an array of pictures? I can't and that would go for most other Canadians. So no attack ads featuring him will be forthcoming.

Mr. Harper has aleady launched a tidal wave of attack ads so that is nothing new.

knb said...

ottlib you have a point re' johnathon. Sadly I could pick Boshcoff out of a line up, lol.

johnathon, to be honest, I'd prefer to continue the discussion without the nonsense.

I'm game if you are.

wilson said...

knb, you said Dion has been consistent.
he has been ANYTHING but consistant,
from his platform for Lib leader less than 2 years ago, til today, he has back tracked/reversed most of his stands.
From leaving Afghanistan no later than Feb 2009, to saying no to carbon taxes. The man in a flipflopper, no consistent.

''.. is evolving with the times too strange a concept for you to understand?..''

so does that mean Liberals will no longer drag up speeches PMSH made over a decade ago about 'firewalls' 'culture of defeat'...etc????

wilson said...

What irks me the most,
after signing Kyoto,
for the next 10 years, Liberals were governing with a majority or Dipper/Bloc support for Kyoto.

Dion and Martin brought out the most enviro friendly budget ever, says Lizzy May, the plan was INTENSITY TARGETS.
Not to take aim at any one region, nor industry. That's while in government, Martin & Dion wooing the West.

In opposition,
what ever it takes for Liberals to buy/keep Central and Eastern Canadian votes....even at the destruction of Canadian unity.

RuralSandi said...

Does it ever occur to the likes of Wilson and Jonathon - who spend all their time digging up negatives, name calling, etc. that if Harper truly had good policies, something to offer and if Canadians were happy with him - he wouldn't have to go to such extremes attacking?

His record, views, vision should be exciting Canadians - he has failed so he resorts the childish, demeaning attack ads.

Did you ever ask yourself why Harper has to be so nasty? Simple question, simple answer - he has not won over Canadians and he's not getting the job done.

By the way, if you want to play games about Dion changing his mind, God forbid that someone changes their mind, we certainly could come up with lists and lists of lies, false promises and Harper changing (pretending to on the environment) his mind - do you really want to go there?

Now, grow up and debate like adults.

ottlib said...

Trolls don't debate.

They misdirect. They obfuscate. They lie.

And when all of that fails they insult and denigrate.

It is one of the reasons why I ignore them for the most part.

knb said...

so does that mean Liberals will no longer drag up speeches PMSH made over a decade ago about 'firewalls' 'culture of defeat'.

Nope. At least not until Harper says publicaly that he's changed his stance on such issues.

Anonymous said...

This is funny stuff...
A Liberal circle jerk!!!

At least be honest and call it what it is...
a Carbon Tax

A Carbon Tax...
That mentions nothing about pollution goals
Is based on taking money from one group of people and giving it to another group of people in an attempt to get their vote.

Any other analysis is disingenuous!!!

Not a Conservative...
just an intelligent voter

knb said...

Not too intelligent however, because as always, no one who supports the Con's or the NDP offer a program that mitigates damage and speaks to how the consumer will be hit.

We have been honest...this is a tax on emmiters, carbon emmiters.

What is it about this plan that you anon's don't understand?

Anonymous said...

Revenue neutral in a pig's eye. After the 15 billion in added taxes has been passed on up the line with a hefty markup along the way, the final tax bill for the consumer will be closer to 30 billion. Plus...and here's the one you never here mentioned in this neutrality slight of hand...5% GST which will add another 1.5 billion to the government coffers. Guess who gets to keep that?