Saturday, May 17, 2008

Upcoming Contrasts - Vision vs Vacuum?

I've refrained from commenting on the specifics and ramifications of Stephane Dion's environment plan, primarily because he hasn't announced it yet.
Have you ever seen so much detailed bashing about something that hasn't been fully articulated? Some pundits and predictable suspects were telling us just how much this, yet to be articulated plan, would cost us at the pumps and just how much your heating bill would increase if Dion has his way. It was positively laughable.
So, that said, I'm not going to go there, but the tone of the debate is what really struck me and got me thinking about the next election. All the writing off of Dion has never struck me as being terribly meaningful. He hasn't been a superstar in the classic sense, but nor has he been the Disney character that the Con's have created.
He's a tenacious, intelligent man that is not easily rattled. It strikes me that he holds a vision of Canada and is determined to develop a way to achieve that vision, through optimism, honesty and openness.
Harper has a vision of Canada too but it's not one that he can articulate because the majority of the country does not share it. That presents a problem of course. His vision must be achieved through pessimism, (witness doomsday predictions), deception, (lying about..well just about everything), and being closed and controlling.
That is a striking contrast and one that I think will be very much on display during the next election.
The current thinking is that Harper wants to run on Leadership. That thinking is difficult to dispute given how he and his party have done everything in their power to suggest that Dion is not a leader. Here's the thing though. When the election finally rolls out, who will be showing leadership? The candidate that has ideas to bring the country where it needs to be or the one who is satisfied with the status quo and disparages progress?
What exactly is Harper going to hang his mantle of leadership on? Funding the military? Well, that plays to some and certainly most of us want our troops to be properly equipped, but it's hardly something that is guaranteed to get you into office.
Tax cuts? They will undoubtedly trot that out, but if people are not feeling richer, that's unlikely to go far. They can brag that they have decreased taxes by X million, but if the only place you see it is on a daily coffee, .03 to .05 cents cheaper, well that is hardly the stuff of leadership and inspiration.
So what are we left with? Program cutting, environmental irresponsibility, attacking the Institutions of the country, diminishing our role in the world vis a vis contemplating not campaigning for a seat on the Security Council, Senate Reform?
Come on, help me out here. Where precisely has Harper led us?
Dion is prepared to set out a vision. It's a risky one, but isn't that what leaders do? Don't they assist us in seeing who we want to be? Don't they lay out a way to make that possible? I think so.
Do you need to be an inspirational speaker to do that? Well, there is no disputing that that helps, but given that neither man is that particularly, I think what is more important in this upcoming race is the position each man takes.
Dion seems to be heading toward articulating the plan that he stood by throughout the leadership race. Have some of his positions changed? Maybe. That to me suggests someone who is able to adapt to what is. The Con's call adapting to current conditions a 'flip-flop'. Beyond ridiculous.
The upcoming race will be interesting.
Those of you who underestimate Dion, I think, are making a mistake.


Austin said...

You know, one thing about revealing snippets, rather than the whole platform, is that brings the whole debate into the national consciousness. People can think the worst, people can think the best, and they will argue all over the place on what they think is the best way to address this problem of climate change in a "fiscally prudent" manner.

On the debate side, the CPC will lose hands down. They simply lack the collective intelligence to discuss this issue in any meaningful way. And this contrast of "vision vs vacuum" will be illustrated yet again.


Northern PoV said...

The media seems to stuck on "this will kill Dion" rather than an intelligent discussions of the issues at hand. Such a surprise!
Such hard things to understand and explain...
What is cap-and-trade?
Why is it better or worse than a carbon tax.
Why is Gordan Campbell not roasting in hell after he introduced a carbon tax?
Why did US voters disdain (and McCain Clinton stop talking about) the gas-tax-holiday?
If not NOW, then WHEN Mr. Kinsella?

Just another example of our media following the US example of replaying right-wing talking points rather than doing a little work.
Easier to sit in their SUVs waiting in a 10 minute Tim-Horton's drive-thru line, checking their RSS feeds from Ryan Sparrow up than do some work.

ottlib said...

northern pov:

When the media get hold of a narrative they are loath to let it go even when it has long gone past its best before date. Hell, even Chantal Hebert was having difficulties finding real credible new material with which to continue her vendetta against Mr. Dion.

So they latch onto anything that will give it some new life.

So kudoes to Mr. Dion and the Liberal brain trust for presenting this idea in the current media atmosphere.

They had to know that the media would assume the worst about his idea but they went ahead with announcing it anyway. That took some real intestinal fortitude.

knb: One of the reasons why the Conservatives won the last election was the Liberal campaign was completely lacking a central vision or theme. Mr. Harper won with his "five priorities" (really just three and a quarter) because Mr. Martin and company had nothing with which to counter them. There are encouraging signs that the Liberals under Mr. Dion will not made the same mistake.

I think another way to describe the next election may be that Mr. Harper will put together a election platform to get re-elected while Mr. Dion will put together a platform to make Canada greener, fairer and more prosperous.

I am really looking forward to celebrating a Liberal victory if that comes to pass.

Karen said...

austin, I would agree that it's not bad strategy to get the debate going.

I'd like to hear more from some serious thinkers who are too often ignored by media.

Maybe this will draw them out to point out once and for all how Harper/Baird have done nothing and plan more of the same.

Karen said...

Northern pov, while I agree that the media is stuck on the CPC talking point, this time I think it may play in Dion's favour.

Afterall, he's not about to lay out a plan that will devastate the country, is he?

My sense is that all the nonsense babble that the CPC have been selling is going to be exposed or at the very least be shown to be the fear mongering that it is.

I don't think that will happen over night, but as I said to austin, the experts are bound to start weighing in.

Karen said...

ottlib, so am I.

I would agree that Harper's platform will be all about re-election, but as I said in the post, it elludes me as to what that might mean.

I asked my partner (who's not a political junkie) last evening what he felt Harper had accomplished since taking office. Other than not having an election 6 months after taking office and the few cents of GST off his coffee, nothing. He gained no income tax relief and frankly he hadn't a clue what Harper had done for the past 24 months for the average voter.