Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It's still not the policy, stupid

For what it's worth, I'm one of the NDP supporters Scott Tribe is giving a shout-out to here, in the sense that if asked whether I support or reject the Liberals' carbon tax, I'd lean more toward 'support' than 'reject'. I don't like some of the specifics of the plan (Cam's concerns about muncipalities are worth mentioning), but I think it would be much, much better than what we have. And as for the "carbon tax vs. cap-and-trade" issue, well, I'm no economist, but I believe Duncan, Mark Thoma, and Environmental Economics when they say that both categories of plan are pretty much equally efficient. It's intellectually dishonest to claim otherwise.

The thing that the gleeful voices from Canada's political centre don't seem to realize, though, is this: there's a big difference between saying that you don't hate one of the Liberals' policies and saying that you'd be willing to vote for the party. In my case, all it means is that I've regained some of the appreciation I had early on for Dion as a thinker, but I still have no intention of touching his party with a ten-foot pole. In fact, even if I were a swing voter, liking a policy that the Liberals came up with would only bring up the age-old concerns about the fact that their track record on keeping their promises when in government isn't all that stellar. I mean, it's a nice fantasy to think that all Canadians have to do is elect a Liberal government and the planet will be saved, but like I said back in 2006, Liberal policies may well be "good enough" in a pragmatic approach to politics, but those policies are no good to anyone when no one bothers to enact them once the Liberals assume power.

They're kind of like the little kid who, after a whole year of goofing off, finally comes to school with a finished homework assignment and thinks he should be given an A for the whole term for his effort. And I'm a tougher grader than that.

14 comments:

Steve V said...

" I mean, it's a nice fantasy to think that all Canadians have to do is elect a Liberal government and the planet will be saved, but like I said back in 2006, Liberal policies may well be "good enough" in a pragmatic approach to politics, but those policies are no good to anyone when no one bothers to enact them once the Liberals assume power."

Wow, that's pretty condescending.

Since you linked, the "gleeful" was merely sticking it too the bottomfeeders.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Steve,

I actually didn't mean it condescendingly (well, mostly not), because it IS a nice fantasy. It's one I'd like to believe in myself, and I don't even plan to vote for the party. But until the Liberals have actually been in power again and implemented the things they've promised, this carbon tax will remain yet nothing more than another decent idea. They've had those before, but they really don't have a very good track record on the whole promises thing, and I don't think you can disagree with that.

Like I said, though, I'd love to eat my words, so come back a couple years into the Liberals' next term in government if I turned out to be wrong, and I'll concede the point!

catherine said...

I thought IP's position was fair and understandable even though I don't agree. My own views are more based on all the parties right now with their current leaders and these change as leaders change. I trust Dion.

The green shift effect on municipality is an important issue and the Liberals have named several plans which they are expecting to address this. Personally, I would have liked the Green Shift document to spell out all the plans mentioned (caps, infrastructure, incentives) but I'm not a politician and they seem convinced it is important to try to get Canadians to understand the carbon tax shift on it's own, since it is a fairly major change to our tax structure.

Mushroom said...

"And I'm a tougher grader than that."

Waaah! This is similar to you giving me a D in a first year Introductory German class on my first assignment. Knowing full well that it is my fourth language and that I have never learned it before.

"this carbon tax will remain yet nothing more than another decent idea."

The Grits will be in power again, some day. No future PM, whether it be Dion or someone else, will not ignore the environment. Whether it be cap-and-trade, carbon tax etc.

Mark Francis said...

The Green Shift policy doc makes it clear that the LPC's plan for cap-and-trade is still in place as well (see page 22).

The plot is that a tax shift is quicker to put in place and get some results than cap-and-trade.

The tax shift would get us moving the right way, and would better situate ourselves nationally to trade in offsets.

Quite a few Greens jumped ship (ahem) in order to help Dion out. I understand one's hesitation to support the Liberals given their track record, but there are some internal changes in attitude and the NDP is not likely to get power.

The most I can suggest to NDPers who won't vote Liberal is to at least look at the Green Shift objectively and find ways to improve it.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

mushroom,

Waaah! This is similar to you giving me a D in a first year Introductory German class on my first assignment. Knowing full well that it is my fourth language and that I have never learned it before.

Nah, it's more like me giving you a B+ on your first homework assignment...which you turned in in March...after getting zeroes for all the other homework assignments since September.

No future PM, whether it be Dion or someone else, will not ignore the environment. Whether it be cap-and-trade, carbon tax etc.

Ah, but as with most policies, the devil is in the details of the plan, and it's not enough to just say "I like carbon taxes," or "I like cap-and-trade". The specifics of this plan are...not awful. But with the Liberals, you're a fool if you just look at the quality of the policy; you also have to look at the likelihood that they would actually implement it if they had the chance. You can colour me a skeptic on that front. And there's an awful lot of room between implementing this plan as it stands and "ignoring the environment."

Mark,

I understand one's hesitation to support the Liberals given their track record, but there are some internal changes in attitude and the NDP is not likely to get power.

That is not an argument that will ever work on me, sorry. After voting for the "lesser of two evils" for years before coming to Canada because that was my only choice, I now vote for a party based on how that party stacks up against the policies I prefer. Every single time. If I were to ever vote Liberal, it would be because I trusted the leader and believed in the local candidate. We're nowhere close to that.

The most I can suggest to NDPers who won't vote Liberal is to at least look at the Green Shift objectively and find ways to improve it.

That's fair.

I'd add, though, that if the Liberals did gain power, it would likely be in a minority government situation, so you might end up with more input from New Democrats (and not just bloggers) than you bargained for!

D.R.M. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
D.R.M. said...

I still don't get why politicos use the "be pragmatic, vote Grit to get the Tories out” argument knowing full well of the role third\fourth\fifth parties can play in a minority parliament. And why does everyone say to vote "strategically" across the board? Why not region specific "strategic voting"? For instance, to keep a Tory out it would be "strategic" to vote NDP in Selkirk-Interlake while it would be "strategic" to vote Liberal in Charleswood-St. James.

q-pheevr said...

The other thing, of course, is that no matter how good the Liberals' environmental plan is, absolutely no one is going to vote for them until they finally let the Conservative minority government fall so we can have an election.

Deanna said...

Nah, it's more like me giving you a B+ on your first homework assignment...which you turned in in March...after getting zeroes for all the other homework assignments since September.

Exactly. This kid and his friends aren't even interesting in passing the most important tests. They've been in class since Jan. 2006, and not only do they forget to show up sometimes, the often deliberately choose not to.

Craig Sauvé said...

Nice one, Deanna.

I often wonder why we are again having this debate framed around the liberals' Green Shift, rather than around the NDP's Cap-and-Trade plan.

Both parties had press conferences (about a month apart), but the NDP's plan barely made a blip in the press.

(Same old Canadian Media: this doesn't surprise me with people like Andrew Coyne running the McLean's political bureau.)

Keep an eye on the NDP's real response, in the form of better environmental policy -which is in development now.

Purple library guy said...

It's really tactical voting, not strategic. It was in fact called tactical voting back when I first heard of the idea. Sometime in the decades since it changed, and I have to wonder if it changed because some PR people decided "strategic" sounded more positive than "tactical".

Voting for a lesser evil for the sake of this election's outcome is tactical in the sense that it concentrates on immediate outcome over longer term considerations. Voting for the party you actually want to win is strategic; it helps that party to build for the longer term, prompts more media exposure and so forth.

L-girl said...

"They're kind of like the little kid who, after a whole year of goofing off, finally comes to school with a finished homework assignment and thinks he should be given an A for the whole term for his effort. And I'm a tougher grader than that. "

Yes! Thanks for that. I shall use it and credit you.

L-girl said...

They've been in class since Jan. 2006, and not only do they forget to show up sometimes, the often deliberately choose not to.

A fact many Liberal supporters choose to forget or are forced to ignore.