Too Little, Too Late

You know… try as I might, gosh darn it, I just cannot seem to get at all enthused about this campaign. As noted in the The Star earlier today, this past week was one in which everything seemed to go Dion’s way — everything that is except voter intentions. And why, you ask? Well, if you can endure yet another one of these insufferable, truly dreadful “Campaign Diary Day” videos that the Dion team insists on churning out for some completely inexplicable reason, it doesn’t take an advanced degree in Physics (or “rocket science” if you prefer) to plot the exact co-ordinates of where the problem resides.

So, the party is releasing its platform tomorrow. Huzzah! Isn’t that just a stellar fucking notion, two weeks into the campaign? Oh sure, it’s something a few of us in the peanut gallery have been asking about for… like six months now (actually almost twice that long if you go back to the last spate of by-elections in the fall of 2007) and were fobbed off with the lame explanation that it wouldn’t be prudent to release it at the present time, and so on. But NOW it seems is the perfect time! There will, apparently, be “big ticket items” in it… Great. How completely mental is that? I mean, what planet are these people inhabiting, exactly?

Yepper, that’ll be a real boost for the Liberals’ flagging campaign alright. After all, in the middle of hellacious shitstorm on Wall Street that’ s seized markets with mordant terror in the face of imminent collapse and has sent urgent panic signals all over the place about where the economy may be headed in the near future, why it’s just what Canadians are demanding… MORE POLICY! And unspecified “big ticket items”… Urgh, it is to laugh.

The BC wing of the party rolled out its own platform last week. Did you notice? No, I didn’t think so. Nor, I’m quite confident did 98.49% of other voters (and yes, I just made up that number… so sue me.) It focused a lot on the court challenges program, the safe needle injection site in Vancouver, a crime-fighting “taskforce” (now with more gang-busting police action!), and increased SWC funding. All quite thrilling stuff, let me tell you.

And so it goes with this absolutely horrific campaign…

Update: Maybe I titled this post incorrectly. It could actually be a case of “Too Much, Too Late”… I’d almost be prepared to launch a countdown 10-9-8-7… as to precisely how long it will take for the Conservatives to hit back with some mockery based on the infamous “Red Book” — now almost a byword for broken promises. Either that, or I’m thinking that Neville Chamberlain might be making a walk-on appearance. Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen. At this point, I think all we can do is start making these gloomy sorts of wagers. Or just turn off the TV, don’t read the papers, heaven forbid don’t watch YouTube, and pretend the whole thing isn’t happening. (Do you really want to be seeing, as has been promised, “Stephéne Dion unplugged”?)

What Ken Said

If the Liberals had half a fucking clue (excuse my language) they’d have Dryden’s speech up as a YouTube video instead of making me show this instead.

Anyway, here are some highlights from the speech:

Like their slogan: “We’re better off with Harper.” This is their slogan; their ad – “We’re better off – with Harper” – like saying “taking everything into consideration, despite all this or that, on the whole, really, probably we’d have to say, (“we’re better off with Harper”). Not exactly a ringing endorsement. Nothing energizing about it, nothing exciting. Nothing that makes you want to wake up in the morning and race into the possibilities of your day. Yet this is their message. Even in their dreams they can’t quite express anything stirring, anything big. Is this what being a Prime Minister is about? What Canada is about?

Then there’s the blue vest, the “Mr. Nice Guy” ads. Ad firms are paid millions to tell the story their client wants told. It’s much easier for them when it’s a new “product” or a new “person” launch. When the information they provide is the only information – when the public knows nothing else. The problem for Mr. Harper is that the public does know something else. They’ve been watching him for 2 ½ years and Stephen Harper, they know, may be lots of things, but he’s not a “nice guy.” He’s not.

Nice guys don’t cut literacy programs. Nice guys don’t cut funding to women’s groups, aboriginal groups, health and childcare and poverty and disability groups. Toying with them month after month, teasing them with silence and desperate hope. If, they say to themselves, if I don’t say anything, if I just go quiet, maybe I might get something. Please. Then crumbs, or nothing.

[snip]… “Better off with Harper”?
NO.

We are more than this.

This election is about something.

Stephane Dion may get a lot of criticism, but he is trying to make this campaign about something. Mr. Harper is not.

Leadership, real leadership, is first of all, most of all, knowing what’s important – then focusing on it, sharing it with others, then determinedly, relentlessly, together, getting there.

I don’t believe in “hidden agendas.” I find arguments like that just too easy. I just want to know where Mr. Harper’s going. Tell me. Tell us. What is your vision of this country? How should it work? What should it be? What is the best “US” now and for the future? How does Canada become what Canada can be? Tell us. We need to know. Tell us how, person to person, we, as Canadians, should relate to each other? What we can expect of others, and what others can expect of us? Tell us what role government should play, and shouldn’t? Tell us about families, in busy, complicated real, not fanciful lives, how as parents we give ourselves and our kids a real chance at all that’s in us to be. Families are not just card games with kids – tell us. We need to know.

And once you’ve told us that, tell us why you’re not saying to Canadians that to realize this vision, one you believe so important to our present and future, so unbelievably exciting to you and to all of us, that you need us, all of us, that you need a majority to do it? Say it, say it, why wouldn’t you? Shout it from the rooftops —- after you’ve told us your vision of the country, and for the country. After you’ve decided this campaign is not about nothing.

Mr. Harper wants this campaign to be about nothing because on all those things the campaign needs to be about, he has nothing to offer.

This campaign is NOT about Mr. Harper. It is NOT about him. It is about our present and future economy, about climate change, poverty and learning. It is about all Canadians having a real chance. It’s about encouraging, allowing, seeking out voices different from our own, that make us smarter; that bring us to our best and keep us from our worst. It’s about our understanding of ourselves as a country, about the importance of Canada in the world of our future. This is a campaign about BIG, IMPORTANT things.

In an election about nothing, Mr. Harper will win. In an election about something, we will win. We have 23 days.

THIS IS NOT ABOUT HIM. THIS IS NOT ABOUT NOTHING.

The whole transcript can be found here.

Elizabeth May

Here’s an interesting CBC News profile of the Green Party leader from a couple of years ago.

As a sometime Green voter (provincially at least) it’s interesting to watch her progress and hard not to feel supportive of her efforts even though they seriously undermine whatever waning viability the Liberals may have and will almost surely lead to a Harper majority government. (Good luck with that!)

When I ran into the rather clueless fellow who I mistakenly thought was the NDP candidate for my riding (turns out he was just a volunteer, but gave every impression he was actually running… go figure — I actually feel kind of pissed off having wasted so much time yammering to him), the first thing he brought up with regards to Elizabeth May was that “she used to work for Mulroney, you know” — which I guess is the Dippers’ sleazy way of trashing her reputation by association. Yes, she was an environmental advisor to Mulroney… and so what? When I put that question to the NDP guy he was lost for an answer that went much beyond stammering, “Mulroney…eeeeevil.”

Aside from being a charming motor-mouth, I kind of like the fact that she’s a bit quirky… phobic about cell-phones, prefers trains to planes, and so on. It may seem dumb, much in the same way that preference based on beer-sharing is, but there’s something that’s kind of engaging about such idiosyncrasies nonetheless. As for her religiosity… well, not so much, to be honest, but even for a diehard secularist like me her relatively innocuous brand of Anglicanism is, to borrow from Douglas Adams, “mostly harmless.”

h/t: Saskboy

Small Farm Canada

Who knew that Canada’s small farmers had their own magazine? With quite funny farm-centric cartoons no less…

Kind of interesting to get a bit more information on this all-important segment of the economy that we “elitists” in the cities tend to overlook and largely take for granted. It came to my attention by way of a local family farm (“Sea Bluff”) in Metchosin that raises Dorset lamb, Berskshire pork and, for the first time in fifty years… local wheat. Which, I must say, makes for a great snack food just “as is” (probably one of those things where more calories are expended just eating it than are consumed)…

In the latest edition, there’s an article about wind-power alternatives along with a link to the Canadian Wind Energy Atlas (part of a project launched back in 2000 by the eeeeeevil Liberals) that’s kind of a cool resource if you want to check and see how your part of the country stacks up in terms of potential wind energy — quite surprisingly low around southern Vancouver Island it seems. In fact, across most of Canada that appears to be the case, where the annual mean wind energy seems to be 50m except for the coastal areas.

EU-FTA Paranoia

There are those who seem to want to make a big, scary deal out of the story that appeared days ago in the Globe & Mail about free trade negotiations between Canada and the European Union, casting it in some nefarious light. Well, sorry to be the one to burst your conspiracy theory bubbles there folks, but this really is pretty much of a yawning non-story — at least in the trade community.

These negotiations have been ongoing for years, and actually take root in the days of the Chrétien government and their efforts to escape the stranglehold of our excessive trade dependence on the United States by attempting to open up new global markets for Canadian exports abroad. The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade together with Export Development Canada have been diligently hammering away at this for almost a decade, so to trot this out now as some dark plan hatched by the Harper “neo-cons” for “integration” with the EU is pretty laughable. In truth, these talks have been nearing fruition for some time over the past year, with David Emerson talking it up at every available opportunity on the chamber of commerce business luncheon circuit.

It should also be noted that, as part of working towards this goal of broadening Canada’s trade bilateral ties with global trading partners within the framework of its so-called “Global Commerce Strategy,” the government signed a new free trade agreement (FTA) earlier this year with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland worth an estimated $11 billion annually. At the risk of boring everyone from here to kingdom-come to death, I could go on…

Sorry Allison, but you’re barking up the wrong tree here.

Cold Cut Cannon

And so it’s come to this: “Fire salami slices from your cold cut cannon over the skies of Parliament to defend the honour of Canada and the sensibilities of your fellow citizens!” Good grief.

Tasteless, juvenile, reprehensible, etc. to be sure. The difference being that had the shoe been on the other foot, this crappy little game would have been on the Conservative website.

Bloody Staples

It would be natural to think that the Liberals’ proposed “Green Shift” plan that purports to cut taxes on income, investment and innovation, and shift those taxes to pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, waste and so on, would have a significant negative impact on Alberta, given the fundamental role played by fossil fuels its economy. And it will — there’s absolutely no doubt about that. The question is what the nature and extent of that impact will be.

David Staples, a “serious” journalist with the Edmonton Journal (who also writes extensively on popular culture), has a short piece (and by short we mean 250 words short) on the CanWest wires today with the alarming headline “Green Shift would bleed Alberta, experts say.” Um, okay. So, we look through the piece to see who the “experts” are making this claim and what do we find? Well, nothing at all really.

Staples starts off by citing some dubious and highly inflammatory remarks made by Liberal MP Ken Boschcoff several months ago that Green Shift is a way to transfer money out of Alberta into the rest of Canada and then moves on to University of Calgary professor David Keith, who shoots down the idea of a wealth transfer out of Alberta and says that some negotiations with the province would be needed. And that’s it. Period. No “experts” saying what’s claimed in the headline at all. Nothing, Nadda, Zip, Zero, Zilch! To put it quite bluntly, this little article is complete, unmitigated, phoned-in BULLSHIT.

Oh, and here’s a kicker, Environment Minister John Baird said earlier in the week that the “Green Shift” might actually be welcomed by the oilsands industry. Of course, he was attempting to make the case that it would create a “pay-and-pollute” system (as opposed to the Conservative “plan”), but still… this is the Conservatives saying that the doom and gloom for Alberta economic scenario they’ve been painting may not actually be true.

Update: Apparently, the print version that appeared in the Edmonton Journal is more extensive than what was posted over the wires by CanWest. Thanks to Gayle in the comments for pointing out the more complete article which is available here. Notwithstanding the headline, it presents a considerably more balanced assessment of how the Liberals’ “Green Shift” carbon tax might impact the Alberta economy.

Update2: Garth has a very good Q&A summary regarding the “Green Shift” on his blog today. What a pity the Liberals didn’t put something like this together ahead of the game to preemptively address these sorts of questions. Oh well. Live and learn, I guess.