Monday, December 11, 2006

Orange and blue make greyish brown, not green

The Star's Hebert opines this morning that the NDP and the Conservatives may try to make some cooperative environmental policy splash before the next election to demonstrate their Green creds, concerned as they are with a resurgent Elizabethan Green Party and the Dion-led Liberal green revolution.


In the wake of St├ęphane Dion's leadership victory, getting the environment card off the table before the next campaign has become an absolute priority for both Stephen Harper and Jack Layton.


Even if Harper came up with the most aggressive environment plan in decades at this point, it would have little credibility without some outside support. The imprimatur of the NDP could make the difference.


The climate-change sections of the bill have lots of blanks begging to be filled. If the NDP and the Conservatives can come to a meeting of the minds, the environment may yet be neutralized as a leading-edge election issue.


While I agree with Chantal's thesis, I'm doubtful the NDP and the Cons could pull it off. It's an interesting strategic proposition though.

The environment aside, the NDP desperately needs to show a win before the next election. They need to show they've accomplished something, they need to justify the whole lent vote thing, or they risk their vote bleeding both to the Liberals and the Greens. On the other side, being seen as cozying-up to/propping-up the Conservatives is a risk for the NDP; and something that would surely be exploited by our Liberal spin machine (now retrofitted to run on hydrogen power).

And on the environment, could the NDP and the Cons find enough common ground to come together on a deal? There would be a lot of needles to thread to convince their respective constituencies it's not a sell-out. I'm doubtful.

Also, if they're to neutralize the environment as an election issue, in theory, this would have to be one comprehensive, all-encompassing, end-to-end save the environment kind of a thing. OK, it's fixed they'd say, moving on.

You don't fix the environment in one fell swoop, and particularly not with a desperate pre-election face-saving gambit. It's going to take lots of thinking, lots of debate, lots of compromise, and a consensus built amongst Canadians over time. There are no quick and easy fixes on this file, no matter how badly Jack, Stephen, and indeed all Canadians may want one.

As Scott Brison said in his convention speech, it's the environment, stupid. And it will continue to be for a long, long time.

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Steve V said...

The only caveat about the NDP/Conservative angle is they don't have the votes, so ultimately it is up to the Bloc or Liberals. That said, Layton is quite dangerous now as he sees his poll numbers dropping. To look relevant, Layton may endorse a partial environmental sellout. Purity may well take a backseat to politics.

Ed King said...

Steve v,

Assuming all members are well enough to vote, the Cons(124) and the NDP(29) have one more member than the Liberals(102 minus speaker) and the BQ(51). There are two independents: Garth Turner and Andre Arthur. Unless both these members vote against the government, the Cons and NDP can pass a budget. Unless the budget raises taxes, Arthur, who is currently undergoing cancer treatments, is almost certainly going to support it.

Reality Bites said...

A lot of swing NDP supporters are infuriated by seeing him in bed with Stephen Harper. Unless the deal is something that will drive Conservatives crazy, it might be of little help to Layton.

All in all though, I think Canadians have learned an important lesson - a Conservative government supported by the NDP is a Conservative government. It's not Liberal under a different name like they were hoping.

I expect a real drop in NDP support in the next election and I don't think there's anything they can do about it.

FurGaia said...

There would be a lot of needles to thread to convince their respective constituencies it's not a sell-out.

I have been reading American bloggers day in and day out asking whether Bush had lied about Iraq and WMD when the answer to that was obviously yes and that had been known for a long time. My only explanation for such odd behaviour is that people did not (and some clearly still do not) want to accept that they had been conned into believing the guy, and twice for that matter!

I am noticing the same odd behaviour as regards Layton. Why do we keep asking whether he is going to sell out to Harper or not as if that would be a first? He has done so already.

Now if the discussions were in terms of strategy alone, I would understand. There's nothing new with parties allying with each other to counter their mutual opponents. I only wish we would avoid discussing such bargains between Layton and Harper as if it would be the first time that Layton would be selling out NDP values. Clearly it's not! Hence in this case as in all the coming ones, no, I don't think, as you pointed out Jeff that there will be "a lot of needles to thread to convince [his] constituencies it's not a sell-out", they are used to that by now. The question IMO is how far are they willing to let Layton go before they rein him in or replace him?

Mike said...

Jack Layton went to Paul Martin and offered to continue supporting the Libs in exchange for some commitments on Health Care. Paul Martin essentially told him to take a hike. Paul Martin and his team then proceeded to completely screw up the election campaign. Paul Martin had hs9i chance and blew it, completely.

I'm none too happy about Jack and the NDP playing these games with the Cons, either, but lets get over this whole "the NDP sold out to the Cons in the last election" meme.

The LIBERAL lost the last election. Period. When are you arrogant bastards going to start taking responsibility for your own failings, instead of blaming everyone else? You want to defeat the Cons? Come up with some good policies and point out how shitty the Cons have governed.

Trust me, I may decide to vote for a party other than the NDP in the next election if this goes too far, but I sure as hell won't vote for the Liberals, not after the arrogant whining I keep hearing about this stuff in places like this. And I can guarantee you I am not alone.

You don't like the NDP. We get it. Now grow up.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Steve, I'm not sure if they'd put it in a budget or not, it could be just a regular bill, although Harper might decide to make it a confidence motion. Either way, I think their strategy would be to dare us to vote against it, and then paint us as phonies/anti-green if we did.

...arrogant bastards...arrogant whining...grow up...

Et tu, Mike?

Your venom is misplaced, and unnecessary. No where in this post did I blame the NDP for the Liberal election defeat in January or anything of the sort.

I put forward my analysis of the current situation, which is that the NDP needs a win or two, some accomplishments, to take back to the electorate. I submitted they're in danger of being squeezed by the Greens and Liberals. I submitted the environment is a big issue. And I submitted they'd have a hard time finding common ground on an agreement with Harper that both the NDP and Con constituencies would find palatable.

You may not agree with the analysis, but I'd hardly call it either arrogant or whiny.

And I've never called people I disagree with bastards.

The Jurist said...

I'd certainly agree to the extent that the more natural fit for a real agreement on the environment is between the opposition parties. And in that vein, I'd hope the Libs will be willing to work toward a consensus strategy now, rather than refusing to get anything done as long as they're in opposition.

That said, I'd also hope we can agree that the lack of a complete consensus on all environmental issues doesn't mean that there's a need to start up yet another full consultation process before getting anything done - particularly given that the Libs' poor reputation (and record) comes from precisely their history of consulting the issue to death rather than taking action. It should be possible to recognize the value in agreeing on immediate measures and targets while working out further details later - sending the message that "It's being fixed" rather than "It's entirely fixed". And it'll certainly reflect poorly on the Libs if they both refuse to participate in reaching a current consensus, and demand that nothing be done until such a consensus is reached.

Anonymous said...

From a purely political standpoint, this deal may allow the Conservatives to outflank the Liberals on the environment. (Especially if the deal has substance

Given that Dion seems (And I stress the word seems) to be a one issue candidate at this point, this could be trouble)

If I were the Conservatives, I would take on most of the proposed NDP amendments and sell their modified Green plan aggressively to the voters in the centre who will essentially determine which party will win the next election. Let the Liberals, Greens and NDP duke it out on the left.

My own view is that the Green’s have always had the best plan (using carbon taxes and reducing income taxes to induce market changing behavior, rather then implementing the useless “Carrots on a stick” approach.)

FurGaia said...

Et tu, Mike?

I think Mike was responding to my comment. Look, first and foremost, I am not a Liberal. When I comment, I do so for myself. Secondly, I am not accusing the NDP of "selling out" to the neocons although I admit that's how my previous comment came out. Bad choice of words and I'm sorry.

I should have stuck with NDP selling out its values so that in the last election (since I am dealing with that in this comment), to me it was not that Layton sold out to the neocons but Layton selling out NDP values instead. And in so doing helping Harper, of course. But I saw that as the end result not as a deliberate strategy of supporting Harper.

Now looking back, I think that what Layton did turned out right for the progressive anti-Harper community (Liberals or not). But at that time, I could not agree with Layton's refusal of being critical (except tangentially and when it was already too late) of Harper. To me, it was a question of whether you believed in this country or not, which Harper clearly did not. I regretted that Layton (even if inadvertently) was helping him.

I hope, Mike, that that settles the question.

Mike said...

Sorry Jeff but whenever this come up, people like Furgia, who are normally quite rational and informed, jump all over this meme. The same with Laxer.

Thus my outburst was not actually directed at you. It is quite frustrating to see people whom I normally agree with and like, acting like this. Its frustrating and something a I normally consider above them (and me). Its been a year and I still wonder when they will take responsibility for the loss, just as the Conservatives need to stop blaming the Liberals for all of the ills of the world, and take responsibility for actually governing.

So excuse me if I get a bit upset when people blame the wrong folks for their own shortcomings, and then are shocked when the NDP doesn't support the Liberals....

So again, this was not addressed to you and I hope you'll pardon my cynical, frustrated rant...

Mike said...


I understand, but after cruising some of the Liberal blogs on this topic, you would think that Jack Layton had committed treason in putting forward the motion that brought down the Libs last year.

Again sorry for the rant but it really drives me mad when it comes up...Like Paul Martin was the innocent victim of a nasty betrayal rather than the guy who lost...

A BCer in Toronto said...

Fair enough Mike. I'm so used to commenters making attacks that seem to completely miss everything I'm saying that sometimes I don't realize their guns may actually be directed elsewhere.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Jurist, I'm not saying we need long, drawn-out consultations. I'm just saying I think we need to educate Canadians, and bring them on board, if true action is to be successfully implemented.

Jeremy said...

If you haven't noticed, Chantal doesn't much like Dion. Neither does Travers. Both seem to be more than willing to serve as meme machines to discredit and stop Dion.

It was Travers who consistently tried to frame the leadership race as being between two horses - Rae and Ignatieff.

And it was Chantal who first put forward the idea that Dion would do horribly in Quebec. A recent poll done by Frank Graves has discredited this meme by the way. When I pointed this out the Chantal she said to me, "Yes. And i also remember kim campbell's glowing numbers." Ouch.

The point here is that there is bias in these two reporters. And I hope you're aware of it.

Anonymous said...

The NDP did sell out to the Conservatives - they were in a hurry because some of the programmes of the Liberals were to take place prior to April (i.e. Dion's environment plan was to commence Feb/06 - they did it because they wanted to stop the Liberals from implementing their plans so that they would look bad.

Not rocket science here.

Reality Bites said...

Campbell caused a very temporary massive increase in PC numbers that were (exageration to make a point) trailing the Marxist-Leninists under Mulroney. No other leader has ever caused such a boost merely by being chosen. It wasn't in any way a reflection of her appeal. It was a reflection of the hatred of the old leader. And soon enough people realized it was still the same party.

Liberal numbers have never been close to as low as PC numbers under Muldoon, and have been slowly but surely climbing since the spring to where they were tied or slightly ahead of the Cons. Choosing a leader gave them a slight bump. No more than is to be expected, nor is there any reason that once the novelty wears off the numbers should be any lower than they've been over the past few months.

I think it's also quite possible for the Liberal party to build on those numbers. Both Harper and Layton leave a lot to be desired.

The Jurist said...

Jeff: While some PR would obviously be important, I'm far from sure that's the biggest issue in the way of successful action. There's ample evidence to suggest that Canadians at large are way ahead of the larger parties on this one - it's the political system that needs to be convinced to accept change, not the public.

angela said...

oh, bollocks to all this crap about the liberals being elevated to the same status on environmental issues as the green party due to the fact dion was environment minister and handed out green scarves.

if the liberals were so green, why would myself and other ex-libs cite the environment as one of our reasons to bolt to the green party?

look forward to the elizabethan greens pointing out all the points at which the libs and greens differ, as well as the points at which dions record as envirominister doesnt differ from rona ambrose's as much as the libs would have us believe. environmental groups spent many years criticizing liberal ambiguity and lack of leadership on the matter.

yellow bracelets cure cancer more than green scarves save the earth - at least the proceeds of the former go to charities.