Friday, October 23, 2009

Back to blogging and catching up

I know I’ve been a bad blogger lately, but with a busy stretch at work, including trips to Nashville and New York City, it’s been hard to find the time to blog. And besides, I find a blogging sabbatical every now and again can be useful to recharge the batteries, not to mention step back from the partisan strife and gain a little perspective.

I’m back to it today though, so I thought I’d share some thoughts on some of the news and events that occurred during my absence.

Welcome to the Cheque Republic: Some have complained the Liberals have been going too big on the Conservative logos and MP signatures on cheques/partisan stimulus (and now expensive Go-Train ads) story. If they have gone overly big I don’t blame them one bit. They needed to do something to change the media narrative from Liberal suckiness and this is the kind of stuff the media love, so mission accomplished.

Is there an impact however beyond changing the channel? Remains to be seen. Certainty the cheques, and the analysis of stimulus spending favouring Conservative ridings spearheaded by Gerard Kennedy and now taken up by several media organizations, feeds a negative narrative of the Conservatives. Of course, the counter is, all politicians feather their own nests. True enough. The Liberals didn’t put party logos on cheques, but that’s a distinction most Canadians are unlikely to make.

This could be another in the “death of a thousand cuts” that eventually cause governments to fall, the jury is out. It certainly does take away the Conservative moral high-ground: they campaigned on being above all this. And it could be that what would be dismissed as the usual partisan pork-barreling will be viewed more negatively coming during an economic downturn, when the government had a responsibility to help all regions of the country that are suffering. We’ll see. These things can take a while to sink it, and this thing does stink.

As I said though, if nothing else it changed the channel for awhile, and that’s a good thing.

Liberals talk policy: I’ve been lamenting the Liberal Party’s unwillingness to talk policy outside of an election campaign, so I was pleased to see a change in strategy on that front with Michael Ignatieff talking Liberal policy on the environment, on early learning and childcare, and on womens issues.

I’m sure there weren’t as many details as some would like, but it was a good pre-election step at outlining what the priorities of a Liberal government would be, including a commitment to clean energy, renewable power and cap and trade. I was pleased to see a commitment to national childcare re-affirmed as well. And for the cynics out there, I’ll note the Liberals had a system all put in place and negotiated with most of the provinces before the Conservatives and the NDP (and the BQ) allied to defeat Paul Martin’s government. Finally, the “Pink Book” on women’s issues not only speaks to a key Liberal constituency, it also puts forward meaningful and real ideas, such as micro-credit facilities for female entrepreneurs.

It’s a very good start on the policy front. Now the challenge is to get creative about getting the word out about the policy proposals, and start a debate on our issues.

Non-confidence if necessary, not necessarily non-confidence: Apparently Michael Ignatieff said last week the Liberals won’t move non-confidence at every opportunity, and will take each vote on a case-by-case basis. The media said this was a back-down from the Liberal hard-line taken post-Sudbury. Certainty came across that way. The Liberal Party insisted this was the position they’ve taken all along, so no change. If that’s the case, the nuance of that message had certainly escaped me. And I’d have to attribute that more to their failure to communicate the message clearly than to my ability to comprehend it.

Nevertheless, it’s the right course. Clearly, the election brinkmanship and being seen as itching to go to the polls without having established a compelling narrative and case was hurting us. Taking a breath, starting to work on developing that case (and talking policy), indicating a willingness to work on some issues while still maintaining your lack of confidence is a sensible course.

The polls turned bad quickly, they can turn around just as quickly as well. It will take hard work, discipline and sound strategy, but it’s more than doable. As always, the devil is in the execution.

King me: This whole public spat between the Governor General and the Prime Minister over titles and constitutional prerogatives is childish on both their parts. Harper didn’t need to call Jean out in public. Jean didn’t need to stir the pot further. They were like two squabbling children.

What bothered me more though was when I’d read comments about Canada “clinging to its British colonial roots” and other such nonsense. Look, I think it is time to have a debate in Canada about our constitutional monarchy, and about having an elected Canadian head of state. I don’t want Charles on our money.

But that said, I get annoyed when I see people talking down or saying we should dismiss or downplay our British roots. This is our history. We should embrace it, not hide from it. Yes, Canada has welcomed people from all over the world and we’re a country that allows them to keep and even celebrates their unique heritages, and that diversity and celebration contributes to the Canadian identity. But our British roots are strong and undeniable, and celebrating our diversity doesn’t mean forgetting where we came from.

So I say Rule Britannia, God Save the Queen, and The Maple Leaf Forever (original lyrics, please and thanks)!

Silence, shmilence: The NDP seem to be in a tizzy because the Liberals won’t rubber-stamp some environmental private member’s bill of theirs before the Copenhagen conference on climate change. And some of the NDP blog types seem to think there’s some kind of Liberal blog conspiracy not to talk about it, which is totally more plausible than just maybe we have other things to talk of more import than empty NDP posturing. Let me break the supposed silence though to say poppycock.

I don’t think taking the time to give due consideration to the bill, to hear testimony, and to get information on costing is all that crazy. Actually, it I think that kind of thing is parliament’s job. How do I know that? The NDP told me once.

Rushing the bill through before Copenhagen isn’t enough reason to sacrifice due consideration. Whenever the bill is passed the Conservatives will ignore it, the world won’t notice or care, and it will have no impact on the government’s climate change policy whatsoever.

What this NDP posturing is really all about is politics, and re-establishing the environmental credibility that was left in tatters when they allied with the Conservatives to demonize the Liberal green shift, a real and meaningful climate change policy supported in principle by much of the mainstream environmental community, for no other reason than partisan politics.

So no, I don’t see any particular reason to rush through their bill just so they can try to be credible on climate change again. Let parliament do its job.

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marie said...

Welcome back Jeff and a great post.
I am flabbergasted with the Reform/Cons supporters. They come back with blaming the other parties for their dictator leader and his parrot caucuses gaffs and making excuses for him at every turn like using the excuse but...but, the Liberals were doing the same all the time. They are stuck A** deep in the 90's where most of them were probably in playschool and right now are still in grade school. They have been so thoroughly brainwashed they couldn't find their way out of a paper bag.

Eugene Forsey Liberal said...

NDP, SchmeNDP, our behaviour is strange - something is going on inside caucus. Read my post, "Famous Fourteen", and if you have time, read through the minutes and testimony at committee, and reflect on the LeBlanc vote vs. McGuinty & Trudeau...something's going on. The current iteration of the OLO has only made a loose & weak semi-commitment to a possible involvement in continental cap & trade system, and nothing more on carbon pricing. If the membership indeed favours, as successive resolutions at conventions indicate, real, effective climate change policy, of which real carbon pricing is an essential element, then we should do what we can to support those members of caucus, like the Famous Fourteen, who are trying to work to make that our policy, and others, who may seem to be toeing the current ambiguous party line but whom, knowing their history and reading the tea leaves, I'm pretty sure are doing the same behind closed doors. Something's going on in caucus, and if you want to be consistent with yourself, on respecting the membership & on the policy question itself, you should speak up and help the 14 & their allies.

Mark Richard Francis said...

"Whenever the bill is passed the Conservatives will ignore it, the world won’t notice or care, and it will have no impact on the government’s climate change policy whatsoever."

If true, the Liberals should have passed it.

But it does have impact. I looked, I saw, and now the Liberals are disliked even further by me.

They had a chance to make a symbolic gesture towards the key issue of our times, and look what they did.

Barcs said...

Welcome back Jeff. :)

I gotta say that some of the liberals going over the top on the cheque issue (and others). Sorta makes them look like Layton or May. And that is not the impression you want to give people. Oppose, but do it with some class and some intelligence.

"Liberals talk policy" If you say so. They made a small commitment to a couple of things... without really talking about what they would do to further those things. And with childcare again.... "if we feel we have the money to do it"... uh huh, nice commitment to the principle and the policy. It is a good push on the idea that liberals can be fiscally responsible, but what people took away is "another decade of promises to make a childcare program that will never happen"

Anonymous said...

The thing is, you've had three years to consider the damn bill. It's time to either put up or shut up. C-311 does not prescribe a particular regulatory scheme - it would be up to the government to decided whether they want cap and trade, a carbon tax, or whatever other regulatory regime they want. All the bill does is establish hard, science-based targets and holds the government accountable to meet those targets.

Jeff said...

Really Devin, I still don't see why gunning this thing through is necessary, and I find it impossible to take the NDP seriously on the environment, not after they demonized Dion's carbon shift for nothing but pure partisan advantage. The NDP wants to gun this thing through so they can make people think they care about the environment. I'm just not buying it.

DL said...

Remind me of when the NDP ever "demonized" the Green Shift? I know the Tories did that quite a bit, but I followed the last election campaign pretty closely and as I recall, Layton never much about the Liberals or Dion or the Green Shift at all - other than to say that the NDP had a plan on the environment which he felt was superior (what else do you expect him to say?).

Meanwhile the environmental groups are up in arms over the Liberals about face on this bill. Iggy's gonna have a LOT of explaining to do.

CanadianSense said...

Welcome back on Feb 27, 2008 you wrote a scathing post.
In those twenty months since than how has the party changed?

Jon Pertwee said...

Does anyone have a greasemonkey plugin I can use to block out Canadiansense? I am really bored to death with his obsessions. Now he seems to think inquisiting other bloggers over his own interpretations is interesting. Someone needs to get a better hobby.

CanadianSense said...

John Pertwee,

Jeff Jedras has a great site and has written wonderful posts in support of the Liberal Party.

His insight is now shared on the Nationalpost.

John Pertwee why do you think it is appropriate to call for censorship on every blog you find a dissenting poster?

John on your blog install your "greasemonkey plugin" can I suggest you visit the a communist, third world country regarding those filters.

Thankfully John your repeated calls for censorship are ignored by bloggers of substance.