Friday, October 09, 2009

Screw the Polls, Let's Talk

Well the Liberals are certainly down and, judging from the sudden paucity of posts from Liberal bloggers, that has them down too.

Many respected Liberal bloggers are now calling for Iggy to begin releasing policy statements but his advisers, brilliant folks I'm sure, want him to wait for an election campaign. I have a couple of problems with that.

I think Ignatieff is overestimating his prowess if he thinks he can sell a complete policy platform in the brief span of an election campaign. He can't do it, he's just not that good in connecting with the Canadian public. He's better than Dion but not that much better.

Worse yet, I think if Ignatieff runs true to form, his policy platform will probably remain centre-right glossed over with a bag full of platitudes. Besides, who says an inexperienced, annointed party leader has the right to dictate party policy?

Unfortunately Mr. Ignatieff has shown that his judgment is fundamentally flawed. His position on Gaza, for example, was prematurely taken, naive and utterly inconsistent with Liberal tradition. In an awful conflict in which there were no clean hands, Ignatieff firmly lashed the Liberal Party to one side, absolving them of what turned out to be some pretty nasty war crimes.

Iggy was wrong on the Iraq war when he enthusiastically endorsed that hopelessly illegal invasion. I can understand that. He was then living in America and the mood at that time was pretty overwhelming. What troubles me is the character Ignatieff showed in changing his mind, in admitting he was wrong. He couldn't do it without trying to denigrate those who opposed the war from the outset as being disingenuously opposed, motivated mainly by a hatred of George w. Bush. Is this guy still stuck in high school? 15-year old kids do that sort of thing, not leaders of national parties.

On foreign policy, Mr. Ignatieff sees a "robust" role for the Canadian Forces, more peacemaking than peacekeeping. We've had a decade to see how well this peacemaking thing works out - in Iraq and Afganistan. Should a Liberal leader, one acclaimed to the post, be steering the party away from its traditional posture on this?

Ignatieff has been flat out wrong on his position on the Tar Sands. He claims to see Athabasca as the beating heart of the Canadian economy throughout the 21st century and has even proclaimed bitumen a key to national unity. What is this man thinking? Does he not know what's happening to our planet? Is he ignorant of what's already happening to the Athabasca region? If he mentions that at all, he glosses over it with empty platitudes.

On the environmental front Mr. Ignatieff has shown no spine, none whatsoever. He declared carbon taxing as dead, twisting the last election as a referendum on Dion's Green Shift. No need to talk about that any more, the public have spoken. That was a total and intellectually dishonest dodge.

Harper is going to the Copenhagen climate change summit with empty hands. He's done squat on global warming and our opposition leaders have been just fine with that. They've given him a pass, happy to duck the controversy themselves. That's leadership?

So, maybe it's time rank and file Liberals voiced their views on the issues of the day, stated their opinions on what the party policy ought to be. Why not right here, right now? Let's begin with the climate change conundrum.

What do you think Liberal policy should be on climate change? What would you expect of a Liberal government in terms of action on global warming?


crf said...

I hope that they will fund AECL, provide loans for provinces building ACRs, and provide loan guarantees for selling ACRs outside of Canada.

Canada has to electrify its transportation sector and further reduce fossil fuel generation of electricity. Nuclear power and Hydro are the only rational way of doing that in Canada.

Harper has no interest in Nuclear power. His interest is in selling the world oil for the next 100 years. No sane person would want to live in a world in which Harper's vision for Canada, primarily as an oil producer, succeeds. This is because, in an electrified world (the only future worth living in), there is still enough conventional oil available for its chemical, industrial and niche transportation uses. The free market, in such a world, will decide that expensive tar sands oils are not needed.

Anonymous said...

The town of Medicine Hat in Alberta is looking at using the sun to turn the turbine that is presently producing electricity by the use of gas. This is the kind of project that ought to be encouraged and supported by Harper if he is a forward thinking man. I still have not received a reply to my letter asking Mr. Harper what he intends to present to the summit in Copenhagen on the Canadian environment. I received a rely saying they were forwarding my letter to the Minister of the Environment and I would be hearing from him. They enclosed a copy of what I sent. MOS if you have another email address, I'll send the letter along if you are interested. A. Morris

The Mound of Sound said...

I take it from what you've written CRF and A.M., that you think the Liberal Party should advocate the decarbonization of Canada's economy.

I'd be delighted if they would do just that if only because it's going to be necessary if we're to control global warming before that option slips through our fingers.

The LPC needs to be able to show Canadians there is another way. To build public support for this the party needs to explain why we must do this and explain the various technologies that already exist to make this viable.

Anonymous said...

MOS...That is exactly correct but why is the LPC so bloody blind? Could it be big business dictates and a fear of standing up? A. Morris

Anonymous said...

or for that matter, not knowing how to stand up. A. Morris

crf said...

I do think decarbonizing the Canadian economy ought to be THE major political issue.

Because it is a small country (unlike the US), what Canada does inside its own borders is really, pretty irrelevant, unless it leads to the opportunity to help the 99% of the world that doesn't live in Canada. In my opinion, Nuclear power will need to be a big part of decarbonizing the electricity and process heat sectors all over the world, and Canada is one of an enviously few countries to have mastered and commercialized nuclear energy.

The world doesn't care if Iggy is just visiting, whether Jack really is in league with the Taliban, whether Gilles Duceppe is going to rend this country to pieces, or whether Steve has a Hidden Agenda, or even whether the home renovation tax credit is passed or whether we having minimal-sentence criminal laws. All those issues are at best, naval gazing, but if they remain at the forefront in the upcoming election, likely would serve as a signal that the Canada has terminal cancer of the brain.

Our political discourse has lately incorporated some more or less substantive issues such as our taxation levels, whether we have a Carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme or feed-in tariffs, and our levels of social welfare and taxes. But I don't think those should be the main focus of this election. They are irrelevant to the world at large.

At some point, as a country in the wider world, you have to put up, or shut up. The world's been waiting expectantly for nearly a decade for Canada to say anything at all relevant about its place among nations, and instead what's come out is ever-more incomprehensible babble.

The Mound of Sound said...

Well said Chris. I'm so damned tired of whiners complaining that Canada is simply too small to make a difference so why should we worry about global warming.

They refuse to accept that this is a truly "global" problem, we're all in this together. It's only by acting in harmony, co-operatively that we stand any chance of stopping runaway, catastrophic climate change.

In this effort the developed nations must lead. There's no getting around the fact that we brought the world to the position we're facing today. Granted that we didn't really comprehend the problem until the last decade but that doesn't extinguish or waive our responsibility for what we've done.

It's tragic that people in the most advantaged nations don't connect their actions, their overconsumption, with the plight that's already overtaking the least advantaged countries whose people are both the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and the least able to afford what's necessary for their survival.

I'm pretty sure the West's reluctance to engage on climate change is due to an understanding of where this leads. Scientists have already quantified just how much more carbon dioxide can be emitted to the atmosphere before we shatter the two degree barrier.

Once you arrive at a figure the question becomes who gets how much of that quota? That brings into operation the question of who owns the atmosphere? Is that quota to be divided by seven billion and parcelled out accordingly? In that case we in the industrialized West are in serious trouble because our carbon footprint, overall and individually, is massive.

Just by getting into this sort of negotiation we open the door for it to be repeated on other issues. How do we handle resource allocation, particularly shared resources such as fisheries?

Global warming is an existential threat but it's merely the largest of several. We also face deforestation, desertification, air,soil and water contamination, species extinction, resource exhaustion, overpopulation, terrorism and nuclear proliferation. There are more. As Jared Diamond points out in his excellent book, "Collapse", we can't solve one or two or three of these. In order to solve any of them, global warming included, we must solve them all.

How do we go about addressing all of these problems on a global scale (the only dimension that's relevant) and what lies in store for us if we fail?

It's plain that there can be no answer unless it's holistic. Ad hoc remedies are bandaid solutions, quick and dirty fixes that won't last. We have to look for a common answer, something that works with each of these problems and that is bound to entail a rethink of how we are to share this planet.

There is simply not enough to go around so some of us are going to have to do with less so that others may have enough. That runs against the grain of our way of life that we like to think has served us well since the Industrial Revolution.

Can a holistic solution be found? I'm sure it can. Will it? I'm just as sure it won't. I think we'd rather risk global war than entertain global solutions that entail voluntary sacrifice and the sort of trimming of our standard of living that would be necessary as part of decarbonizing our economy. I just don't think it's in our nature to do that.

LMA said...

It seems to me that the LPC passed some pretty comprehensive resolutions on fighting climate change at the 2009 convention, including incentives for alternative energy, greening the west, revitalizing ocean fisheries, stimulating a sustainable green economy, committing Canada to a 25-40% reduction in GHG by 2020, a national water policy, and the conservation of natural resources. For goodness sake, why is Ignatieff not discussing these policies, particularly if he needs to differentiate from Harper? If no leader has the guts to start this discussion, Canada will be left behind.

Anonymous said...

Population has to be included as well in any discussion and solution regarding the environment but it won't. A. Morris