With no mention of their own policy, the Tories have been attacking Dion's plan. Is this just a mask for their own lack of direction when it comes to policy, and the environment in particular? The answer is a resounding yes! The Tories have been surviving thus far on crafty politics, but due to a scandal plagued parliamentary session, their political machinations haven't been serving them to their comfort. Increasingly bad for the Tories is that they have no substantial policy to change the tune, so Canadians might be ready for an alternative.
Then comes Mr. Dion. Weak; not a leader; incompetent. All ways that the Harper cabal have tried to paint Dion, but Canadians will likely discard these political depictions if Dion gives them something substantial on the policy front. So far in selling his policy on the environment, Dion has been confident and convincing. He's showed a different comfort level with this issue, compared to the corny one liners he's delivered in the past such as "Harper gave you Flaherty, I gave you clarity." That wasn't funny or witty -- not even to a room full of political science students. But I digress. He's gone further than being confident: he's challenged Harper to an adult debate. Good move. His lucidity in English seems to be improved as well.
Harper might have been on to something when he tried to lure Dion into an election when he seemed weak and incapable. Well Dion smartly didn't bite, and now with his revamped political persona he's taken a large chunk of the political agenda with this week's announcement: the Green Shift.
Overall, the plan is very economically focused: it proposes tax breaks for individuals and businesses, along with tax credits for rural and northern Canadians plus an increase in things like the child tax benefit and gauranteed income supplement. Dion tries to sell this as way more than a green plan: it sets a definite focus on steering Canadians to life altering strategies respecting the use of carbon fuels and in terms ofeconomic innovation. It also sets out to directly address (though not completely) the rising number of Canadians who are considered low income, and likely living in poverty.
While we've seen Dion's plan receive positive reviews from the Suzuki foundation and TD bank economist Don Drummond, the plan's proposal also includes statements from the World Bank, CD Howe Institute, and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. Given that green plans have been typically dismissed as leftist, socialist, and environmentalist fanfare, citing these stalworths of the current neolib/neocon paradigm shows taht Dion's ideas are not simply pie in the sky.
Continuing with the plan, the good of the plan is also the bad. It is broad ranging, addressing the economy as well as the environment and poverty. Anyone has to be weary of political promises, so promising these tax cuts might be initially seen as, well, shifty. However, the taxes aren't so radical that they aren't implementable. We already see Canadians changing their way of life in a more environmentally conscious way, so Dion's challenge is to convince them to go a little further.
As for the PM's response calling the plan insane and anti western, well he's the one who's actually coming off looking crazy -- not to mention un priministerial due to his off colour language. Furthermore, he has no plan. It would be one thing if he could give Canadians an alternative to Dion's plan, but he can't. And saying the plan is anti-western, well that's just juvenile fear mongering. What part of Canada isn't heavily dependent on the use of carbon based energy and fuels? None. This means big polluters accross all of Canada will pay, and the payers most certainly won't all be coming from west of Ontario. In fact, this is a policy borne in BC -- at least in the Canadian context, so how is implementing a western concept in a national sense anti-western? The reality is that it isn't.
Dion's off to a good start with this plan, but he will need to consistently perform at this level because you can be sure that Harper and his empty barrels will be bringing the discourse level even lower, trying to swindle Canadians into accepting a sub par government. On vera.