Listening is a process not to be rushed


Stéphane Dion demonstrates that he was listening all summer by implementing a policy change his rural MPs were already pleading for in the spring. Could the listening, perhaps, have benefited from being a bit more front-loaded?


Listening is a process not to be rushed

  1. Dion the ‘listener’.

    Well that’s one way to look at it. The way that happens to put the most positive light on one of the biggest political blunders in Canadian political history (raising fuel prices during a fuel crises).

    How ’bout, Dion the political panderer – changing his tune when he has to face the music.

    Or, Dion the unprincipled – sure he believes that the earth is cooking us all to death, but hey, he’s gotta placate the rural vote.

    Or, Dion the weak – the supposed man of vision, on the issue that’s closest to his purported moral fabric, caves to the partisans of his party.

    Dion the ‘listener’? Gee Paul, you could be a Liberal party spokesperson.

  2. I absolutely love it when my point goes sailing over a guy’s head.

  3. Gee thanks, PW, the point then clobbered us here in the back row…

  4. Yeah, sorry about that. It wasn’t very subtle, was it. Or so I would have thought.

  5. Serves us back-row types right, I suppose, since the back row is where all the trouble makers usually congregate.

  6. Paul, I was wondering what that ambiguous glancing suggestion at the end was meant to accomplish.

    I now see it was an attempt to provide cover for the “Listening” headline, followed by the “listening” body.

    Media bias 101 – the headline and the opening are what the author intends to convey. The disclaimer at the end is purely for CYA purposes. Particularly the utterly vague ones.

  7. kody, please accept this friendly suggestion to cheer up. Go back and appreciate the subtle Inkless irreverent snark in past headlines and text. You may have missed the chance to enjoy many a post…

  8. [Kody] may have missed the chance to enjoy many a post…

    I have it on excellent authority that when pictures of Boisclair, Paul Martin and Brown appeared in a recent post claiming they were pictures of Barack Obama, it was in fact, intentional and not a misprint!

  9. In the interest of full disclosure I am not now,never have been,and never will be a Liberal,but Wayne Easter works.

  10. Media bias 101 – the headline and the opening are what the author intends to convey. The disclaimer at the end is purely for CYA purposes. Particularly the utterly vague ones.

    kody, you’re talking about a “headline” and “opening” on a post that consists of TWO SENTENCES… methinks someone didn’t read carefully at all.

  11. Yeah, I should lighten up.

    On another hilarious zany, mad capped note,

    the U.S. networks (after wall to wall Obama coverage last week) didn’t even air the keynote speakers at the Republican convention tonight.


    that’s funny.

    Abusing the position of impartial purveyors of information to advocate on behalf of one’s ideological ally ….giggle, giggle,

    it’s just so kooky and fun.

  12. Kody: I’m curious.. do you think Macleans is part of the SCLM (“So-called liberal media”) or just Paul and Kady? (I think I’ve seen you accuse her of being an LPC mouthpiece when all she was doing was doing her job).

    I ask because if you were to do a poll of the progressive blogosphere, you’d find most would feel that Macleans has turned more conservative since the Ken Whyte took over.

  13. Scott,


    Paul and Kady, primarily.

    A couple of points. I notice that obviously partisan liberals such as yourself tend to align with (and openly support) them such that their posts appear to mimmick many liberal blogs, while obviously partisan conservatives, such as I, view them as adversaries.

    The proof is in the pudding there.

    In terms of “doing their job”, the “job” is in the eye of the beholder. I have no doubt that you view their opinions, premises, decisions what to include and what to exclude, as a job well done.

    Here’s one that I’d bet the farm on: Paul and Kady haven’t voted conservative for some time, if ever.

    Crazy? No. The vast majority of journalists are generally ideologically left and vote Democrat/Liberal. Most honest ones will admit that. They’ll tell you however that they can overlook this inherent bias ( all the while their writing completely belies this remarkable claim).

  14. Kody! Dude!

    PW was mocking monsieur Dion in this post. And it was a well-deserved, uh, mock!

    Too bad you’ve gone and bet the farm. What with Dion preparing his Government of Canada Rural Polluters Rebate Cheque for you and all…

  15. It’s good to be able to change your mind when the evidence presents the necessity, especially when colleagues disagree strongly.

    Much better than a rigid ideologue who disregards reality in favour of dogma and posturing.

  16. Does anyone truly believe that oil will stay above $100 by the end of 2008?

    Anyway…what is the big deal with accommodating the realities faced by the farming and transportation industries? At least there is a point to it (and as far as I’m aware, the form that these subsidies will take i.e. blank cheque versus capital cost loans is still a matter of debate). No plan is perfect, and anyone who professes to have a magic bullet to prod the economy along with economic uncertainty over the horizon (oh…I don’t know…like a 2% cut in the GST) are just revealing their stupidity in advance.

    Now…to truly appreciate “pandering”, how about the fat cheque Harper gave to each and every Quebecer. Or maybe the sudden about-face on investments to Ontario’s auto industry to support…get this…a “fuel-efficient V8 engine”. Or maybe the Chinese head tax apology.


  17. kody, what, you can’t afford therapy?

  18. Please, Kody, don’t stop educating everyone now. I haven’t had this much fun in ages.

  19. “The proof is in the pudding there.”

    Um, Kody, isn’t it “The proof of the pudding is in the tasting.” — ergo the proof of the reporting is in the reading and comparing BOTH SIDES. You’re failing the taste test there Kody.

  20. Kody,

    While I would agree that there is a pretty strong anti-Conservative streak to Kady’s writing, Wells is an equal opportunity basher, and has plenty of fire to lob in everybody’s direction. I can’t think of any Canadian pundit who was more critical of Martin, except maybe Coyne.

    But in the end, the authors here, at least while blogging, are more opinion columnist than reporter, and are entitled to whatever bias they choose.

  21. John G:

    I think Martin was a special case. Probably likes country music.

    Wells is a Liberal. You can tell by the relativity.

    Besides, when the Tribes and Mitchell and BCL are hanging around, that’s not truth coming from the orifice. They can’t handle the truth.

  22. Geese people… must everything, in every direction, be an ad hominem attack?

    If you don’t like the message, dispute it. Stop attacking the people who write an argument (accusing bias, etc) — start attacking the argument.

    How juvenile.

  23. Think of the children Dion! You promised to stop global warming and reduce child poverty with your plan. Now it’s a dialogue and you’re throwing the children under the bus.

    On a more serious note, it just goes to show that Dion is a typical politician who will do and say anything to get himself elected.

    According to Dion, he was initially for a cap and trade scheme, and then his ideas ‘evolved’ to Green Shift and now they are ‘evolving’ again to rebates for those things that pollute the most.

    And yet we are still getting this credulous coverage about how he’s listening and involved in dialogue with the electorate.

  24. Well of course Mr. Wells is Liberal.

    Him and Mr. Dion both wear glasses. This is too much to be coincidence.

    As for Kady… she is only Liberal until she gets on Mr. Sparrow’s e-mail list.

  25. I think you have a point, Paul, but I’m of the view that politics is about comparison. Dion’s slowness to compromise is contrasted with Harper’s refusal to compromise. Indeed, his regular punishment of those who disagree in public. While I certainly agree Mr. Dion sometimes sticks to his guns too long, at least he’ll admit when he’s wrong.

  26. How can you not ad hominem that?

  27. Maybe Jason is right(insert stopped clock ad hominem here):

    Globe and Mail, January 16. “The Harper government has refused to provide financial aid to the auto industry, including funding to support a $300-million plan to reopen a shuttered engine plant in Windsor, Ont. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said this morning that Prime Minister Stephen Harper made it clear when he met with the premiers last Friday that Ottawa is not prepared to inject funding into specific projects.”

    Globe and Mail, January 17. “Ottawa won’t dole out direct financial aid to help reopen a shuttered Windsor, Ont., Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. engine plant, because the Harper government doesn’t believe in targeted subsidies to specific firms, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says.”

    Windsor Star, tonight. “Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to pledge $80 million worth of financial support Wednesday toward a $600-million Ford investment to reopen its mothballed Essex Engine Plant in Windsor, Ont.”


  28. I’m kind of sad that Dion hasn’t been able to sell the Green shift….he just isn’t the right saleman for the job.

    It is an excellent policy both for the environment and the economy – it would spurn the creation of a very strong environmental economy that – let’s be honest – is much more relevant to the future global economy than oil.

    It would give Canadians a way of reducing their taxes by using less of something that is bad for the environement vs. income tax which I can’t control.

    I continue to misunderstand why true conservatives would be opposed to something that injects more market-based principles into the tax system.

  29. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, running on the Green Shift instead of the economy was nuts. The Green Shift is something you bring in in your first or second budget in a majority government position.

    Running on such a platform is waay to high risk. The topic is going to be so polarized and politicized that, even if you do win a majority, you’re going to cause too much of a rift in the population. And if you don’t win a majority — egad — you run the risk of making such a change completely impossible for any future government to make.

    In short, running on a controversial new tax structure is a piss-poor way of showing you really care about the goals that structure is trying to accomplish.

  30. The comparisons to John Tory’s school funding policy will continue to grow with this development. Like Tory, Dion said he was standing on principle, and would not alter his policy even in the face of criticism or opposition. Now, facing the possibility of MPs going offside in a campaign, he is forced to alter the policy. While it may placate some of the antsy caucus members, this climbdown damages the whole “man of principle and vision” line that Liberals were trying to build for Dion.

    The brief Canadian political history on carbon taxes is not a happy one. Gordon Campbell has refused to budge on his carbon tax, and all of a sudden he has seen a weak, ineffectual NDP opposition go from nowhere to being slightly ahead in the polls. Apparently in the middle of a stiff round of energy price increases, people don’t appreciate a politician jacking them up even further and telling them it is for their own good. Who would have guessed? The “eat your broccoli” approach to public policy rarely seems to end well for those who advocate it.

  31. Hey, this should help Dion shed that ridiculous “not a leader” charge.

    As for Wells, and his underhanded leftwing leanings, let’s not forget how vicious he was in attacking Paul Martin- the supposedly right leaning Liberal. Why? Part of Paul’s far reaching plan to elect a leader he knew would be disastrous for the right, timed perfectly with a Chretien leftover he knew wouldn’t last (remember, Paul was a booster of Dion early on!), thus setting the stage for Bob Rae and the New Reds to remake Canada in their bolshevik vision.

    Good one Paul. And it would have worked without those meddling kids!

  32. Or perhaps Paul’s headline should have read, READING is not a process to be rushed.

  33. I vote for Dennis : as he said : The “eat your broccoli” approach to public policy rarely seems to end well for those who advocate it. : well said Dennis and exactly on point. The build your central plank of your platform on shifting sands is not exactly strategically a sound move. But no one should be surprised by this the Liberal Party threw a hail mary awhile back and it is now hobbling it’s way to it’s destination which judging by the look of it will be out of bounds and the clock is running down.

  34. “it would spurn the creation of a very strong environmental economy that – let’s be honest – is much more relevant to the future global economy than oil.”

    yes, anyone who disagrees with the Carbon Tax is just not being honest.

  35. The last “leader” to “listen” and implement a “change” on the election scene was John Tory to faith based funding.

    Is the Green Shift going to be Dion’s “Faith Based Funding”?

    Is the Green Shift like Paul Martin’s “Notwithstanding” Hail Mary?

    I think the Green Shift will still float as well as a lead balloon in Campaign time. It would’ve been smarter to say what “Green Initiatives” your going to start then implement the tax after you win. As it is, Dion can’t even campaign as well as George H.W. Bush.

    Dion’s campaign line, “Read my lips, loads of new taxes.”

  36. Lore: I prefer my politicians being upfront when they say they’re going to tax me.

    At least, I much prefer it to when they say “We won’t raise taxes”, then get into power and raise taxes by half a percentage point. Or say “We won’t tax income trusts” then get into power and.. well.. tax income trusts.

    So when Dion says “I’m going to lower income taxes, but I’ll have to pay for it by raising carbon taxes”. You at least know where it’s coming from.

    Sure.. some people might think of it at buttsecks, but I’m sure for a lot of seniors, the income trust thing was like surpiz buttsecks!

  37. I’ve always pictured Paul Wells as not Liberal nor Conservative nor New Democrat, but rather the sort of person who on election day dutifully shows up at the polling station, stares at his ballot sheet for fifteen minutes, murmurs “why do I even bother?”, walks out without even bothering to spoil the ballot, then sits at home with a bottle of cheap gin staring into space for six hours.

  38. Scott M.

    “Geese people… must everything, in every direction, be an ad hominem attack?”

    Don’t you think it’s a bit hypocritical to be decrying ad hominem attacks, right after referring to some here as “Geese people”? I don’t see how an individual’s similarity to this or that bird is at all relevant to the debate. Doctor, heal thyself…

  39. LOL. Okay, that made my day. :)

  40. Okay, here it is


    The “unavoidable” costs are:

    * $400M for farmers and forestry workers
    * $250M for fishermen and truckers
    * $250M for “environmentally friendly research” (is that on top of the $80M the Conservatives are giving to GM?)

    With the price of greenhouse gas emissions at $10 per tonne, rising to $40 per tonne in the fourth year. Current Federal Excise Tax of $0.04/litre of diesel amounts to $42 per tonne.

    So we are talking about doubling the federal excise tax over four years, with yet another set of credits for special interests. Yawn.

    Anyhow, Dion doesn’t explain why truckers, farmers, fishermen and forestry workers can’t avoid carbon emissions or pass on their costs while everyone else can.

    If trucking, paper, wood, fish and produce burns a lot of carbon, shouldn’t people see that in their grocery bills? These credits hide the environmental costs of consumer’s choices. No wonder Dion is embarrassed about backing down. tsk tsk.

    Airlines are already exempt of fuel taxes by international treaty, but a true leader would defy the WTO and impose carbon taxes on them too.

    What other industries do we have in Canada? Surely they can all make the same claims of unavoidable costs. What about manufacturers? Doctors and teachers in rural areas? I guess they can choose to move to the cities and walk to work every day like the rest of us.

    Some “shift”

  41. So, I will stick to my “Preferred Polluter” term to describe this Green Shift#2. Let’s all watch for when shift #3 gets wrung out of Dion by his caucus.

  42. I have some suspicions here….Paul Wells is a fan of the arts, a jazz expert, theatre, opera and all that artsy stuff – he must be Liberal.

    LOL…the paranoia of the conservatives regarding the media.

    It’s a genetic disorder with them. Just look at what’s happening in the US….McCain’s blaming the press and won’t do interviews because they’re talking about their gal Palin. Damn that media bias.

  43. Gosh PW et al., don’t pick on the poor con-troll – Kody was just so excited to see a bright shiny thing that he didn’t bother to read it before he jumped in.

  44. If you want to stake your future on a carbon tax, just GO FOR IT. These attempts by the Liberals to shield themselves from any possible criticism by trying to sell this plan as utterly harmless to anyone only make it look like yet another cynical scheme.

    On media bias squabble: much that every political loser likes to blame the media, I’ve concluded that the media is universally biased towards itself ahead of all other considerations. The Globe will run headlines that take up the top half of the front page about poll shifts within the margin of error. Reporters will complain about the accomodations the parties give them. They will write articles about controversies they create out of boredom (“Harper dogged by abortion questions”). The worst example I’ve seen in this regard was the controversy over the Martin Liberals leaked post-secondary policy in the last campaign. “Liberals in disarray” became the story, rather than anything voters might care about (such as: details of the policy), because the reporters on the plane were cranky about not getting the news first.
    I expect much of the same in this campaign, but I remain hopeful that it will not be worse than the spectacle of Wolf Blitzer and Candy Crowley obsessing over a 17 year old girl’s uterus for 72 consecutive hours.

  45. We should all consider the reasoning behind all these. Maybe he does make sense somehow.

  46. We are about to find out if Dion should have changed his major policy position earlier. CanWest is reporting Harper is going to GG on Sunday and election will be Oct 14.

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