No ideas please, we’re Canadian


Chris Selley sees hope—or at least something completely different—in David Cameron’s Britain.

“Reticent” isn’t a word that comes to mind. What comes to my mind instead is that if either Michael Ignatieff or Stephen Harper had given that interview, Canadian politics-watchers would still be picking themselves up off the floor, and the appropriate war room would be tearing into the other guy like a pack of half-starved wolverines…

Anyone who reads a newspaper knows lean times are coming to Canada too, one way or the other—tax hikes, spending cuts, or some combination of the two. The difference between Ottawa and London is that in London, they’re actually talking about it. Indeed, to hear Cameron talk, he actually thinks he’s telling the British people what they want to hear.


No ideas please, we’re Canadian

  1. Chris Selley pulls out 4 juicy bits:

    1) budgets should be balanced, tax burdens should be fair
    2) taxes might not go down, taxes might go up (perhaps this was meant to say taxes would not stay the same, but I think not)
    3) road tolls!
    4) from wacko slush funds to wacko transparency

    The first point is such a platitude, I doubt anyone could find a single argument against it by any politician ever. The second point literally says nothing in about 40 words.
    The third is a genuine idea, but in no way a solution to the country's economic mess.
    The fourth is interesting, but how much money do you have to spend to accomplish it?

    In Canada, Ignatieff and Harper have taken clear positions on the 1&2. Ignatieff will cut spending and raise taxes if necessary to eliminate the deficit once the recession is over. Harper has stated he will not cut any major programs, will not raise taxes and wait indefinitely until the economic recovery eliminates the deficit. So our leaders have taken definite fairly controversial positions on the tough decision while theirs have promised to be "fair".

    It would be a real service to the country if political commentators like Seeley actually followed politics.

    • It would be a real service to the country if political commentators like Seeley actually followed politics.

      Huh? Selley does a great job following pundits and politics.

  2. I will say something about the lack of ideas in our politics: in short, it's our own damn fault.
    Politicians everywhere will always respond to what the public demands. If we demanded that politicians bring forward innovative policies and ideas, they would. As it is, we've scared them off. Say what you will about the carbon tax, it was an idea, and a bold innovative one at that. The result? The Liberals returned to the House with a much reduced seat count and one of the lowest percentage of popular vote ever for the party. The result? We've scared our politicians straight from new ideas, more's the pity.

    • It is interesting how emotional responses to words in the end dictate policy. If you accept any CO2 reduction target, then you more-or-less are pushed into a carbon tax or "cap and trade" scenario. Of these two, the carbon tax is by far the closest to a free market, with all of the advantages therein, whereas cap and trade creates a new byzantine marketplace full of government regulation and interpretation.
      Never-the-less the word tax pushed the ill-fated Green Shift into several bad places. First, Dion was caught in a PR hailstorm as to whether it actually constituted a tax. (Of course it did). Second, to make it revenue neutral it pushed the Liberals to earmark a range of priorities for the spending that had very little to do with CO2 emissions. (There is nothing wrong with setting social priorities, but then they should be priorities regardless of where the money comes from) The above also took away from the strongest economic argument for being an environmental leader: Regions/countries that are early adopters and develop their domestic manufacturing/service sector are the big winners in new technologies.
      Could Dion have won the day with a better carbon tax plan? Sadly I doubt it for reasons Sophia has already covered. When a politician brings forward an idea, we immediately demand all of details along with long-term promises. Any honest politician proposing to bring in a really new policy should accept that mid-term corrections will be necessary as with any new venture. The public will not accept this, so we pick away at the weakest detail, rather than building on the strength of the concept.

      • The Green Tax was never really articulated by Dion, whether because of his lack of communication skills or a lack of answers, and was never embraced whole heartedly by the Liberals. It was seen as a wealth transfer (true or not) from the Western recourse based economies to the Eastern manufacturing based areas. Much like the NEP before it, this practice will never be an easy sell to the people with the short end of the stick.

        Bold and innovative? I guess that depends on where you live and how you make a living. I could call it punitive and conniving.

        • So we can never reduce our emissions, eh? Because, as far as Alberta is concerned, they aren't our emissions at all, they're their emissions, and they'll damn well emit as much as they please, whether that makes us the laughingstock of the first world or not.

    • I'd rather blame the news media. Ask yourself this; How do you learn about what some politician and his party are cooking up, far removed from your everyday experience?

      Keep blaming the media. If anything, the petulance with which it reacts is amusing.

  3. The governing party has an easier time of it, in that they can let their actions (the Jan. budget, bailouts, etc) do the talking for them.

    Harper doesn't NEED to give such an interview. He could just as easily address the nation (or a partisan crowd) with an update on how the economic action plan is performing.

    Iggy, on the other hand, should seriously consider giving such an interview. But for now, he is playing his policy cards close to his chest–a reasonable strategy, which many agree with.