Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Q&A political junkie session

A few items out of a Star Q&A session with Susan Delacourt and Bruce Campion-Smith caught my eye and are worth a quick noting...

For the record and since Mr. Harper has immediately taken to blatantly misrepresenting Liberal environmental plans on the heels of the convention, Ignatieff's words from the closing news conference on Sunday on environmental policy intentions are cited here by the reporters in response to a question:
We want a continental cap-and-trade with hard caps and we want to work with the industry to set caps that aren’t job killers -- that maintain the competitive advantage of Canadian businesses and industry -- but also do the serious business of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Let's remember this government has been in power for three years and have basically done nothing on greenhouse gases. The Conservative government record on this issue is a big fat zero. We will not be going into the next election with a carbon tax. We will be going into the next election with a cap and trade system with hard caps set reasonably so that we preserve jobs and meet our environmental objectives. (emphasis added)
As much as the Conservatives wish it were so, there's your answer. Not that anything will stop the typical Conservative misinformation campaign, but if it has to be clarified at every turn, so be it. The record is the Conservatives' to defend, as much as they'd like to run from it.

Second, views are expressed on the utility of negative ads against the Liberals this time round, summing up what seems to be the received conventional wisdom at the moment :
11:28 [Comment From PL]
If there is no election in June, do you think that the predictable conservative attack ads on Michael Ignatieff throughout the summer will be as effective as the same type of ads placed on Stephane Dion?

11:30 Susan Delacourt: No, I can't think that negative ads will work the same way in this climate. The Conservatives, I would think, would want to be careful about looking more concerned about politics than the economy. And Ignatieff will fight back more than Dion did.
11:31 Bruce Campion-Smith: There's no doubt that Conservatives are good with attack ads. But Ignatieff isn't quite the same blank slate that Dion was. Because of his own style, some voters already perceived Dion as a weak leader, a perception that the Conservatives were able to play on. Ignatieff isn't seen that way. I think the Conservatives instead will attempt to dredge up some of his previous writings and statements. But as Susan noted, when folks are worried about their pensions and jobs, there's not much public appetite for these kind of political games.
Must admit, I'm actually looking forward to seeing what the Conservative peanut brain trust has in store. Monumental and consequential questions of relevance to all Canadians while 357,000 jobs have been lost during this recession, I'm sure.

Note also these remarks on the perception of Ignatieff as centre-right, favourite talking point of Ignatieff critics:
11:42 TorontoStar: Which direction is the party headed politically? Centre-right, centre-left?
11:44 Bruce Campion-Smith: I think they are headed back to the centre after a tilt to the left under Dion. That's always been where political parties have found the most success in this country.
11:45 Susan Delacourt: Good question. Ignatieff is seen as centre right, but he has said several times that he thinks the party as a whole should be tilting to the left.

That said, the Liberals haven't had much luck when they swing too far to the left, as the coalition with the NDP aptly demonstrated last December. And John Turner, opposing free trade, before that.

I think when Ignatieff talks about centre-left, he means in comparison to the Conservatives, who are trying for centre right.
Interesting observation from Delacourt, this characterization of Ignatieff is something I'll be watching going forward.

Good little session for the junkies among us...