Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Harper says Canada "Back": More Dictation at 11

After Canada failed to join the coalition of willing Harper had this to say. “Canada remains alienated from its allies, shut out of the reconstruction process to some degree, unable to influence events. There is no upside to the position Canada took.” On Tuesday, Harper trumiphally announced that Canada is “back and no longer alienated from its coalition partner(s).” Harper vowed that so long as he was PM, Canada will have an “aggressive” foreign policy. That is to say as aggressive as the US wants him to be .

Conservatives Announce New Election Slogan and Unveil Accompanying Poster

The Buck Stops Here

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Globe and Mail's Conservative Stenographers

I hope The Conservatives are paying Bill Curry and Tenille Bongoguore well for writing the most recent Conservative press release.

Below part of Conservative new release and part of Curry and Bongoguore Conservative news release in Globe and Mail. Can you see the difference tone? I can’t see the difference tone? Maybe that is why the Conservatives have yet to issue a news release today. Curry and Tenille it seems already beat them to the punch.

“In a keynote address at the APEC Australia 2007 Business Summit today, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told more than 200 business and political leaders from 21 Asia-Pacific countries that Canada’s balanced approach to reversing global warming is a model for the next international protocol on climate change.

“The growing menace of climate change is one of the most important public policy challenges of our time,” Prime Minister Harper said. “For at least a decade most Governments, including Canada’s Government, paid lip service to the issue because they were unwilling to tell the public that reducing carbon emissions will have real economic costs. We need to take action. We owe it to future generations, just as we owe them a strong and secure economic future.”

The key to a practical, realistic and effective global action plan on climate change, Prime Minister Harper said, is striking a balance between sustainable economic growth and careful environmental stewardship. The new Canadian strategy involves regulating emissions for the first time while also investing in new clean energy technologies and establishing a carbon emissions trading market that will give business the incentive to run cleaner, greener operations.

Canada back in middle on world stage, Harper says

Mr. Harper laid out his government's approach to foreign policy in extensive detail Tuesday. Addressing the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Mr. Harper said he prefers taking concrete action as opposed to unsubstantiated rhetoric.

“Success requires middle powers who can step up to the plate to do their part,” Mr. Harper said, according to a written version of Tuesday's speech.

“Success demands governments who are willing to assume responsibilities, seek practical, do-able solutions to problems and who have a voice and influence in global affairs because they lead, not by lecturing, but by example.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks to the press in New York earlier this week. (Reuters)
PM addresses Council on Foreign Relations on Canada's role on the global stage
Prime Minister Stephen Harper pushed for a 'flexible, balanced' approach to global warming Monday. Mr. Harper said the United States can't go it alone in the world and needs other countries like Canada to do their part.

“Take Afghanistan as an example,” Mr. Harper said. “Canada did not hesitate, a little more than six years ago, when terrorists hit this great city and Washington, D.C.

“The United Nations Security Council authorized military action to remove the Taliban regime, and Canada was there, immediately.”

Liberal Blogs and the Next Election

By and large, the critics are right. Blogs are largely parasitic. The MSM writes the stories and the blogsephere critiques and fact checks them. The reasons are simple. Bloggers lack the connections, resources and training of professional reporters. More importantly reporters get paid for what they do and bloggers, with the exception, of a very select few are not able to make a living off what they have written. As a result, bloggers are not able to devote nearly as much time as reporters can and they are seldom able to go into the field and talk to sources. All that being said, what the blogsephere does, it does very well. There are many more bloggers than reporters and what an individual blogger can not accomplish is sure to be accomplished by the blogsephere as a whole.

You Tube and similar services threatens to turn this parasitic relationship during election time on its head. You see, storylines determine by and large what is and what is not newsworthy and this is especially so during the course of an election. News agencies send reporters to seek confirmation of an unstated narrative or to answer a question posed by the media. For example, following the Liberals January collapse in the polls the media sought confirmation of the Liberal collapse everywhere. Another example is the media attempted to answer this question: Can Stephen Harper, as the media very much expected, keep his MPs on message and from saying anything controversial? Where bloggers come in is that knowing the storylines ahead of times the blogging community can beat the MSM to the punch. This is not that difficult. Canada is a small media market and with the huge number of cutbacks at the major news organizations as well as the smaller ones there are not nearly enough reporters to attend every all candidate’s debate and campaign rally out there. There are, however, more than enough bloggers to document these events using nothing more than a digital camera. There is no reason why Rob Anders, Gallant and Day’s every move can not be captured forever. Just as importantly, the growth of online communities devoted to the various political parties promises solve another problem, viz., disseminating what has been documented. Prior to the growth of these interested communities, the problem was that not only did one have to document whatever it was one wanted documented one also had to get MSM to publicize the event in question and they were not always willing to do so. Such a problem happened to me during the last election. I was able to ascertain that the Conservative candidate in my riding had told a gym full of high school students that she “makes an effort to smile at brown people”. The media was notified, numerous witnesses made available including the teacher and principle, but the media failed to report. I needed the reputation of the MSM to move the story forward and so the story died there. Now, I do not mean to suggest that should something similar happen during the next campaign that the result would be different. My point is that if such an event were to be documented using some kind of video technology and placed in the right part of the web the size and readership of these online communities would force the MSM into picking the story up. The blogsephere could potentially cause them to loose control of storylines of their makings. For example, the media was well on its way to answering the aforementioned Stephen Harper question in the affirmative. However, had the blogsephere been able to substantiate some of the rumors to the contrary they would have been forced, like it or not, to go back on what they had written. Paul Wells notes the potential of such technology and communities. “YouTube destroyed a political career last autumn when the online video site became the place to see footage of the Virginia Republican senator George Allen tossing a bizarre insult -- "macaca" -- at a Democratic campaign worker of East Indian descent.” However, as Conservatives Rondo, “the fact’s don’t matter”, Thomas and Randy White can attest, the potential of such technology should have been apparent to Canadian politicians long before George Allen downfall.

Another way in which the Liberals can take advantage of the blogsephere is that they can use Lib blogs as a de facto secondary war room -- a poorer but not altogether insubstantial cousin. The Liberals lack the resources and the manpower to compete with the Conservatives during the next election. The blogsephere could help the Liberals narrow the gap. How? Well, they could do so in a rather straight forward manner. The party could use the blogsephere to help disseminate its message. This is good as far it goes, but there are other ways that hold more potential. For example, the party could take advantage of the creative potential of the blogsephere as a whole and develop talking points from chewed over ideas in the blogsephere. Failing that, the blogsephere as a whole can at times be quite the opposition researcher. Finally, bloggers can do and say things that political parties can not. This looks to be particularly relevant in any campaign were Afghanistan and Global warming are likely to take center stage. The Liberals are hamstrung by their own record, but liberal bloggers are free to run rough shod over Conservative talking points that might otherwise lead to questioning about the Liberal record if the same were to be said by the party.

In order for the party to effectively utilize the blogsephere, and Lib blogs in particular, the Liberals are going have go out of its way to draw attention to it and raise its profile. This can be accomplished in a number of different ways, but two come readily to mind. By leaking first to the blogs, a la Stephen Taylor, and later to the media the Liberals can draw media attention to the blogsephere and particular blogs. The same thing can be achieved by granting interviews to selected bloggers.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Conservative Green House Gas Intensity Plan: The Emperor has no Clothes

Companies will be required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 18 percent per unit of production over the next three years. Each year after that, industry will have to achieve a further two percent improvement in emission intensity.Thanks to these and other measures, Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions from all sources will begin to decline in absolute terms as early as 2010.Our plan will reduce Canada’s total emissions, relative to 2006 levels, 20 percent by 2020 and 60-70 percent by 2050, but note that basing early targets on emission intensity will allow us to square effective environmental action with the reality that Canada has a growing population and growing economic output.

Our plan will reduce Canada’s total emissions, relative to 2006 levels, 20 percent by 2020 and 60-70 percent by 2050, but note that basing early targets on emission intensity will allow us to square effective environmental action with the reality that Canada has a growing population and growing economic output.

GHG Intensity has been going down an average 2% a year since 1996. Meanwhile GHG emissions went up an average of 1.33% during that same time period. At that rate a 78% reduction in green house intensity would leave Canada in 2050 63.7% above what is it is in 2011!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

To the Media

You should note two things.

1) GHG Intensity has been going down an average of 2% a year since 1996 well all the while GHG emissions have gone up 25%. In other words, proposing that countries set intensity based intensity emission targets that they are bound to meet anyway and which will not only fail to reduce GHG emissions but allow them to continue to go up is not a model for anything. It is political cover for those wanting to nothing.

2) It was the Bush administration that first championed emission intensity "targets" and this was only later picked up by Harper. So do not let Harper pass off an old Republican idea as a new Conservative one. An old Bush talking point is not a “bridge” to Bush.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Policy Now

The Liberals do not have the luxury waiting until an election campaign to unveil new policy. They have to stop the bleeding and the only way of doing is come up with policies that will restore Canadians interest in the party. Besides, election campaigns are unpredictable and bold new policy is just as likely to get dismissed as an act of desperation (e.g., the Liberals proposal to ban hand guns) as it is to be celebrated. Two other points: 1) The blizzard of policy proposals unleashed by all parties becomes like white noise after a while. 2) some policies need time to mature. Such was the case with SSM. As I have said time and again, based on what the polls said the policy was clear looser. The country might have been spilt, but likely voters where not. The older one is the more likely one was to vote and to oppose SSM. The success of policy lay in the fact that pundits, academics and even bloggers ran rough shod over the Conservative position and Conservatives sustained a good deal of collateral damage. Intellectually, morally and legally bankrupt, the critics ground down the Conservative position to there was nothing left but stinking carcass of lies, obfuscations and bigotry.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dion's image problem is Really Just a Policy One.

"Dion admits he's had problems as leader, so he's promising to explain himself better, stop sounding like an academic and speak more from the heart."

They are going to Gore him. They have it all wrong. He should stop trying to “speak form the heart” and start sounding more like an academic. As for being able to explain himself, he would have a much easier time if the Liberal party developed coherent policies that flowed from a set of core principles and not from focus groups, polls and worst of all what Paul Martin did. If the Liberals take the time to develop a clear policy platform, Dion’s “image problem” will all but disappear.

In particular the Liberals need to lay out a substantive critique of the merits of the Afghan mission. Right now their demand that Canada end its combat mission in February 2009 is free floating. It needs to be tethered to a critique of the mission. Worse I am suspicious that the party is playing semantics and is willing to sanction a deal with the Conservatives that would see Canadian troops stay in Kandahar, but not in a non combat role, as if this is distinction with difference. The party should note that should it sanction a longer stay in Kandahar, in no matter what role, the party base will not forgive them.

Update: CTV was wrong; it one thing to challenge an image of oneself that is not accurate and it quite another vow to be more warm and fuzzy and less "academic". I still hold to thrust of what I said though. The main obstacle is not Dion's image, but a lack of policy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Gerard Kennedy on Politics with Don Newman

I watched Gerard Kennedy on Politics with Don Newman. today. The thrust of what Kennedy was saying was bang on, but he sounded a little harassed at times. Kennedy acknowledged that the party has not regained the trust of Quebecers, that the party has to under go a period of renewal and that much more than a fresh coat of paint is needed. Kennedy comments were in marked contrast to what Dion was saying in Crosby Ontario. Dion did acknowledge the results and took responsibility for them, but this was tempered by his frequently mentioning how “great” the Liberal Party is and how it will win the next election. Somber realism is much better sell than fake optimism.

As for the comments of former John Turner front man Ray Heard earlier in show, you can give them a miss. The comments of David Herle the day before were much more interesting. Speaking of the Tuesday show, Big City Lib and Red Tory were mentioned.

Maple Three Makes the News: Toronto Star

Toronto Star Susan Delacourt mentioned my blog yesterday.

“Criticism appeared to become more vocal after Dion appeared on CBC TV last week, in an interview with Peter Mansbridge, and failed to impress some Liberals.

"The more I see of him the more I fear the prospect of a (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper majority," a self-styled "progressive" named Koby posted on a Liberal blog called Maple Three. Around Ottawa, even Liberals who are supportive of Dion acknowledged it wasn't the leader's finest hour – he seemed ill at ease and ill-prepared.

The post in question is this one.

Liberals one Step Behind the Times

During the 2004 election campaign I told Don Bell, now the MP for North Vancouver, that I thought that Liberals had picked the wrong time to call an election. I told him that Martin should have waited until the fall and time the election to correspond with the US election. He agreed, but was less enthusiastic as to why I thought so. I thought the Liberal campaign should be centered around equating Bush and Harper.

Martin did end up running such a campaign, but he was an election too late. He ran the campaign he should have run in 2004 in 2006. However, by December 2006 the Bush Administration was damaged goods. Katrina had rendered the Bush administration ideologically impotent. The successful foreign policy critique of the White House, viz., that it was incompetent, become a successful global critique of the administration. Harper recognized the folly of getting to close to Bush and in a letter printed in the Washington Times denied the assertion of a Washington Times columnist that a Conservative government would be a de facto extension of the Republican Party. With no new policy initiatives that would show Bush and Harper to be of the same ideological ink, the Liberal campaign fell flat on its face. To make matters worse, the Liberals help neutralized the one issue that dogged Harper in the early parts of the campaign, viz., SSM, by promising to put a lock box around the notwithstanding clause. After that, the focus was no longer Harper’s legally morally and intellectual bankrupt stand on SSM, but was rather whether it was ever permissible to use the notwithstanding clause.

The Liberals seemed to have again missed the boat. The Liberals have yet to grasp in ways the other party’s have that the focus of Quebec politics has changed and that this requires that the party change accordingly. The Conservatives have successfully revived Mulroney’s soft separatism and Layton has realized that ideologically speaking Montreal is fertile territory. The Liberals have repeatedly failed to meet the NDP’s ideological challenge and have as of yet failed, although there are rumblings to the contrary, that they will seek to capitalize on the rest of the country’s distaste for Quebec pandering. In particular, Dion has yet to offer a substantive critique of the Afghan mission. Saying that he would end the combat mission in Afghanistan in February 2009 is not reason for ending the mission.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Conservatives on the Verge of a Majority

I will repeat what I said before the by-elections. "The Conservatives are poised to pick up a lot of seats in Quebec meaning they will only have to pick up a few more suburban seats in BC and Ontario to win a small majority."

Liberal Party: The Party Canada Forgot

The days of pumping out middle of the road, offend no one, please no one, interest no one, policies that are utterly incoherent at their core because they are designed to appeal to both sides of any political divide must come to end.

The Liberals are not going to build a grass roots movement unless they are willing to step on some toes and offend different groups, especially social conservatives, from time to time. They are not going to attract anyone by trying to be all things to all people. Canadians feel no loyalty to the party and quite frankly the Liberals bore most of them silly. This is a party without imagination, conviction or courage. Unwilling to consider talking points yet alone policy not yet sanctioned by focus groups or pollsters, it has become the de facto party of the status quo. Yesterday mores and yesterdays values are today’s Liberal policy.

The Liberals must seek out controversy rather than run from it. They must do more than just broach issues (e.g., poverty); they must propose readily understandable policies that cut to heart of various hot button issues and they can not wait for an election to do so. They must trot out these policies as soon as possible. They can not afford to slave away in obscurity while the Conservatives dominant the headlines. They can not afford to be merely reactive. They must seize the initiative.

The following are just the kind of policies that will put the Party back on the map.

1) Propose mandating 4 weeks vacation a year

2) Propose including dental care as part of health air

3) Propose Legalizing euthanasia

4) Propose Legalizing marijuana

Friday, September 14, 2007

Time to press the panic Button

The Liberal Party is so positively timid it drives me to distraction. The Party brass is delusional if they think they can go into the next election armed with little more than the idiotic Atlantic Accord, anger over income trusts, a mixed Afghan and environmental record and rhetoric about poverty and the economy. If that is what they choose to fight on, then Harper will end up with a majority. On that note, far too many Liberal bloggers have convinced themselves that things are really not that bad. They are that bad. The Conservatives are poised to pick up a lot of seats in Quebec meaning they will only have to pick up a few more suburban seats in BC and Ontario to win a small majority.

The party must embrace universality and controversy, least the Canadian public become so bored and disenchanted with them that the forget the party altogether.

Dion's CBC Interview: Thoughts

Dion was on the CBC tonight. The more I see of him the more I fear the prospect of a Harper majority. His English has improved, but not nearly enough. His choice of idioms is still not good, his accent is still thick, and the language barrier greatly impairs his ability to articulate his thoughts. His vocabulary, for example, is not what one would expect from someone holding a PHD.

Dion, as Andrew Coyne rightly said, in the At Issue panel that followed, has an aura of authenticity about him and he comes off as a pleasant individual. That said, the Liberals are not going to win a campaign on the strength of Dion’s personality. He is not a good retail politician. He is not Bob Rae. He looked lost trying to come up with a pleasing job interview type reason for why his personal popularity numbers are so pathetically low, especially in Quebec. He fumbled the first part of answer before recovering to say that this is problem shared by many new opposition leaders. I thought the question unfair, by the way. Besides, it was going to yield an insightful response.

His answer to Mansbridge’s question about why he had not been to Afghanistan yet was worse. It was quite simply feeble. Dion answer in a nut shell was that he has been busy. I was hopping that he would undercut Mansbridge’s dubious assumption that only those having gone to Afghanistan are fully qualified to pass judgment on the issue. Dion should have shot back that spending tens of thousands of dollars to stage a photo op in Afghanistan hardly qualifies as field research. Such staged visits certainly have not helped Rumsfeld, Bush or Cheney understand the Iraq War any better. The same goes Harper and Afghanistan.

Mansbridge later raised the issue of whether Dion has been over managed and mentioned Dion has complained as much. The panelists agreed and delighted in Mansbridge’s Paul Martin analogy. Mansbridge said that towards the end of his term as PM Paul Martin frequently looked as if the was not quite there and that the answers he gave seemed to be not his own but taken from a script. The bit about Martin was funny and I certainly agree, but Al Gore is far better example. The scripted focused group Gore was insultingly inauthentic. Al Gore is much more likeable when he is playing himself. It is height of irony that such a horrible actor should reach personal popularity heights by being featured in a movie. I am not sure Dion is the second coming of Gore, but he is a hell of lot more compelling personality bare knuckle fighting with separatists then he is pretending to be just a guy you would hopefully want to have a beer with and shoot the shit.

There was no major disagreements about where Dion is and where he should go amongst the panelists. All came to same conclusions. The Liberals are not ready for an election and it was foolish of Dion to suggest that he would bring the government down over the Throne Speech. Dion has come up with clear policies if the Liberals are to have any chance. Opposing everything the Conservatives do, whether it be supporting ridiculous stupid equalization formulas such as the Atlantic Accord, or expressing their desire to revisit the income trust thing, is getting the Liberals nowhere.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hats off to Harper for voting against UN Idiocy

Canada, US, New Zealand and Australia voting against the following UN motion:

"Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired."

Good for them.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Liberals Need to Rediscover Universality

The Liberals need to rediscover universality. Under Mulroney and Chr├ętien universality died as Stephen Harper duly and happily noted in 1994.
"Universality has been severely reduced: it is virtually dead as a concept in most areas of public policy…These achievements are due in part to the Reform Party.”

Under Martin the Liberals did rediscover universality again – well sort of. They promised to implement a “universal” early childhood education program that would in drips in drabs grow bigger over literally decades with no time line as to when the program would become truly universal. The more the Liberals talked up the need for more child care the more inadequate and lackluster their proposal appeared. Needless to say, piece meal universality is no universality at all and if the Liberals want to capture the imagination of Canadians by promising a universal program they better make sure that they are able to deliver and all at once.
One issue worth exploring is expanding the Canada health care to include dental care. As business picks up most of the dental tab already, the idea of offloading the costs of dental to the public sector will have its supporters even on the corporate right. The coporate tax rates will have to be raised slightly to pay for it, but these increases will be more than offset by what they are currently paying out in terms of employee dental care as it stands.

Another thing the Liberals can do is steal a page from the rest of the Western world minus the US and give Canadians more vacation time. Virtually ever other industrialized gives its citizens at least 4 weeks: Canadians deserve no less.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Conservatives are better Political Tacticians than the Liberals

As Red Tory has effectively demonstrated, the veil issue has everything to do with perceived shortcomings in recent legislation and nothing to do with Elections Canada. For example: Still the Conservatives have rightly sensed what the public feels should be the case. In so doing, they have struck another preemptive blow against Elections Canada. This proves once again that Stephan Harper and PMO are masterful political tacticians.

This is marked contrast to Dion. Whether it be the Doan Affair, or his decision to announce the deal with Green Party days after 6 Canadian soldiers were killed in Afghanistan, Dion has proved time again that he has a tin ear for politics. The only consolation for Liberals is that Martin was even worse. Whether it be David Dingwall or BMD, Martin had the unique ability of being able to make an innocent man look guilty and to turn a popular decision into a politically costly one. Lastly who could forget one of biggest political blunders in Canadian political history, viz., the Gomery Inquiry?

If the Liberals are going to win the next election, they are going to have drop Stephen Harper as Mr. Muzzle talking point. Harper’s Achilles Heal is his own caucus. The Conservatives are not blessed with a lot of front line talent. Rob Nicholson is no Irwin Colter. Jim Flaherty is no Paul Martin, John Manley or Ralph Goodale. Peter McKay is no John Graham, or Lloyd Axworthy. Rona Ambrose is no Stephane Dion. Moreover, the Conservative caucus still has plenty of nuts. By painting Harper as one man government and other Conservatives as muzzled and unreliable, the Liberals are inadvertently insolating Harper against the very thing that could most derail Conservative messaging, viz., the ranting of loons or the sure incompetence of his ministers. Moreover, this has over the years allowed the press to paint Harper as a moderate who has successfully beaten down the hard edge elements of the party. The Liberals are going to have to find a way of painting Conservative caucus as being an extension of Harper and not separate from him. Controversial statements should not be painted as missteps but as trail balloons.

More importantly, the Liberals are going to have to prove themselves to be better strategists than the PMO tacticians. This means more than anything else they are going to have to introduce a series of hot button issues that will result in sustained public debate. The Conservatives might score a few tactical victories, they are after all so much more skillful than the Liberals in that regard, but over the long whole superficial talking points stand little chance of standing up to a waves of public scrutiny. Truth almost always wins a war of attrition. This also means shifting the focus away from their incoherent Afghanistan policy and talking points and onto substantive criticisms of the Afghan mission. Whenever the Conservatives claim progress the Liberals must flood the public domain with facts and figures that paint a less rosy picture. Rhetoric must be met with cold hard fact.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Intensity Based Emissions and Globe and Mail's Gloria Galloway

Globe and Mail reporter Gloria Galloway wrote the following. In so doing, she might as well have written the Conservative press release.

“Leaders of Pacific Rim countries reached a draft agreement on climate change Saturday, a move Prime Minister Stephen Harper described in advance of its announcement as a "big, big step" toward reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
The agreement, which does not bind countries to meeting firm goals, sketches out a blueprint for improving energy use "to slow, stop and then reverse" climate change. It was reached after big polluters, including China, signed on to the Australian-led initiative. Canada and Japan were credited with pushing the negotiations toward a successful conclusion.”

No where did she mention that the intensity of emissions has been going down an average of 2% a year since 1996 well all the while GHG emissions have gone up 25%.

Just as bad, she let Harper pass himself as some kind statesman. Getting countries to agree to a voluntary reduction in intensity targets, they are almost certain to make anyway, is not only not much of accomplishment it helps set Canada up as the ideological mouth piece of those committed to doing nothing about global warming. If successful, this can only erode our international standing and not help it.

Lastly Galloway lets Harper pass off an old Republican idea as a new Conservative one. It was the Bush administration that first championed emission intensity "targets" and this was only later picked up by Harper. However, such is the pitiful state of the Canadian media that Harper is able to again pass off an old Bush talking point as a “bridge” to Bush. The media dully recorded the Conservative message and disseminated it to an unwitting Canadian public who expect and deserve far better from papers, such as, the Globe and Mail.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Liberals have a choice: Either change the Channel in Quebec or Loose

The Liberals have a choice. Either they can attempt to change the channel in Quebec, or they can continue with business as usual and go down to defeat there. Going Conservative Lite will not work. Dion’s reputation as an arch federalist speaks against it as does the fact that Conservative do asymmetrical federalism far better than the Liberals and they did it first under Mulroney meaning the Liberals came off looking like a bunch of Johnny come latelys on Martin. The Liberals must shift the entire focus away from federal provincial relations. Afghanistan and the environment are a start, but the Liberal’s track record hammers them on both files. Moreover, the fact that the Liberals Afghanistan position is not grounded in a coherent critique of the mission’s merits or lack there of hurts the Liberals immeasurably.

My position is clear. As Quebec is the most socially liberal Province and Montreal arguably its most the socially liberal city, the Liberals should seek to become the champion of social liberalism. The more controversial and headline grabbing the issue the better. Indeed, given the fact that the Liberals have virtually no chance outside of Montreal (Hull being a notable exception), this option is particularly attractive. I would like to hear some other opinions.