Kyoto Accord: The Conservatives announced that the targets set under the Kyoto protocol are unattainable. The opposition parties disagree and there will be a lot of righteous indignation heard from them over this. The thing is, though, the targets are unattainable. Canada is not going to meet the 2012 Kyoto targets without buying emission credits and this just will not sell domestically. That is just the half off it. So long as Kyoto is the focus, the question will arise as to why Canada is not going to meet its targets and this will allow the Conservatives to offer up Liberal inaction as the reason why. There is no use going to war over something that is glaring false and the Liberals would do well to move on. Indeed, what the Liberals need to do is to focus the debate on how the various parties plan to reduce carbon emissions going forward. The Liberals have a plan, the semblance of a plan anyway, and the Conservatives have potential political piñata known as intensity based emissions. Call into question the effectiveness of the Conservative plan and then sit back and watch as environmentalists, academics, pundits and yes bloggers break it into a million pieces. Under intense scrutiny, I give such a plan no more than month and half, maybe two. As for the other parties, the Bloc’s reason for being means it is no position to offer up a plan and the NDP poise no realistic challenge to the Conservatives. Whether they have a good plan or not is moot. The NDP will not win the next election. The underlying message is thus this. Only the Liberals are both able and willing to tackle global warming and the Liberals will be in a position to commit Canada to the second round of Kyoto talks.
Early childhood education: The problem with the Liberals early childhood education was that it was not universal. As a result, the more the Liberals talked up the need for such a program the more inadequate and lackluster their proposal appeared and the attractive the Conservatives universal baby bonus became. Indeed many voters hedged their bets. They figured that a $1200 bird in their hand was better than 15% chance of nailing two in the bush. If the Liberals want to capture the imagination of Canadians by again promising an national early childhood education program they better make sure that they are able to deliver universal program and that they are able to deliver and all at once.
Afghanistan: Until recently the Liberals did not even have any decent Afghan talking points. The childish and silly “its their turn” has at long last morphed into something much more weighty. It has become the following: If other NATO countries are unwilling to share the economic, political, and military costs of deploying in the South, the mission is doomed. Either way, Canada will abandon its military mission in the South under a Liberal government in 2009. Either because someone else has assumed the burden or no one has and the mission is doomed to fail. However the policy is yet to catch up to their talking points. Liberals are still hedging their bets and have yet to commit to pulling Canadian troops out of Kandahar province by 2009. The party is playing semantics and seems 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. Such a policy might not have immediate short term implications, but the party should note that should it sanction a longer stay in Kandahar, no matter what role, the party base, especially what is left of it in Quebec, will never forgive them.
Kelowna Accord: I do not have anything positive to say about the Kelowna Accord. It is just more money thrown after bad. The root cause of native poverty is not a lack of government money, but can rather be sourced back to the emphasis placed on communal property to exclusion of private property and manner by which government monies are distributed by the bands. That said, the fact that Kelowna Accord does nothing to address the underlying causes of Native poverty does not mean that Native poverty is any the less real and any effort to fight poverty, however superficially, is usually welcomed by the public. Furthermore, there is political payoff to pursuing a policy that has been agreed upon by all the principle players.
“Deep” Corporate Tax Cuts: A small reduction, such as the one the Conservatives are suggesting, will do just fine thank you very much. The Canadian corporate earnings are higher than anywhere else in the industrialized world and cost of doing business in Canada is cheaper than in Britain, the US, Italy, Germany, Japan, France. The promise of corporate tax cuts is nothing new for the Liberals. Beginning in 2000 the Liberals cut the corporate tax rate by 8%. That said, the optics of such a cut look better in 2007 than they did in 2005 for two reasons. One, the dollar is real concern and two the Liberals have rolled out much more effective talking points this time around. Indeed, Dion all but short circuited Layton's most likely line of attack.
"Some will say that a cut in corporate taxes is a right wing policy. I’m sure my friend Jack Layton will say this. But to believe this is to believe that Sweden, with its low corporate tax rate, is the hot bed of neo-conservatism while the United States, with its very high corporate tax rate, is a socialist paradise – or to quote Stephen Harper when he described Canada – “a second tier socialistic country”. A low corporate tax rate is not a right wing policy or a left wing policy. It is a sound policy."
All and all, should the Liberals force an election anytime they would not exactly be playing with the strongest hand, both from a policy perspective and from political perspective.