Michael Ignatieff underestimates the memory of Western Canadians
During a current swing through Western Canada, Liberal leader has some sincere words for western Canadians.
We fucked up! Sorry!
"God knows this party has made mistakes out in Western Canada and I know them," Ignatieff admitted during a speech in Regina. "We have to be honest enough with our neighbours and citizens to say 'We didn't always get it right. We didn't always listen with respect. We didn't always understand what had to be done.'"
There are numerous examples of the Liberal party's careless approach to western Canada. Pierre Trudeau's National Energy Program is merely the foremost among them.
It's likely in this vein that the Liberal party was utterly foolish to come west and try to peddle what essentially amounted to NEP II -- Stephane Dion's proposed Green Shift program.
Except that Stephane Dion's Green Shift was actually Michael Ignatieff's Green Shift -- and he seems to expect that western Canadians are somehow going to forget.
Canadians -- and, especially, western Canadians -- will remember that a carbon tax was central to Dion's Green Shift. The problem for Ignatieff was that he proposed the carbon tax first and probably even pushed Dion behind the scenes to implement it as part of the Liberal party's platform.
Ignatieff at least seems to understand the utter folly of trying to run on something like a Carbon tax in Western Canada.
"The dumbest thing you can do is run against Western Canada," Ignatieff noted. "The dumbest thing you can do is run against the energy sectors in Western Canada."
The Green Shift policy, regardless of any corporate or personal tax reductions, would have reaked havoc on the energy industry, resulting in higher energy prices for every Canadian.
Western Canadians, being not nearly as naive or foolish as the average Liberal party strategist has always imagined them to be, knew this. Even the calls for a softening of the policy by western Liberal candidates like David Orchard went largely unheeded, and the Green Shift led to a decisive Liberal defeat in the west.
"The retail politics of this were pretty tough for us," he mused. Yet Ignatieff wants to continue his dabbling in energy policy.
"We want to bring energy policy and environmental policy together around a simple goal, which is to make Canada the most efficient user of energy and the most efficient developer of sustainable energy on the planet," he said. "When we elaborate those policies in detail, I think it'll be a vote winner out west."
This is a fine idea. But Ignatieff has proven adept at bungling energy policy so badly as to have his ideas absolutely clobbered in the realm of retail politics.
Ignatieff thought he had a winner before. He and his party insisted that the tax would be revenue neutral (despite the fact that there really is no such thing as a revenue neutral tax).
Regardless of whatever Michael Ignatieff may think, western Canadians don't have a short memory. When he comes back to Western Canada to address the issue of energy policy, he'd better have something a far sight better than NEP III.
Otherwise, Ignatieff will join Trudeau and Dion amongst the Liberal leaders who fucked up in regards to Western Canada.
Other bloggers writing on this topic:
Far and Wide - "Busy Guy"
Kristian Klima - "Conquering West or conquering rural Canada?"