Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Today's Word is "Inaction Action"

Stephen Harper has learned the hard way that when you promise to do things, people get upset when you don't actually do them. I can understand Harper's naivete on this - after all, Canadians kept re-electing the Liberals for 13 years despite breaking promises at the rate Michael Phelps breaks world records. But the missing 5th priority upset pundits. The income trust flip flop upset rich seniors (who, you know, vote). And the "fixed election date (unless I want an election)" law has shown that a promise that sounds good one day can become a bit of a drag the next.

One way to circumvent this is to adopt the John Baird strategy of making promises no one can accuse you of breaking for 42 years. However, looking at the Liberals these days, 42 years of Tory government doesn't seem wholly impossible so Harper has had to find a new strategy.

Hence, what I like to call, "Inaction Action".

The first example of this strategy occurred last winter when Jack Layton looked at all that was wrong with Canada and found his issue - ATM fees! Enter Jim Flaherty and his "sure, I'll talk about this with the banks" response. Notice no firm promise that anything would actually change. No bold claim that he'd end the era of bickering between banks and their customers. Nope, simply a promise of action, without actually having to do anything or get any results. So, the fact that I still pay ATM fees doesn't mean Jim broke his promise - after all, he did talk to the banks. Maybe his "talk" was just Jim sipping martinis with them and making fun of the mustached socialist but it's still "promise made, promise kept".

No doubt buoyed by this, when Flaherty noticed that Canadians (and by "Canadians" I mean "Whitby-Oshawa residents") didn't really like paying $1.50 a litre for gas, was his response to revert to an old 2004 promise to actually lower gas prices? Nope. Instead, he promised to "look for ways to cut prices". Will Jim find something on this scavenger hunt? Likely not, but at
least Flaherty is showing inaction action on the issue by "looking".

It's become almost predictable. So, when Telus and Bell announced they would be charging for incoming text messages this spring, you could see how the whole thing would wind up unfolding:

Step 1: Jack Layton is outraged!

Step 2: Jim Prentice demands explanation

Step 3: Explanation is given to Jim. Jim nods approvingly.

Step 4: Telus and Bell go ahead with plan to raise fees for incoming texts

Ta Da!


So good on the Tories for moving past that silly phase they when were a new party and felt compelled to make real promises and deliver on them. Instead, I look forward to even more listening, talking, demanding explanations, exploring, looking, contemplating, considering, inquiring, sabre rattling, investigating (but not formal investigations - they've learned their lesson), meeting with, questioning, and studying.

I for one welcome this new era of inaction action!

22 Comments:

  • CG: Yup, Harper and crew haven't addressed ATM fees and the text message grab and these are just two of many reasons why working Canadians who are feeling the pinch should support the NDP. (for more info on the many other policies of the NDP go to www.ndp.ca)

    And you are absolutely right that the Liberals broke too many promises to count over the 13 years they were in power.

    But you forget that thanks to the inaction action of the Dion Liberals the Harper government was able to pass a lot of legislation that really upsets Canadians who are concerned about maintaining Canadian values. Let's start with the abstentions on the immigration changes. The abstentions that allowed massive corporate tax cuts and tax gimmicks instead of investment in things like green affordable housing. Or how about the support for the extension of the Afghan mission? Over 40 votes that the Dion and his caucus wimped out on and let down progressive Canadians.

    So why are you supporting these guys? Didn't do what they promised to do when in government and can't effectively oppose when in opposition.

    By Blogger jaybird, at 10:48 AM  

  • Yup, the NDP is a great opposition party.

    But that's all they'll ever be.

    By Anonymous CW, at 11:56 AM  

  • Jaybird: The real question is why you are supporting the NDP. It was Layton who couldn't wait to have an election who supported Harper to bring down the Martin government and effectively killed the work that the Liberal government and the provinces were doing on early childhood education and the provision of daycare and the Kelowna accord. The fact is that what Canadians got from 13 years of Liberal government was good management of the country's financial affairs to the point where some serious work could be done on child care and redressing some serious issues on First Nations lands. The Liberals also maintained a strong federal presence throughout Canada something that Harper is slowly eroding. The fact that Liberals have not voted to bring down the Harper government demonstrates their understanding of the political realities, which the NDP simply do not. Don't get into a fight when you can't win and the guys who are slowly dismantling Canada would win. I suppose that the NDP would rather have another Harper government so that in four years we will have 13 mostly autonomous entities held together in a loose association. If you want the legislation that you mentioned, that was passed during the last six months repealed, something the Liberals have said they would do if elected, then vote Liberal. As much as NDPers can dream about forming a government, they won't. Their numbers just aren't there. So if you love Canada and want to stop the damage vote Liberal.

    By Anonymous Tony, at 12:08 PM  

  • Sure, if you vote for Layton's Dippers, you're effectively voting for Deceivin' Stephen's CONS.

    Why do Dippers (and CONS) have such difficulty with reality???

    -----------------------------------

    Disappointed By Layton, Former MPP Likes `Pretty Solid' Dion

    The NDP is becoming a "non sequitur" federally.

    Layton: "He's sort of in bed with Harper half the time, and only interested in his own advancement."

    The Toronto Star
    Susan Delacourt
    Ottawa Bureau

    Jul 12, 2008 04:30 AM (EDIT)

    OTTAWA-Reid Scott, a former judge, Toronto city councillor and one of the first people in Canada to be elected under the NDP banner, is abandoning his six-decade long attachment to the party and joining the federal Liberals.

    Impressed by Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion's carbon tax plan and disaffected by Jack Layton's leadership of the NDP, Scott sent a letter this week to the federal Liberals, saying he would like to take out a membership.

    "He's got great integrity and courage," Scott said. "I spent 20 years on the bench and I can tell a genuine person from a phony and I think Dion is basically pretty solid."


    Now, he thinks the NDP is becoming a "non sequitur" federally. He confesses he doesn't understand what Layton is doing.

    "I've sort of given up on them. I think Layton is not the leader I expected ... He's no Tommy Douglas. He's sort of in bed with Harper half the time, and only interested in his own advancement."

    By Anonymous Robert Gibbs, at 12:14 PM  

  • IT For Income Trusts
    --------------------

    Remember, Remember
    The 1st Of November
    The Conservative's Income Trust Treason And Plot

    I Know Of No Reason
    Why The Income Trust Treason
    Should Ever Be Forgot

    By Anonymous Robert Gibbs, at 12:17 PM  

  • New Harper Party Advertisement

    "Hey Canada, I'm Stevie Harper and I'm a celebrity too. I want Canada to know that I'm, like, totally ready to MIS-lead."

    (With apologies to Paris Hilton)

    By Anonymous Robert Gibbs, at 12:20 PM  

  • Folks: a little history lesson. All that end of term progressive legislation was tabled when Martin knew there would be an election. Why? Not because the NDP and other parties voted them out of office but because Martin promised to call an election 30 days after the Gomery report was released.

    http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2005/04/21/pmmartin-speech050421.html

    In a rare address over the nation's airwaves Thursday, Prime Minister Paul Martin promised to call an election within 30 days of an inquiry report into the sponsorship scandal.
    In a seven-minute speech delivered in English, as well as a nine-minute version in French, Martin pleaded with Canadians to reserve judgment on his government until all the facts are known about the scandal.

    So - Kelowna, national child care, etc. would NEVER have gotten through 1, 2 3 readings and the senate before the election that MARTIN promised. These 'bills' were yet another faint to try and win over undecided progressive voters.

    The vote that brought the then Lib government down came a mere couple of weeks before it would have been called regardless. Assuming of course that Martin would have kept the promise he made to the nation during a special prime time broadcast.

    By Blogger jaybird, at 1:20 PM  

  • Jaybird how can u have ANY credibility when you write blatant lies.

    The child care funding was put in the budget long before the Gomery inquiry revelations came to light. Remember the NDP voted AGAINST that budget. Doesn't change the fact that Martin proposed a child care plan. When the budget was amended to meet the NDP demands (and get their support for the final readings), none of the child care components changed so your argument doesn't hold water that it was only proposed because he knew there would be an election. Not to mention the agreements were made with all 10 provinces and the funding arragements DID receive royal assent.

    The money for Kelowna was booked and if you've followed Martin's actions on Aboroginals (even now), not even Layton doubts he would have implemented it.

    Another Jaybird lie: "The vote that brought the then Lib government down came a mere couple of weeks before it would have been called regardless" The government fell in November, Martin promised to call an election within 30 days of the final Gomery Report (which came Feb. 2nd I believe). So that's 3-4 months difference, not a couple weeks. Again if you want to be credible, at least get elementary facts right. A lot of legislation could have passed between Nov. and March that would never see the light of day under a Conservative government.

    Facts are facts Jaybird Jack Layton could point to several accomplishmennts in actual legislation (not private members bills the govt ignores) when the Liberals were in power. Name me ONE accomplishment with 2.5 years of Harper government. The NDP need a minority Liberal governnment to have anything progressive get done.

    By Anonymous Mike, at 3:16 PM  

  • "Stephen Harper has learned the hard way that when you promise to do things, people get upset when you don't actually do them."

    Well that explains why Steffi is such a cold fish to Canadians. How many empty threats to bring down Harper's government does it take to prove he's as hollow as a drum ?

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 4:49 PM  

  • Outstanding post, fantastic.

    While I'm satisfied with the Harper government, I'm certainly not doing cartwheels - they should be working harder, especially in a minority situation.

    I don't have a cell, and I can tell this Bell/Telus fee grab is stupid, and it's bad for Canada.

    Message to Harper - landlines are so 1972, cellphones are the future, and Canadians should have better access to cells than fees on texting and outrageous Rogers overpricing on iPhones if Canada is to be an integral part of the future.

    I though conservatives were about competition in the market place, not organized price gouging.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 5:56 PM  

  • I'm of a similar mindset to the prior poster.

    I'm satisfied, but not ecstatic with the Feds. For me, the text-messaging is small potatoes.

    What still grills me is the trust taxation. Particularly because they campaigned to do one thing (not double-tax them), and did exactly the opposite. And they had the gall to do this without presenting evidence that there was tax leakage. What was eventually released - under FOIP - was blacked out. Finally, their "solution" was to tax publicly traded trusts. If you have enough money, or operate a pension fund, you can buy these businesses and pay no tax (so long as they remain private). All you have hurt are the retirees looking for cashflow. Politically, it was incredibly stupid. But I think they are oblivious to the damage they did to a segment of their voter base.

    That said, it will not change anything. Dion won't offer to repeal the trust tax now that it is this far along... to his electoral detriment, IMO. He's got his Green Shift pony to ride. Good luck with that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:42 PM  

  • Politically, it was incredibly stupid. But I think they are oblivious to the damage they did to a segment of their voter base.

    I think the Tories are fairly, to some degree, a bit tone-deaf politically. Harper's a very capable manager and a decent leader, the CPC should be slaying the Dion Liberals right now, but they're not. (Well, what do polls mean anyway, right?)

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 7:10 PM  

  • This kind of post is why I love reading this blog.

    I do think that the Conservatives started out with a reasonably impressive government. I'd also like to think that, if Dion becomes PM soon, he'll be fairly active, at least until he's done implementing the Green Shift. After that, who knows?

    By Blogger - K, at 1:40 AM  

  • BTW, one caveat:

    fixed election date (unless I want an election) law

    I don't feel minority gov'ts (of any stripe) need to be held to fixed election dates.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 10:48 AM  

  • There's no way that Harper is going to stand in the way of a corporation doing whatever it pleases. Anybody who believes otherwise isn't paying attention.

    (And as for jaybird: Layton's trying to kill the Liberals and doesn't care what the Tories do in the meantime. Whether that strategy is a good long-term one or not is a good question. Just don't lie about it.)

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 12:54 PM  

  • "Why not interesting?"

    It's not interesting to me because sexual orientation doesn't matter. It's about the ability to perform the job.

    So, why is it interesting to you, Jason?

    By Blogger JimTan, at 1:35 PM  

  • I just think gay people don't belong in sports, really. Especially representing Canada.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 2:33 PM  

  • "I just think gay people don't belong in sports, really. Especially representing Canada."

    Oh! So you want to strip citizenship from the gays. What country should they represent? The Nation of Gays? Let's call them NOGs!

    Are you afraid that Canada's mediocre performance is caused by the NOGs?

    By Blogger JimTan, at 7:06 PM  

  • I don't think they should be stripped of citizenship, I just don't think that gay people really represent the true Canada, and that our Olympics officials can do better.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 7:30 PM  

  • Bwuh?

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 11:03 PM  

  • “I just don't think that gay people really represent the true Canada”

    Well! Gay people are a small minority. However, it is a Canadian value not to discriminate on the basis of gender, race, religion etc. It is stripping them of their citizenship rights if gays are not allowed to represent Canada.

    If you like, I'll explain the difference between a liberal, a conservative and an extremist.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 1:53 AM  

  • Well, let's just aim to abort them all before they become citizens, in that case. Easy peasy, no muss no fuss!

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 9:02 AM  

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