Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ask and ye shall receive

Since everyone has been clamouring for Ignatieff to let Canadians know a bit more about his vision for the country, it's great to see him giving speeches like this.

Here are the Coles Notes:

Champion Canadian business and technology
• Improve upon Canada’s 13 out of 30 ranking in research and development by driving strategic investment to job-creating innovation throughout the economy, including clean energy, high-tech, advanced manufacturing, health sciences, forestry and farming.
• Support manufacturing research and commercialization to help businesses get new technologies to the factory floor and bring new products to market
• Investing in clean energy research and renewables to become the most efficient users of energy in the world
• Stand up for flagship Canadian companies, technology and jobs with an investment review process that guarantees our national interests

Invest in people and communities in every region
• Increase the gas transfer to flow money directly to municipalities, relieving pressure on property taxes, and enabling cities and towns to invest in transit and water systems
• Support the success of rural, remote and northern communities by completing Canada’s broadband network and building roads and bridges
• Create incentives for small and medium businesses to hire and train workers

Open new international markets
• Re-establish Team Canada missions to India and to China to reverse our shrinking exports to these growing markets
• Enhance the commitment to the Atlantic and Pacific trade gateways and key border crossings to improve our export performance
• Provide federal leadership to engage the United States at all levels to bring down non-tariff barriers such as Country of Origin Labelling that are costing Canadian beef and pork producers their livelihoods


  • But, but, but...it's not detailed. There aren't any exhaustive examinations of past and current conditions, replete with statistics and summary graphics. There also aren't any concrete objectives (with requisite metrics to gauge progress), which, as we all know, once established, reliably predict the future, and thus, scientifically give us so much confidence in our political choices that we shouldn't even have to make any.

    Ergo, Ignatieff has failed.

    By Blogger Ti-Guy, at 11:46 AM  

  • Good luck changing the american's mind about COOL. Obama is not going to help because he needs those Senatorial votes to get US Medicare passed. Same as for Buy America, but give it a whirl anyway!

    Improve Gateway? You mean that all that infrastructure (increased size of Port of Prince Rupurt, improving the Kicking Horse pass, Centre Port in Winnipeg and the Gobal Transportation Hub in Regina is just window dressing? What about the Calgary By-Pass and the work being done in the Fraser Valley to eliminate bottlenecks for the transport of goods?

    Glad to know that Iggy is on the ball.

    By Anonymous Don M, at 1:44 PM  

  • It isn't so much the details, Ti-Guy, actually it is unclear that many of these things are different from what the current administration is doing.

    It is an outright lie that exports to China and India are shrinking. Under Harper they have grown at the exact same 10-12%/annum despite the recession.

    It is also unclear to me that a foreign investment review is any less a "poke in China eye" than mentioning - once - a wrongfully imprisoned Canadian.

    More money for research is nice, but it sounds like Ignatieff's approach is in many respects like that of the Conservatives - geared more towards industry-oriented research than academic R&D.

    About the only contentious issue is the talk about direct support for flagship companies, which sounds a lot like corporate welfare to me (to be fair, the Tories did bail out the big 3). Even there, Ignatieff will have to be careful. Past efforts - such as Canada's support for Bombardier - were ruled illegal by the WTO. In other words, Ignatieff's aim of expanding trade conflicts with his industrial policy aims.

    There is also an obvious conflict in Ignatieff's talk of both greening industry, while also supporting manufacturing. Canada's five most important industries in terms of economic impact are all big polluters - automobiles, aerospace, oil & gas, mining and lumber/pulp & paper. If the effort is going to be at the level of producing clean energy, that is indeed nice, but it is also an area of provincial, not federal responsibility.

    Moreover, I don't think it is too much to ask what he means by support. Direct financial support? Corporate tax cuts? Moral support? R&D tax credits?

    Ignatieff is not primarily communicating a set of policies, he is communicating a set of preferences. Where he does mention policies, they are things the government is already doing, like building infrastructure and improving worker training programs. I mean do you really think that our Albertan Prime Minister would avoid getting rid of foreign Country of Origin labeling laws if that was attainable?

    I hate to sing a song from the NDP playbook, but I've got to say it. Liberal, Tory, same old story.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 3:23 PM  

  • Thank you for illustrating my point about hyper-rationality so ably, HosertoHoosier.

    Next time, I want sources and a spreadsheet.

    By Blogger Ti-Guy, at 3:55 PM  

  • Ti-Guy: "Next time, I want sources and a spreadsheet"

    But if Iggy pulled out sources and spreadsheets he'd be slammed for being too professorial, elitist, snobbish, out of touch with the public, etc, etc.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:21 PM  

  • 1. I often do have sources and employ spreadsheets in my posts. For the China claim, look at industry Canada's TDO database. Even this year, despite the recession, exports to China are up 6% between January and July.

    2. I like out of touch elitist leaders.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 5:08 PM  

  • For the China claim, look at industry Canada's TDO database. Even this year, despite the recession, exports to China are up 6% between January and July.

    How's the balance of trade between Canada and China/India trending? Maybe that's what Ignatieff is really talking about.

    By Blogger Ti-Guy, at 5:36 PM  

  • It's nice, but how does it distinguish him from anyone else? Every party agrees on these.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 6:17 PM  

  • I just have to write this, Jay Hill MP for London Ontario is the biggest douchebag in the world. I get sent this crappy flyer ever single week for like the last year. It says nothing except has a picture of stephen harper and some conservative propaganda crap with no substance or anything. Its all vague and is rediculous. Jay Hill could at least send something of substance, stop wasting your time and trees you loser. If you don't stop I'm setting up a website, going to post all your flyers there so everyone can see how much of a douche Jay Hill MP for London is I'm going to SEO the hell out of it and your gonna be screwed, Stop your crap Jay Hill MP of London Ontario.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:32 PM  

  • Isn't Jay Hill from Prince George? Could there be another crappy MP with the same crappy name as Jay Hill?

    By Blogger rockfish, at 3:03 AM  

  • "How's the balance of trade between Canada and China/India trending? Maybe that's what Ignatieff is really talking about."

    The balance of trade is irrelevant. Firstly, you would expect that any country will have trade deficits with some of its trading partners and trade surpluses with others. This is particularly the case when China is a poor country that can't buy our consumer goods, while we can buy their cheap manufactured goods.

    More importantly though, the trade deficit simply doesn't matter. It is largely the result of a rising Canadian dollar, it is only problematic if it reaches something like a few % of GDP, and even then it is essentially self-correcting. Sustained, large trade deficits will likely lead to a drop in the Canadian dollar which will eliminate the trade deficit.

    Oh and if Michael Ignatieff does believe that the trade deficit with China is a bad thing, and that Chretien/Martin's stewardship is some sort of gold standard perhaps he might reconsider. Canada's trade deficit with China in 1993 was 1.4 billion dollars. In 2006 it was 26 billion dollars. So even if your inane argument is correct, then it is the Liberals who by far have the worst record on that front - an 1857% increase in the trade deficit with China.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 10:54 AM  

  • I do enjoy watching you try and fail constantly to frame your pro-Conservative partisanship in terms of irrefutable logic and reason with consistently overlong hyper-rationalist expositions chock-a-block with assertions that, if I were bloody-minded, would insist be better sourced before I bothered to take them seriously...which I did above and am now regretting, since this is all really about a minor point in a speech by a politician who is not in power. Although, I should remark once more that you continue to illustrate what I wrote in my first comment rather vividly.

    You do realise you're just showing off and that you don't really expect to persuade anyone (other than fellow poli-sci grad students), right?

    By Blogger Ti-Guy, at 1:14 PM  

  • How is this a minor point? Ignatieff framed his foreign policy speech around Harper's inability to reach out to China and India. His speech made it sound like Canada was losing out on the economic lodestone of the next century. It is a point which has been reiterated by many people both before and after the speech. When Chretien addressed the Liberal convention he chose to highlight that issue in particular as a weakness of Harper.

    How is it irrelevant that Harper's record on that one issue is, in fact, excellent?

    How am I being "hyper-rational" in explaining what the balance of trade means?

    Why is it partisan to point out that, contrary to the main thrust of Ignatieff's speech, you cannot have it both ways. Building a green Canada is in conflict with supporting our flagship industries. Conducting foreign investment reviews is in conflict with improving trade relations with other countries. You can't be against the deficit, but for the stimulus that caused the deficit.

    I am perfectly willing to point out sins of that type when they are done by the other side. Harper flip-flopped on income trusts; has had umpteen green plans; attacked a coalition he once tried to form; was the point man against distinct society who enacted the "Quebec as a nation" motion; he opposes gay marriage, but only when he knows he will lose the vote; I am pretty sure his "reduce hospital waiting times" promise didn't happen; avoided appointing senators till it looked like he might lose power; supports fixed election dates, except when they might imperil his majority government; pushed through one of the largest stimulus packages in the western world in spite of his MA thesis (fiscal policy doesn't work) and his promises not to run a deficit; and soon proposes to raise payroll taxes, in spite of his strong opposition to tax hikes.

    Like Ignatieff Harper is an inconsistent ditherer. He tries to be a soft nationalist decentralizer and an all-Canadian Quebec-basher at the same time. He has made a point of criticizing human rights abuses and such abroad (Iran, China and Hezbollah), but not bothered to repatriate Canadians who may face abuses (at least by Canadian standards) themselves.

    Harper's reputation as a "strong leader"/inflexible ideologue/you know what he stands for kinda guy is more a function of his meanness than his policies (actually the Liberal negative ads have probably reinforced this about him).

    Ignatieff is fast demonstrating that he is no different from Harper on that score.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 3:43 PM  

  • Except that Harper's been the PM for the past four years and has a documented record as a politician going back decades. Ignatieff has no record as a politician, so at best, what we have now are just statements of intentions.

    That aside, I don't support a political party solely on the basis of its leader It's far more complicated than that and rests on expectations of a competent cabinet and a Parliament that works.

    By Blogger Ti-Guy, at 10:12 PM  

  • (when my responses are too long for blogger I should probably take a hint. Nonetheless, I consider writing long stream-of-consciousness posts fun)

    Firstly you mention the fact that Harper has been in power for four years as a reason not to compare Ignatieff and Harper. I agree - government involves changing situations and forces people to flip-flop and dither etc. That Ignatieff has been able to cultivate a reputation as a ditherer in just a few months as Liberal leader is an exemplary accomplishment in the history of a country that is known for fence-sitting proclivities.

    More to the point, yes, the leader isn't everything. There is the Liberal bench strength.

    It includes (I am going through the practically guaranteed cabinet spots here) Ontario's worst premier (if you consider Chretien an economic mastermind and Mike Harris a dunderhead you are reaching heroic levels of doublethink), the brother of Ontario's second-crappiest premier, BC's worst premier (okay okay, the guy left holding the bag after BC's worst or second worst premier - can't forget Vander Zalm), Ontario's former dropout education minister, a prettyboy neophyte school-teacher who is inherited a cabinet spot, a many-chinned Cauchon-hating "cochon" who could give Poilievre a run for his money on partisanship, somebody whose Hindi-to-English translation for nanny looked something like "slave", a political neophyte astronaut primodonna, somebody who likes informing "u" about upcoming finance department decisions (who was for privatized sidewalks before he was against them), and a hockey goalie so boring he managed to not win Liberal leadership in the most hockey-obsessed country in the world. And I haven't gotten into the real dregs like Hedy Fry and Joe Volpe.

    There are a few men of substance in the Liberal party - John McCallum, Ralph Goodale and Dominic LeBlanc come to mind. Stephane Dion qualifies too, but apparently he is not what the party is looking for. Irwin Cotler appears to be on the outs as well.
    As Liberal cabinets go, this is one of the least experienced and least successful in all of history.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 12:27 AM  

  • Part 2...

    The Conservatives have their flaws, but they are not as pinched for bench strength as Stock Day would have been.

    Yes, Peter Mackay is a political lightweight; Bev Oda sucked; Gerry Ritz is as bad a minister as he is a comedian; Rona Ambrose is not ready for prime time; Maxime Bernier has other interests than governing; Denis Paradis could be best described as "some French guy"; Tony Clement never seems to DO anything unless naked men are involved; Jim Flaherty delivers budget projections more times than Bernier "debriefs", Gary Goodyear could use a little evolution, and Lawrence Cannon is so confused not even his hair and eyebrows can agree on a colour.

    Jim Prentice did a good job and appears to have been sent to the environment to scuttle his leadership ambitions; you may not like John Baird but people aren't talking about the environment as much as they used to (and it started before the recession); Lisa Raitt ably survived her political crisis and has excellent credentials; Tory election returns suggest that Jason Kenney did an excellent job; Bob Nicholson has led the charge on the government's popular law and order agenda; Blackburn has at least avoided screwing up (a big win for the Tory Quebec caucus); Chuck Strahl is a man of incredible integrity and grit; as is Peter Kent.

    I think James Moore, Gail Shea and Leona Aglakkaq. Diane Ablonczy has been criminally under-used by Harper. In the new crop of Tories there were a number of other interesting additions - folks with graduate degrees and meaningful experience in business and government.

    These aren't Myron Thompson Conseratives. These aren't Alan MacEachan Liberals, either. These are two teams that include a few principled and competent people, a grab-bag of power-hungry has-beens and token regional representatives. They are led by two leaders who offer no policy distinctions and no new ideas. Yet, despite it all, despite the rhetoric, and despite my cynicism, each will usually dither in the right direction once in office. Moreover, they will definitely dither in the same direction, because they are both shilling for the same swing voters in the 905. If you want my advice on how to vote, Ti-Guy (and A. you don't, and B. your mind is made up already), flip a coin.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 12:27 AM  

  • Nonetheless, I consider writing long stream-of-consciousness posts fun.

    It's usually an indication of an unorganised mind, the inability to focus and an indifference to, if not contempt for, one's audience.

    I'm sure you have interesting things to say, but you don't seem to understand that this medium is dialogue not monologue.

    By Blogger Ti-Guy, at 10:11 AM  

  • Is it? I post more to organize and clarify my thoughts (and to push myself to vindicate or vanquish opinions that are held on a non-factual basis) than to preach to people that are generally already convinced of their own brilliance.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 10:54 AM  

  • Is it?

    It is.

    By Blogger Ti-Guy, at 7:35 PM  

  • Often we forget the little guy, the SMB, in our discussions of the comings and goings of the Internet marketing industry. Sure there are times like this when a report surfaces talking about their issues and concerns but, for the most part, we like to talk about big brands and how they do the Internet marketing thing well or not so well.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:44 AM  

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