Just this afternoon, myself and several other liberal bloggers (we are all hosted at www.liblogs.ca) from across the country had an interesting and interactive experience with Stephane Dion. Bloggers submitted questions before hand, and then Dion himself answered them on a conference call. Subjects discussed ranged from election strategy, to the upcoming by-elections, what the Liberals would do in government, and of course, the Green Shift. My personal question was:
"I come from the western suburbs of the GTA. Over the last few election cycles, it has voted Liberal, although the Conservatives historically have done well, and even as it has voted Liberal, a strong undercurrent of small c, fiscal conservatism has remained, and it is an area the Tories will need to win seats in if they want a majority. My question is that do you feel that with the Green Shift, a risk exists of the tax break aspects of the plan, which would appeal to these voters, being overshadowed by the carbon tax idea and the environmental measures of the plan, which small c-conservative suburban voters are more wary of."
Mr. Dion saw the question as basically if the Conservatives propaganda regarding the Green Shift will work or not; if the alarmism and negativity of the Tories work, the plan will fail, but if the Liberals stay on message, and stay positive, they will win. I found this an interesting piece of metathink by Dion. I only thought about it in the sense of worrying that the party itself was presenting the plan with too little emphasis on the tax breaks associated with it, not about WHY the tax break elements could be overlooked. When I asked Gerard Kennedy (check my earlier post, I blogged about it) basically the same question, Kennedy gave me the answer that on tax issues, and more broadly, on economic issues, the Liberals couldn't match the Conservatives, as an election about the economy would both play to the perceived strength of the Conservatives, and that the Liberals would be unwilling to make dramatic (and economically damaging) tax cuts. Kennedy's answer kind of left a bad taste in my mouth, as it seemed that the Liberals would be giving up the economy file during the election. I appreciated Dion's answer of having the Green Shift at the centre of the Liberal platform, while staying on message and ensuring the election is fought over the environment so that Tory attacks on the economy and "leadership" are ineffective. Overall, I think the conference call was a great success, and look forward to participating in more to come.