Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lacking distinction

I noted yesterday that both Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff appear to have gone out of their way to emphasize bipartisanship in their meeting with Barack Obama. But let's look in a bit more detail at what Ignatieff had to say, and what it may say about the likelihood of the Libs reversing their current lack of effective opposition in the future:
Mr. Ignatieff spent a lot of time talking about the importance of bipartisanship in Canada on foreign policy and how they had made the decision to back the government on the deployment after the Manley Commission, and that they saw this as not a partisan issue; it was more important to get the country together on issues like the budget and on Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that this was a commitment that they were sharing across the parties, and that they wanted to work together with the United States.
Now, the first obvious point is that in emphasizing "bipartisanship", Ignatieff looks to have cut off a substantial portion of Canada's political spectrum for the purposes of his own analysis. In the U.S., the term can relatively plausibly be seen as encompassing the field of political debate (give or take a Bernie Sanders). But it would seem to me a clear misstatement to suggest that two-party agreement in Canada can be equated with the same type of across-the-spectrum consensus-building which would be associated with the term in the U.S. - much as Ignatieff and Harper may both wish it were so.

But then, it's true that a Con/Lib team effort can functionally impose its will on the country. And that's where it's interesting to note how Ignatieff described his party's actions and positions to Obama.

I've pointed out before that Harper's ability to strongarm the Libs into the most recent Afghanistan extension should be seen as a cautionary tale in which the Libs traded their support for nothing of substance. But apparently Ignatieff's view is just the opposite, as he both actively trumpeted the previous vote, and appears to see the issue as one where the importance of keeping the unwashed masses in line outweighs the need to actually act as an opposition party.

Perhaps even more significantly, Ignatieff appears to have looked at the budget vote as a similar type of result: rather than describing any need to put Harper on probation, he apparently described the Libs' support for the Cons' budget as being based on a similar desire to "get the country together" behind Harper's preferred course of action.

Of course, that runs contrary to the Libs' public message at home, which has involved putting as brave a face as they can muster on their lack of sufficient backbone to topple the Harper government. Which means that it's worth asking just who Ignatieff is trying to kid: Obama, the Canadian public, or maybe both.

Moreover, to the extent Ignatieff has signaled a continued intention to place bipartisanship and elite consensus at the top of his priority list, it's hard to see how he could justify taking any more of a stand in the future - meaning that we're all the more likely to be in for another series of Lib capitulations on the confidence votes they've put in place.

In sum, rather than using his time with Obama to lay the groundwork for any future improvement on Harper's vision of Canada/U.S. relations, Ignatieff has instead done little but to highlight the similarities between himself and Deceivin' Stephen. And Ignatieff's choice of message about himself and his party to our most important international partner should serve as a warning signal to voters at home.

Update: Impolitical challenges a few of the points made above. My quick responses:
- On the question of where the term "bipartisan" comes from, there would be a more plausible case to suggest it might be a matter of Obama's handlers' interpretation if it was a single reference rather than something which Ignatieff is described as spending "a lot of time" discussing. And it's hard to see what the term or anything like it could be referring to other than the Con/Lib team effort, since on both issues mentioned the NDP and the Bloc disagreed with the outcome.
- As for the rest of the post, Impolitical seems to nicely describe the Libs' current framing: that under Ignatieff they're basically just like the Cons, only with a less toxic leader, a bit more seriousness and a bit less tolerance for Bushco's worst abuses. It'll be for Canada's voters to decide whether that's what they're after, or whether they prefer a genuine change in outlook - but from my standpoint at least the Cons' actions in office cry out for far more change than that.

On selloffs

Shorter National Post editorial board:

Huzzah! We'll face much less resistance to Stephen Harper's fondest wish of selling out any Canadian independence now that the buyer is more popular!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Musical Interlude

Let's stay political for this weekend with some underappreciated Canadiana: King Cobb Steelie's "Rational".

On abolition

Shorter Harper Senate appointee Stephen Greene:

We'd get along much better with everybody if we could govern without having to answer inconvenient questions.


Barack Obama's revelation about the problem with fetishizing bipartisanship:
White House aides say they have concluded that Obama too frequently lost control of the debate and his own image during the stimulus battle. By this reckoning, the story became too much about failed efforts at bipartisanship and Washington deal-making, and not enough about the president’s public salesmanship...

Reflecting as “somebody who has been in this town,” he observed that “there’s an insatiable appetite for the notion of bipartisanship here and we allowed that to get ahead of ourselves.”

But Emanuel said that they recognized they had overdone their initial outreach to Republicans and had offered "a sharp message for the last week."
Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff, as observed by Barack Obama and his advisers yesterday:
There was a further discussion (between Obama and Harper) about Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Prime Minister talked about how they had developed this bipartisan approach to their own deployment through the Manley Commission, which had developed a road map for the Canadian involvement and led to the Canadian decision to deploy the troops until 2011.
Mr. Ignatieff spent a lot of time talking about the importance of bipartisanship in Canada on foreign policy and how they had made the decision to back the government on the deployment after the Manley Commission, and that they saw this as not a partisan issue; it was more important to get the country together on issues like the budget and on Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that this was a commitment that they were sharing across the parties, and that they wanted to work together with the United States.
And to conclude, John Cole, just in case anybody has missed it elsewhere:
I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane. Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years.

On transference

Not surprisingly, the news that the Cons stopped Afghan detainee transfers in the spring of 2007 was thoroughly buried under yesterday's Obamathon. But there's plenty in the story which deserves to be unpacked over the next few weeks.

After all, there's a direct conflict between the Cons' official position and the testimony of the responsible military police. And if it weren't enough that the Cons are accusing the troops on the ground of making up stories, they're also preventing any public access to the documents which would provide evidence as to who's right:
In the witness interviews, Canadian military police who were stationed in Kandahar at the time and were guarding the detainees estimated that the halt occurred in late April during the political furor in Ottawa that took place after The Globe and Mail published detailed accounts of torture and abuse in Afghan prisons.

Day after day in the House of Commons, Mr. Harper and his ministers faced a barrage of demands that detainee transfers be stopped until better safeguards could be put in place.

“Allegations to the effect that we are not living up to our responsibilities are only being made by the Taliban,” Mr. Harper said on April 24, 2007, in an exchange with NDP Leader Jack Layton, who had demanded that “the Prime Minister put an end to this farce; stop the transfers.”

The government denies that the halt was linked to allegations of torture and insists that the military police were wrong in recalling that it came before a new agreement governing detainee transfers was put in place on May 3. In written answers, cleared by senior Canadian Forces officers and the Prime Minister's Office, to questions from The Globe and Mail, the Harper government insists on a different version of events. It says the halt came after the signing of the tougher transfer agreement.

The dates are crucial. “We were ordered not to actually do any transfers because we were waiting for the new agreement,” said Major Bernie Hudson, who commanded the Canadian military police contingent in Kandahar in the spring of 2007. He recalled at least one detainee who “was caught in sort of a loop and we ended up keeping him about xxx.” The length of time is blacked out...

The government declines to give dates for the halt and resumption of transfers, just as it declines to provide any numbers for captured, released or transferred detainees.
Now, it's worth noting that the Cons had to be dragged kicking and screaming into admitting that any halt in transfers ever took place later on. And the one in question was never known after the fact. So there's little if any reason to put any stock into the official position on the latest revelations.

But even by the Cons' low standards, the change in government spin since the first revelation of a transfer halt bears pointing out. At that time, the Cons' excuse for not making matters public was that the issue was dealt with at the military level - supposedly making it one which the Harper government wouldn't even have known at the time, and at the very least making it inappropriate to comment from a political perspective.

Given that the Cons originally tried to wriggle out of responsibility by placing all decisions and knowledge about detainee transfers at the feet of the military police involved, it takes a truly stunning amount of gall for them to now claim to know better than those same military police just what happened and when. And the fact that the Cons are taking that position should signal that however much change may have come to the U.S., we're in for more of the same from Harper and company.

In, Out and Around

Radio Free Collingwood points out the first public signs that the Cons may have replicated their 2006 campaign finance manipulations in 2008:
While anxiously awaiting the posting of Helena Guergis’ campaign expenses (just to see if the cost of her four-page newsletter is definitely there), Radio Free Collingwood has been perusing the expenses of other Conservative candidates.

And what are we finding? More of those $15,000 transfers to the Conservative Fund of Canada. While not all of the candidates are posted, thus far there are about 20 Conservative campaigns that made the transfer; for the most part, the expense is listed as a ‘election survey’, though some did list it as ‘miscellaneous’.
As RFC notes, there doesn't seem to be an obvious accompanying transfer from the Cons' central fund to the same candidates in question as there was in 2006. But it'll be worth following up to see if the Cons merely added a couple of diversionary steps to make their actions more difficult to track.

On a quick look at the returns mentioned by RFC, each of the candidate returns does seem to show multiple sizable transfers from the riding associations to the candidates. And if the Cons simply modified their 2006 scheme to remove the obvious number matches and to add transfers to the riding associations into the process, then they may soon find themselves dealing with the fallout from two campaigns worth of charges.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


On the same day that Barack Obama made his visit to Ottawa (which has of course been documented plenty of other places), another bright young politician also introduced himself and his message of a new kind of politics to a receptive capital city. And there doesn't seem to be any lack of deliberate effort to play up some interesting parallels to Obama:
(Ryan) Meili refused to take shots at his opponents on Thursday, indicative of a “new kind of politics” he said he wants.

“I’m not that concerned with my opponents,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for each and every one of them. This is about ideas, not about cutting down anybody else who’s running.”
Of course, Obama's emergence involved a remarkable convergence of factors - more than a few of which won't figure to be in play in Saskatchewan's leadership race even if Meili can generate a similarly positive impression as a candidate. But the Obama model still looks to be the best-documented recent path to victory for a relative unknown facing the resources of a prohibitive favourite. Which means that it makes sense for Meili's campaign to be following it to the letter so far.

Left on the vine

Alice at the Pundits' Guide makes an interesting discovery about the federal leaders' riding expenses from the 2008 election:
The surprise for me was Green Party Leader Elizabeth May's return, inasmuch as ... for all the effort that was reportedly going in to getting her a seat in the Commons ... her campaign spent only 69% of the limit, in spite of having $80K (nearly the full amount of the spending limit) transferred to the campaign by the central party office, and of raising more than the other 3 party leaders during the campaign itself. Doing a quick eyeball comparison of her return to Layton's and Duceppe's, her campaign reported significantly less on salary costs than the other two. Her campaign account wound up with a considerable surplus, which will have to be transferred either to the Central Nova Green Party riding association or to the central party...
Now, there may be a few possible theories as to why May might have spent significantly less than the limit.

Remember during the campaign that the Libs mooted the possibility of cancelling some of their planned national ad buys as a "save the furniture" move if the campaign wasn't going their way. It would seem entirely possible that May's riding campaign may have done effectively the same thing on a riding level if they figured that the seat was likely out of reach anyway. (Though it's worth noting that the same incentives which would have made that decision questionable for the Libs would seem even stronger for a party pushing to win an all-important first elected seat in the House of Commons.)

Alternatively, it could be that May's campaign didn't focus on finding a way of making use of anything close to the maximum amount. That could be generously explained in part as a matter of her having enough volunteer support or central staff at her disposal to reduce the riding's staffing costs compared to those of most other leaders. But it's hard to see how an extra $25,000 couldn't have been of at least some use - which would suggest at least some failure in May's planning for the riding.

Meanwhile, it may bear watching what gets done with the surplus which the Greens managed to amass for May's riding campaign. If May is focused on taking another shot at Central Nova, then it would make sense for the money to stay within the riding. But if she plans to take another crack at any remotely promising by-elections or run elsewhere in the next election, then the funds would figure to go to the Greens' central office to support that effort and/or pay down general campaign debt. Which means that how the Central Nova surplus is handled may offer a strong hint as to the next step in the Greens' continued attempts to win a seat in the House of Commons.

Update: One more note which I forgot to mention earlier: note that even while she spent the least money overall among the party leaders, May nonetheless ended up spending the most per vote received. Which would appear to be another nail in the coffin of the theory that the Greens are particularly efficient in their electoral return on investment.

Continued obstruction

In advance of Barack Obama's visit, the Cons have now telegraphed their latest plan to put off any action on greenhouse gas emissions:
Canadian officials, speaking on condition they not be named, said the leaders are expected to agree to explore ways for the two countries to co-operate on the environment and energy, but cautioned that there will be no detailed agreement so soon.

One source said the Prime Minister and the President may end up agreeing to send the issues to a pair of working groups and have them report back after six or nine months.
So after three years of claiming to have already taken action - and half a year after the Cons were supposed to have presented emission reduction regulations - Deceivin' Stephen is looking to start again from square one. And there's an added bonus for the denialists in the latest strategy: this time when the Cons fail to deliver on what they've promised, it would delay the U.S.' planned actions as well as our own.

Needless to say, there's no reason for Obama to accept the Cons' excuses and delay tactics. And with the Libs still showing no signs of recognizing the problems with continued Harper government, the best hope for Canadian progress against climate change may be for Obama to make environmental measures a condition of economic cooperation.

The reviews are in

The National Post editorial board remarkably takes both the Cons and Libs to task for their plan to pass Deficit Jim's budget without the slightest review of some of the included changes:
Once Ottawa gets over the cheap thrills provided by the Barack Obama visit, maybe somebody in town could get back to some real work, such as raising a little hell over the Harper government's 547-page budget gorilla. Bill C-10, a sweeping omnibus package, represents one of the greatest legislative railroad jobs in recent history...

(W)hether any of the changes are necessary or desirable, is beside the point. The fact is we will never know until it's too late, since Bill C-10 is subject to a confidence vote. As things now stand, the budget bill will get two days of cursory committee review next week, before it rolls down the track for instant ratification, with hardly a word of the massive text coming under review. Most of the words, in any case, are unreadable and incomprehensible without a team of lawyers.

So much for Stephen Harper's enthusiasm for greater democratic scrutiny and MP responsibility. So much, too, for Michael Ignatieff's highly publicized bid to force the government to submit the Harper fiscal stimulus regime to periodic review. The Liberals are willing to waste time in mock sword fights over macroeconomic mumbo-jumbo, but will spend no time on the substance of a budget bill that contains major changes to the corporate and financial legal system.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Buy Canadian is the end of the world! It's an affront to all that is good and Free Market Holy! It's...

...current federal policy in the shipbuilding sector!
In an e-mail, Mr. MacKay's office said that any shipbuilding projects to stimulate the economy were already announced in the Canada First defence strategy a year ago. "The government believes that the Buy Canada Policy will return enormous economic benefits," spokesman Jay Paxton said. That policy, which requires federal vessels be built in Canada, has been in place under Liberal and Tory governments.
Mind you, the shipbuilding example isn't exactly an example of a successful policy when the Cons aren't following through on their promised spending in the sector. But that's more a symptom of the Cons' continued inability to find their own ass with a map and a flashlight than an indictment of the concept of making sure that purchasing by the federal government benefits Canadian industry.

Introducing the Harper Institute for Spreading Wingnuttia

Embassy reports on an interview with Steven Fletcher on the Harper government's plans to "spread democracy" around the world. But there's plenty of reason for concern as to just what kind of "democracy" the Cons plan to spread:
What exactly have you been doing on democratic governance and where do you see this issue and the non-partisan centre going over the next little while?

"In our platform, we made the promotion of bringing democratic values on the world one of the major focuses of our foreign policy. And this will be a new agency, non-partisan agency that will promote democracy abroad in emerging democracies to help build the institutions that make democracy function. This will be an agency that will work throughout the world and will ensure, or help ensure, that there will be healthy democracies amongst long-term stable growth that respects human rights right across the board....

"We need to help countries build the fundamentals of democracy, which include functioning political parties that are purpose driven and principled. We want to make sure that the other pillars that are important for democracy, such as human rights, freedom of the media, that there's significant civic participation from all quarters of a particular society, that women's voices are heard where that's not at the level we would like. And obviously free and safe elections."

Will your work be focused specifically on political parties or on some of the other traditional activities that CIDA has done, such as working with bureaucracies?

"We will be working with all stakeholders that are important in any functioning democracy. So that includes, first of all, the people, and helping grassroots organizations get organized into a party structure. We want to make sure that the institutions that make democracy possible are there, everything from a free media to the union movement, and everything in between. But it will be, our goal will be to develop or help develop principle-driven parties so that the people of these countries have a clear choice when it comes to advancing their country's goals and objectives."
Since Iraq, some have seen democracy promotion as a tainted idea, something that serves ulterior motives. How do you counter those arguments that, first of all, Canada shouldn't be working with political parties? And how do you respond to people who look upon it as a neo-Imperialist idea?

"(P)eople who say what you just described, what is their alternative? And I think the alternative to democracy is not consistent with Canadian values and we are the Canadian government. And it will be a made-in-Canada agency to promote Canadian values."
Have you spoken to the opposition parties as you're moving ahead on this?

"It will happen. I am relying on the Foreign Affairs and International Development [committee] report that came out in the last Parliament, and I certainly have a good sense of where parties are based on that....

"When things settle down on that front and we get the economic stimulus package through Parliament, I think that would be an opportune time to re-engage other parties."
Now, it's true that the idea of the centre arises out of a committee report with multi-party input. But the idea seems to have taken a few serious turns for the worse in the meantime.

After all, the idea of a "non-partisan" agency might seem entirely positive on its face. But it's rather less so when that term is now being defined by a party which has tried to claim non-partisanship in, say, appointing one of its key fund-raisers as the gatekeeper for federal civil service positions.

That goes doubly when the project is otherwise dripping with Con code words. We know all too well that "made in Canada" as applied by the Harper government on issues like climate change has tended to mean "sticking a finger in the eye of international consensus". (On that front, it surely can't be reassuring that Fletcher doesn't seem to think there are any lessons to be drawn from Bushco's mess in Iraq.)

And it's not hard to see obvious potential for abuse in the Cons' determinations as to what constitutes a "principle-driven party" which operates consistently with their definition of "Canadian values".

Of course, all of those concerns might be alleviated if the structure was actually being developed in a non-partisan or multi-partisan manner. But when the Cons have unilaterally decided that they don't need to consult with anybody else in setting up the agency, it seems far too likely that the result will be to favour the development of Con-friendly parties abroad rather than to actually promote democracy. And that doesn't figure to be a positive development either for the countries affected, or for Canada's position in the world.

Open secrets

The Cons are obviously still in the habit of operating as a Potemkin government. But at least one pollster has determined that Canadians at large would prefer to see what's behind the facade rather than taking the Harper government's self-serving PR as fact:
President Barack Obama's pledge to run accountable, transparent government clearly appeals to Canadians: Three-quarters of us want to pry open our federal government to more public scrutiny.

And the appetite for open government is consistent across the country, a Leger Marketing poll for Sun Media shows.

"In general, people don't want a government that's secretive or hiding behind the doors," said Leger vice-president Dave Scholz...

According to the Leger poll, 76% think our federal government should "open operations to public scrutiny." Just 12% think the government is already open enough and only 3% think it should spend money as it sees fit, without transparency.

The thirst for openness was high across all regions, Scholz said.

"Finally, we found something the Canadian population can all agree on."
Of course, there's a fairly glaring exception to that near-unanimity among those who currently have the ability to keep the Harper government's actions hidden away. But when the need for greater openness is apparently recognized by Canadians of all regions and political stripes, there's an obvious opportunity to turn the broad consensus into a widespread demand for more open government which any party would ignore only at its peril.

What Boris said

Yes, reality is beginning to set in as to just what Michael Ignatieff actually accomplished by choosing to support the Harper government. Go read.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Deep thought

I'm sure the Cons' concerted efforts to keep any Canadian other than Stephen Harper from being videotaped with Barack Obama on his visit are all part of their plan for a more cooperative Ottawa.

Behind the curve

The Hill Times reports on the Libs' plan to buy voter-targeting software. But perhaps the most interesting part of the story is the fact that the Libs haven't done so already when considering how the price compares to other party expenses:
Jan Kestle, president of Environics Analytics, a company that provides voter-targeting services in Canada, said the cost of these type of systems can vary greatly depending on the scope and level of complexity and the amount of data inputted into the software.

"You might be able to buy just the software for $20,000, but what you need is a custom implementation of it with data and if you're counting the data charges it depends on which data you purchase to go with it. We have databases that focus just on demographics, others that focus on social values, others that focus on media behaviours, and depending on which of those you add you can get up into the $200,000 range, or you can do something for $50,000. If you buy a whole bunch of extra lists data, it could be even more than $200,000," Ms. Kestle said.
Now, those numbers might sound fairly large on their face, particularly for a party which has had to cut back in other areas due to its declining share of the popular vote.

But remember that the Libs would spent roughly $20 million on the 2008 federal election campaign - and in turn roughly half of that amount have been allocated to advertising. In that context, it seems shocking that they wouldn't yet have put a minimal investment into voter targeting which could help to better focus how the rest of their money is spent. And the longer the Libs wait to get even a basic targeting program in place, the more likely they are to keep sliding in their relative position.


Shorter Jason Kenney:

In the interest of fostering tolerance and respect, we hereby declare anybody within two degrees of separation of a Muslim to be persona non grata.

Not a Uniter

I'm not sure how many progressive Libs are still holding out hope that Michael Ignatieff will ever reflect their views. But Ignatieff himself is making it clear that left-of-centre Canadians aren't going to be a priority for his party:
As for where he can draw voter support in the Conservative stronghold of Saskatchewan, Ignatieff said he's not a "unite the left guy," but he does want to pull votes from both sides.

"The Liberal party is a party of the centre. Part of my difficulty with a coalition is that I felt it would take my party off the centre," said Ignatieff.
Of course, it's far from clear why forming a coalition government would necessarily affect the Libs' internal ideological dynamics. Which would tend to signal that the latter comment is just another bad excuse for Ignatieff's choice to keep propping up the Cons.

But the more important message is that Ignatieff has now made it a matter of public record that he'd rather lead a Con-lite party than a united left out of fear of what the DFHs might do under his tent. And anybody looking to advance progressive causes in Canada who hasn't taken Ignatieff's earlier hints should see this as the strongest signal yet that it's time to move on from the Libs.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Incredible threats

Shorter Michael Ignatieff:

Granted, my party has given Stephen Harper a free pass for the last year and a half of misleadership. But surely we can still be taken seriously in claiming once again that we won't tolerate more of the same.

Can we get that in writing?

With the CRTC set to decide on the future of internet regulation in Canada, Rogers and other ISPs are looking to avoid paying into a fund to support the generation of Canadian content. But their explanation for doing so doesn't exactly fit with their past practice:
Broadcasters and cable companies - again, to no one's surprise - oppose any form of regulation.

Cable companies argue it would be illegal to make the Internet service arms of their companies pay for content - and they have official legal opinions that say so.

"We're a dumb pipe," says Ken Engelhart, senior vice-president of regulatory for Rogers Corp. "We don't know what you're downloading . . . so how can we be responsible for the content?"
Now, Englehart's assertion looks downright laughable given Rogers' history of content throttling or traffic shaping. But can we all agree that it would be a reasonable outcome if Rogers and other ISPs avoid any new levies in exchange for their binding agreement to act as "dumb pipes" rather than controlling what content is available to Canadian users?

Not yet forgotten

Tom Zytaruk weighs in on the Con/Lib Cadscam secrecy pact. And perhaps not surprisingly, he's less than pleased with both of the parties involved:
Tom Zytaruk, author of the book that prompted sensational Liberal allegations of bribery against Prime Minister Stephen Harper and subsequently the Prime Minister's unprecedented $3.5-million defamation lawsuit against the Grits, says it's a "distasteful concept" that the Conservatives and the Liberals have now agreed to never disclose details of the settlement after Mr. Harper suddenly dropped his lawsuit earlier this month.

"A lot of Canadians would disagree with that, that everything should be tidily forgotten about," Mr. Zytaruk told The Hill Times last week. "The whole concept of two political parties just deciding that this isn't up for discussion anymore is kind of a distasteful concept."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Deep thought

A political leader taking the radical step of wooing a particular region of the country is far more newsworthy than mere talk about policy.

Nothing doing

Remember back when Jim Prentice's installation as environment minister was supposed to serve as an indication that the Cons were taking the file at least somewhat more seriously? Because Prentice apparently doesn't.

Here's Prentice with the Cons' latest attempt to weasel their way out of doing anything about climate change:
(A)s Ottawa prepares to welcome Mr. Obama on his first presidential visit, Mr. Prentice maintains the two countries share a common approach.

Both countries seek to balance economic growth with environmental progress, he said. As well, both countries favour longer time periods for greenhouse gas reduction and the inclusion of all emitting countries in any global agreement.

Finally, Canada and the U.S. will both rely heavily on technological solutions.

“If you look at the principles that President Obama has put forward ... they are virtually identical to the principles that we have spoken about as Canadians,” said Mr. Prentice...

“It's in everyone's interests that as this thing unfolds, we end up with a system that isn't broken up into a series of sub-national approaches. In the interests of what we need to do as a society in terms of investments and technological change, it's important that we have a national approach.”

However, any common policy on the environment or climate change is a long way off, said Mr. Prentice.

“It's early days yet.”
So, to sum up Prentice's message...

Despite all appearances to the contrary, Prentice is keeping up the fiction that the Cons' no-cap, no-regulation, no-effective funding non-solution is exactly the same as Obama's plan to set up real caps with associated regulations and investments.

But just to make sure that Canada doesn't take a single step beyond what the Obama administration insists on, the Cons plan to keep doing nothing until they actually get pushed into a bilateral deal.

And that in turn serves as an excuse for Prentice to complain about any province which tries to take the lead by signing on to regional initiatives to fill the gap they've left. (Not to mention to claim that because it's "early days yet", a government which has accomplished less than nothing after holding power for over three years should stay on the sidelines while waiting for a new U.S. administration to take the lead.)

All of which should make it clear that the Cons' sole intention when it comes to climate change is to do as little as possible as late as possible. And that's a reality which the Obama administration should bear in mind as the Cons try to sell continued inaction on both sides of the border.