Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Stephane Dion in Edmonton

Liberal leader Stephane Dion was making the rounds in Edmonton on Monday promoting the carbon tax formally known as the Green Shift. He had a 45 minute closed door session with Mayor Mandel which according to Mandel Mayor left him with more questions than answers, and afterwards Dion ducked reporters claiming no time due to scheduling issues. Later in the evening Dion held a town hall style meeting where he answered questions about his carbon tax proposal among others.

I happened to have some free time this evening so I thought I would go and listen to the leader of the loyal opposition speak.

Here is my honest take, that will end up being way to long by the time I write it all down, but read on if you wish and if you were there feel free to drop in a comment.

We arrived early to the Polish Hall to be guaranteed of decent seating, but it turned out not to be an issue as there were plenty of seats open throughout the even. I heard someone use the number 400, but I think closer to 300 would be more accurate, still a good turnout by any standards for a Liberal in the west.

Before the event started and while I was waiting patiently in my seat being stared at by the hundreds of posters of Dion that were stuck up on the walls, I did hear an interesting comment from a local LPC organizer who referred to Jennifer Wright's company, and rightful owner of the Green Shift name, as " an environmental crap company". Just a friendly reminder not to get in the way of the big red machine in their quest for power I guess.

Dion arrived a fashionably 15 minutes late and the usual introductions were made. A couple of points; my friend whispered a great piano player joke to me when Tommy Banks was introduced that I cannot repeat here, and while they were calling out the names of local Liberal candidates and they were running up onto the stage to be beside Dion; I noticed that a few were missing when their names were called. I wished I had been paying more attention as to who was not there and who was not, but thought it interesting that all of them would not be there standing in solidarity with Dion.

Dion initial speech contained many of the same well used lines we have all heard in the past and was very heavy on how Albertans would benefit and how we must show the world we care. It was remarkably short and I give him full marks for getting to the floor for questions as soon as possible. Dion's English has improved a lot in my opinion and only a couple of times when he got a bit riled up did he have some difficulty, and I did manage to learn a new word tonight from Dion; "inventicity."

The questions were, as I expected, quite varied, but in my opinion there were no real hardballs thrown towards Dion on this night. I will get to the more serious ones near the end along with how they were spun, but first some others of note.

There was the 8yr old? kid (the comment "plant" was overheard from the chairs a few rows behind me, LPC supporters BTW) who asked about the future.

We had the guy who claimed that the oil he invented made his old Pontiac get 118 miles per gallon (this apparently could be confirmed by a Green Party candidate), but he was cut off by the moderator after he rambled on for too long. Thank you Senator.

Someone asked if the Dion would remove the GST on wind turbines, and couple of others were pushing geo thermal.

One older lady was asking for Dion to remove Premier Stelmach from power, and what Liberal event would be complete without someone calling PM Harper an evil dictator; interestingly enough he complained about the Liberal media strategy. I wanted to cry out call Krista Erickson at the CBC but the good voice in my head stopped me.

There was only one question relating to heath care that I can remember; it dealt with nursing home standards, which is a provincial responsibility, and there was one question about child care where Dion committed to Dryden like childcare plan. Where he is going to come up with the 20 billion for that is any ones guess, but that is for another day.

There was a question from an older fellow asking Dion if he had ever looked at the other side of the issue. I heard the word 'denier' whispered at least twice while he was speaking, and one young lady yelled out to not believe those scientists because they 'were being paid by Shell Oil.' What did surprise me though was Dion seemed unaware that there are many credible scientists out there who do have doubts; stating he did not know where this guy got his numbers from and went for the old majority of scientists line. Agree or not, believe or not, if you are embarking on a plan to radically alter our economy shouldn't you at least be aware of all sides of an issue before making us all take the plunge? Your average Liberal blogger is more aware of the scientific argument than Dion is, and that is very scary if you ask me.

What I found most entertaining was watching Liberal spin live and in person. This really showed itself with a couple of questions that dealt with the added costs that we would be expected to pay, and they were all answered in the same way. Actually the specifics were not answered at all as Dion was working the smoke and mirrors hard avoiding the actual questions.

One was from one of those easy money guys from Fort Mac who didn't care if the price of gas went up $1.00 a litre because he could afford it, but asked how seniors could be expected to shoulder the extra costs. Dion totally avoided the question by talking about how the Liberal loved and supported seniors in Canada.

Another was from a low income student who did not make enough to pay income tax and was renting who wondered how he could be expected to cover the increased costs and still afford to go to school. Dion's answer was classic Liberal BS. Dion acted like he knew more about how the student lived than the student did. He told him that the $400 dollars he would get would easily cover the costs because as was student he would not have to heat a big house, he would be taking public transport and not be driving, and he would not have many tv's or computers so it would not cost him that much. Now that is arrogance at it's best folks. I wish he would have asked Dion if tuition would go up because of the carbon tax, because watching Dion squirm around that one would have been worth the price of admission, but that was not to be.

It looked like a couple of times that Dion might have to actually address the concerns over inflation and the rising costs due to his plan, but instead of addressing the concerns Dion used his pat answer of at least we would be getting something back with his plan. No mention that for most of us, with the poor being hit the hardest, that what we will be getting back will be much less than what we have to pay out in added cost.

Something else that really bothered me tonight was Dion's interchanging the word pollution for CO2. I have noticed this a couple of times in the past with some of his MP's in their summer letter writing campaign to local papers, but Dion, being the self proclaimed environmental hero, should know better. CO2 is NOT pollution because CO2 is necessary for life on this earth to even exist and without it we would simply die. So stop it already.

There is much more as I haven't even mentioned half of the obvious spin, the platitudes, or the rah rah it is up to us to lead and save the world stuff that Dion was trying to sell everyone in the room, and plenty of thoughts about my role as a blogger and what I should or should not do at an event such as this, but this post has already gotten way too long and it is time to shut it down while there might still be someone left who has read this far.

Comments and questions are always welcome.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like Dion impressed you?

Alberta Girl said...

Let's see - he talked to the mayor and he said he has many more questions - doesn't sound too convinced.

He talked to the youth conference and one young lady interviewed said that she was concerned because he never had hard numbers and never said how they would reduce pollution.

Hmmm. yep anony - I'll bet AA was impressed alright....

maryT said...

What is that commercial-I can't believe I read the whole thing.
Yes I did, and thank you for going and reporting.
Did you want to ask any questions.
Re pollution and co2, I have been saying that for years.
And as enviroidiots do not believe it, I suggest they all stop breathing for 20 minutes every hour, to be increased to 60 minutes/hour in 4 years.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

This is a fantastic post, Ardvark. I read the whole thing and am very grateful for your first-person account, which I must say was quite objective.

You did much better reporting than the Star.

Thanks for taking the time to do this. Glad you didn't drink the red koolaid.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we could have a contest to come up with the name of a leader or a person in history who is as naive and pigheaded as Dion is as he leads us to disaster. This has been nagging me for a while - maybe Neville Chamberlain? The captain of the Titanic (though perhaps I malign him)? Joe Clark? Marie Antoinette? Please help me out her...

Thanks for your reporting skills - did you take a shower afterwards?

Reid said...

Good job Ardvark. Thanks for the summary.

The fact that so people showed up, and those that did were mostly Liberals, just goes to show how much this is resonating with Canadians. When a real election campaign starts and the public are paying more attention, this is going to sink the Liberals. I can't believe they think this is going to win them an election.

hunter said...

Thanks Ardvark, nice reporting! Glad you went and can give us your honest opinion. Doesn't sound like Dion was too convincing but what is interesting is that it sounds like some "green" voters might be buying his garbage. Will this unite the left?

Anna Keightley said...

Great first hand report of Dion's Edmonton address. So, he lacked hard facts and figures according to the young girl in the audience. She took note as majority of Canadians will.

He arrived fifteen minutes late. He could have done everyone a favour, imo, and not showed up at all.

Thanks for the coverage. Can you get the text of the address verbatim and add here?

Chuckercanuck said...

Agreed with Joanne - fair and balanced!

Platty said...

Well done there AA, that's some of the best reporting we have had on this fantasy trip Dion is on.(ouch, don't say that last part too fast)

So this plan has been out there for three weeks now and it is already sinking faster than Dions popularity numbers.

I agree with Reid, stick a fork in this one folks, not only is it done, it's done in the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

I'd have to call that well done.


Ardvark said...

Anon, impressed would be a VERY big overstatement; I was trying to be honest and fair in reporting how I saw things, good and bad.

Mary, yes I did want to ask questions, and had a couple of them that would have made Dion squirm, but here was my dilemma. It was a public event, but could I be considered a member of the public? I am obviously a supporter of the CPC, as well as a partisan blogger; not really media but not a regular member of the public either so I took the approach that I was there to try and cover the story and not be the story. I get so pissed off when the media does this that I couldn't justify doing it myself. Also on that note; even if I had asked an important relevant question it could be dismissed or spun by the Libs claiming that I was sent by the CPC, or my purpose was to disrupt, sabotage etc. Attacking the messenger is SOP with the Libs and I was not going to give them the opening to do so.

Joanne, thanks but I think that I am allergic to red koolaid so I won't drink the stuff, but I was glad that I went. I guess following politics as closely as we do makes one look at things a bit differently than your average person does. Sitting in a room full of Liberal friendly people watching the spin with all the half truths and purposeful omissions was truly amazing to view firsthand.

Reid and Hunter, when the truth about the costs does eventually get out there, all the platitudes and spin in the world will not help Dion sell this plan, even to the lefties. His having to avoid even the easy questions last night is proof of that.

All hat no cattle.

Thanks again for all of the comments.

aek said...

Great report!

I'm not surprised Dion wasn't aware of arguments supporting the other side of the debate.

I imagine Dion is also unaware that 31,000 scientists signed a petition rejecting the unproven theory of man-made global warming or that the so-called 2500 scientists whose names are affixed to the IPCC report didn't necessarily agree with it:.

"There is no endorsement by 2500 top UN scientists. The press has been taken. And so the public has been taken."

Propagandists like Suzuki and Gore refuse to debate experts. They arrogantly claim "the science is settled", yet unless they debate, how are we to know that they are even aware of the latest science?

I seriously question whether their motivation for the global-warming hysteria they are fueling is more about power, fame and money than "saving the planet" by spending potentially trillions of dollars without examining the opportunity costs.

With energy costs increasing so dramatically due to world demand, Canada doesn't need Dion's new tax to make rational decisions to develop alternatives or increase supply.

The real purpose of the Dion's energy tax is to fund the Liberal Party's social program spending plans, as spelled out in their Green Shaft Manifesto.

Furthermore, penalizing the western oil-producing provinces in greater proportion is a bonus for the Liberals since they have virtually nothing to lose in the west and everything to gain in the east by fomenting irrational eastern resentment and then disproportionately bribing them with graft taken from Dion's "milk cow".

Anonymous said...

As a Liberal supporter who was at the townhall last night I just want to say thank you for your honest review.

I disagree with you on the merits of the Green Shift, but in fairness I do have to agree that Mr.Dion was not that forthcoming with all of his answers. It was his first townhall and he will improve.

Anonymous said...

Afterward I heard mayor Mandel on the radio. It was quite telling to hear our liberal mayor state that he "still had questions. We all know that when the taxman taketh away he does not always giveth back".
Or something to that effect. From a liberal. Heh.

maryT said...

I am sure he got some applause, but was it hearty or limp.
Anyone find out who the 8yr old plant was. Would be fun to question him next week and ask his thoughts. Didn't Hillory get blasted for using plants in her audience. How many others were there, and what was the age group.

Ardvark said...

Thanks Chucker, Platty,Anna and anon Liberal dude or dudette. It would have been easy to go into full partisan on the town hall but I'll leave that for the MSM.

Aek, the fellow in the audience used the 31,000 number in his question. Dion's reply was that he didn't know where this gentleman got his numbers from and cited the 2500 UN numbers. How can anyone claim Dion as some kind of expert on the environment if he is so totally unaware of the opposing position and the numbers? Every greenie out there knows this. It is mind boggling that Dion is unaware.

Mary, the applause was honest. It was a room full of supporters for the most part, and even those few that were not Liberals gave a polite applause. I have this fear now that there may be video evidence of me applauding Dion; with the number of cameras there last night it is a good probability =)

As for the kid. The 'plant' term was not from me, I heard a couple of guys sitting behind me say it, and looking at how it played out I would tend to agree. I do not know how many kids that age that would even know anything about what was going on without some 'guidance' from someone else, and there would probably be even less that could think up a question on their own and be brave enough to ask it in front of 300 people. An over zealous parent would be my guess rather than it being planned by the LPC. There I go being nice again.

OMMAG said...

You deserve a reward .... I'll get you a beer someday!

Ardvark said...

Thanks for the offer; I will gladly drink that beer =)

maryT said...

g/son just phoned to say hello from Edmonton. I asked him if he went to listen to Dion.
"you mean the guy with the greenshaft plan, who is he anyway."
This from a 25 yr old.
Guess he is not a candidate for greenpeace.