Thursday, December 07, 2006

Dion on Mansbridge

I just finished watching Stephane Dion being interviewed on The National (or whatever Peter Mansbridge's show is called these days). I thought he did a very good job.

Just a few comments...

In the opening part about the environment, Stephane Dion sounds greener than any major politician I have seen in Canada or the United States at any level of government. It was inspiring and almost shocking to see. He talked about implementing Kyoto and fought back against those who say his government acheived nothing on climate change. But I find his message on sustainable development to be more notable. He's not backing down from calling it the issue of the century.

On some issues I do feel that Dion has been a bit hyperbolic in his criticism of Stephen Harper. While there have been failings, and while Dion needs to show that he can produce notably better results, it doesn't help his credibility to imply that on every issue Stephen Harper is an outrage. On Afghanistan, for example, I don't know that what Harper has done is dramatically different from what the Liberals would do. While it may be accurate to group Harper with the "neoconservatives", does it really apply in this case?

I liked how Dion handled the dual citizenship issue in his discussion with Mansbridge. First, he explained that it is merely something with emotional value due to his relationship with his mother. But, he also said that if it becomes a barrier for Canadians he will drop it. While he stressed again his total loyalty to Canada and pointed out past examples such as John Turner's dual Canadian - UK citizenship, he was also sensitive to the fact this may be important to Canadians.

Income Trusts was another of those areas where I feel he ought to leave well enough alone. Yes, there are people who are complaining. Yes, Harper was hypocritical on this issue. But does the current state of affairs need the further interventions Dion was implying? Goodale, McCallum and Brison have made suggestions to Dion, but what problem really exists to be fixed? (I guess that isn't totally a rhetorical question as I haven't followed every aspect of this particular issue.)

Anyway, that was the show and I'm glad I caught it.


At 8:28 AM, Blogger Geoffrey Laxton said...

With respect to the income trust issue, the main issues that need to be addressed are the following:

-Are income trusts in fact the tax leakage they are purported to be?
I was told that the nature of who was gunning for taxation of income trust distributions is:

'Finance officials have wanted to do this for some time. They almost persuaded Goodale, but he bailed. Then Flaherty agreed. By the way, the NDP and Bloc supported the Conservatives on this - but the Bloc now seems to be wavering in its support. '

-The major underlying issue is that corporate dividends and now in 2011 income trust distributions will unfairly be "double taxed" in taxed deferred retirement accounts. Harper understands the issue because he spoke out against it in 2005. The simple solution is to allow a dividend tax credit for retirement accounts. This will solve the issue and allow Harper to not go back on his platform promise to not tax income trust distributions going into tax deferred accounts.

At 7:49 PM, Blogger Andrew Spicer said...


At 4:36 PM, Blogger Werner Patels said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 4:37 PM, Blogger Werner Patels said...

I agree with your observation about Dion. To make up for his own, many, shortcomings, he feels it's necessary to be over the top in his criticism of Harper all the time -- e.g., his repeated comparisons of Harper to Bush (the whole world knows that our conservatives are more to the left than the US Democrats).

Dion is not a leader -- he's an otherwise honest and decent fellow, but he should have stayed in academia; he's not cut out for politics, and the Liberal Party will pay a hefty price for electing him leader.


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