One week ago today, I posted about the Conservatives affinity towards using gimmicks. That they haven't really produced much more than a lot of optics is fairly accurate. Since that post the optics knob has been cranked to the max and gimmicks are being dished out at light speed.
Today the Conservatives re-unveiled their plan to include up to 5% ethanol or other biofuels into gasoline by 2010 and diesel by 2012. This was originally unveiled with the so-called "Clean Air Act". In fact, Ambrose, who was flanked by Chuck Strahl, specifically stated that this needed to be passed with the Clean Air Act. This, obviously, was all just another game of optics and a lousy attempt to save face.
The optics of this announcement extended beyond just announcing a program that is already in place. Chuck Strahl was also present because of his big PR gaffe that came with the firing of the head of the Wheat Board (it definitely didn't win them many farmers' votes). Essentially after Ambrose was finished reading her talking points Strahl got up and repeatedly mentioned that this plan was 'good news for farmers'. Why is it good news? Because the government is going to reimburse farmers for their initial investments for the technology to produce more ethanol, rather than just make an investment in farmers themselves (the Liberal plan).
As mentioned, this plan has already been announced, but it comes on the heels of another announcement where the gimmick was also front and centre. Take for example the Conservatives plan to extend the funding of the federal homelessness plan. While it is laudable that they are doing this, they have decided to re-brand the program so they can say during election time, "we created it."
In fact, ever since the House broke for the holidays it has been one thing after another that all seems to be pointing towards pre-election posturing. Harper ran to Quebec to sell land back to Quebecers and talk about his nation motion. He has also been trying to suck up to the media by attending their parties, having some of his own and holding one-on-ones with the major networks. And for anyone that has seen them, they are priceless (and sad). This has also been coupled with his faint praise for the NDP's 'willingness' to work with him on creating a better environmental policy in an effort to green-wash his government. With the exception of Canwest, none of the media outlets seem to be playing ball as they all are quick to point out the problems with all these announcements. But then again aren't they all conspiring against the Conservatives?
I'm sure there will be more and that I'm even missing a few points. At some point this government needs to make a move. I don't believe Canadians are as naive as the Conservatives take them for. Too many provincial governments have trotted down the ideology path with masks of moderation donned. And there was the last Liberal federal government that also used some trickery here and there to cover-up their own shortcomings. There is also the problem that the Republicans in the US have also been playing a similar game since 2001. Politics has to be about much more than optics and gimmicks anymore because people are privy to the reality they live in.