December 03, 2007

Failing to Sell the Lemons

Tories turn to ex-PQ premier for Bali talks

One of the biggest points of contention I have with this Conservative government is that they have spent more time and money trying to sell us a product while not actually having the product in hand. This is especially true when it comes to the environment. When the original Clean-Air Act was out there it was rejected for its lack of substance and action. Then another plan was released less than a year later and... It was severely lacking as well. However, there was one major difference, the presentation, language and optics surrounding it had changed.

What the government learned between the two events was not that climate change is a real threat or that we should make an attempt to act. No. What they had learned was that they needed to sell it differently,

The change was supposed to be the job of Baird who replaced a dismal Ambrose. However, he didn't fair much better than she did and so the job has been mainly left up to Harper, himself. He has gone on a 'tour' recently throwing his weight behind the APPCDC program rather than Kyoto, pushing a plan of intensity targets rather than real targets and trying to make a case for a 'wait and see' rather than acting now. The problem with all of these is that they all contain their own issues in regards to public perception. The APPCDC is seen as the deniers' Kyoto, the intensity target plan has been panned by reviewers and critics and waiting doesn't seem like an option to most people.

Now, with the Conservative government facing criticisms in Quebec over their lack of commitment to Kyoto and Kyoto-2, and with Harper's Commonwealth letdown, they are once again ramping up their giant environment commercial. To assist them they have hired former Quebec PQ Premier, Pierre-Marc Johnson. Johnson's job is to advise Harper on how to act publicly and sell his positions at to Quebec while in Bali for the Kyoto-2 discussions. Johnson will not be advising on how to create a better environmental program but rather on how to package the optics of inaction to a province that has been a target of the Conservatives since they've taken power.

There is a serious problem with this plan, however. The government has yet been able to get people to drink their environmental kool-aid, including those in Quebec. They have pulled out a lot of tricks and so far nothing has convinced the public that this Conservative government is truly concerned over what may come from climate change or that they even believe in the problem itself. Now Harper is in Bali to discuss Kyoto and beyond, though he refused to include any opposition in the delegation. That raised some eyebrows. To counter, he's bringing along a former politician with ties to the PQ. A purely cynical and obvious decision that is as transparent as the air we breathe.

The problem is this: The products that are often sold the best are the ones that have passion, belief and commitment backing them. The sell has to make the consumer feel confident in what they are buying. It's often why the used-car salesmen are the butt of jokes. They didn't build the car, used their creativity to design it or put ideas into it. They're only concern is that it gets sold and the perception is that they will say anything to make that sale, even if the car is a lemon. That is problem the Conservatives are facing when it comes to the environment. They don't believe in it nor do they want to act on it. But since the environment is a major public concern they are trying to sell us something. Unfortunately there is no passion, belief or commitment backing their product and subsequently, they are failing to deliver a plan and the sell.

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Quotes from people smarter than me...

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich" ~ JFK

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. " ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. " ~ Benjamin Franklin

"First it is necessary to stand on your own two feet. But the minute a man finds himself in that position, the next thing he should do is reach out his arms. " ~ Kristin Hunter

"When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans." ~ Jean Chretien

"Which is ideology? Which not? You shall know them by their assertion of truth, their contempt for considered reflection, and their fear of debate." ~ John Ralston Saul

"It is undoubtedly easier to believe in absolutes, follow blindly, mouth received wisdom. But that is self-betrayal." ~ John Ralston Saul

"Everybody dies, Tracey. Someone's carrying a bullet for you right now, doesn't even know it. The trick is to die of old age before it finds you." ~ Cpt. Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly, Episode 12)