In my previous post, I discussed the probable direction of the Ignatieff Liberal Party’s play for Green Party voters in the next election. The Liberals will be busily organizing, and refurbishing their electoral machine over the coming months. They are now preparing for a Federal election at the time of their choosing. I am convinced that they will dustbin the Green tax shift, and put in place a pablum environmental policy, with a couple of popular giveaways to use as talking points. Therein lies the opportunity for the Green Party of Canada.
As the Liberals will fashion their assault on the Green Party, so should the GPC be sharpening an attack of our own. It is a given that the GPC itself, and their core vote and membership are supportive of a revenue neutral carbon tax. That is because it is good policy. There will be a great many Canadians who were engaged enough in the last election to actually look into Stephan Dion’s tax proposals, and many of them will not want to see the policy strangled, and buried behind the woodshed. Personally I am most comfortable with campaigning from a position of policy strength. Furthermore, the type of educated, and affluent voter that will be attracted by this type of campaign, once committed to the Green Party of Canada, will be motivated to get out and vote on E-Day.
Therefore, we need to refashion our Green Party Tax shift, and go at it in a big way. No more negative campaigning. Focus on our tax policy, and hammer at the theme. It’s obvious to all that Dion failed to sell the program, and in a big way. The Conservatives successfully labelled it a tax grab, and that really squeezed an inarticulate Dion into an awkward place. That leaves me of two minds about how we package our plan. Do we lead in with a big income tax break, with large rebates for farmers and truckers? In that event, we should leave the carbon taxes as a footnote on how we will pay for it. The other option is to simply re-possess the Green Tax Shift, and thank the Liberals for spending millions promoting our plan in the 2008 election? There are risks, and benefits of both approaches, and that is what professional opinion polling is for.
There seems to be some very strange ideas in the Green Party as to why political party’s commission polls. The simple answer to that question is NOT to find out what current voting
intentions are, other than to guage the efficacy of the campaign. The purpose of polling is to obtain unbiased data on what message, and what policy presentation resonates best with which segment of the population. If the Green Party of Canada wants to clobber the Conservatives, Liberals, Bloc, or NDP, then they should be commissioning large surveys of the electorate. The opinion survey presents different policy statements to the respondents, and measures their reactions. With this information in hand, the Campaign theme, and message, (which are distinct) are crafted to win over the targeted electorate.
I do not have the resources, ($50k?) to commission such a survey, but the Green party does, and should, prior to crafting their Campaign plan for the next election. We can cheap out a little, and assume that the Tax shift is one of our major planks. That will allow us to shorten the survey, and figure out the best presentation to clobber our foes. I think that splitting off a small portion of the Liberal, and Conservative vote in the next election is going to prove the tipping point, and propel a handful of Green candidates into Parliament.
Just remember folks. Electoral politics isn’t a game. It’s civil society’s substitute for warfare, and the stakes are the same as those our medieval forbears saddled up, and hacked their neighbours to bits over. If we do not get serious about it, we can expect to be the sweet/shrill Party, sitting on the sidelines, and getting nowhere with our brilliant policy prescriptions forever more. Conversely, we can focus sharply on organizing, and preparing for the next election, and by pushing our platform forward onto the National stage, start making real changes to improve the lives of all Canadians.