How Can Readers Take Simpson Seriously?

Jeffrey Simpson dismisses Jack Layton in today’s Globe and Mail, “How can voters take the NDP seriously? ”

The first substantive critique appears about halfway through the column: “the NDP has not provided any costing for their platform.” As has been widely reported yesterday and today, the NDP is releasing its costed platform tomorrow. Since the platform is not out yet, how can Simpson claim that there is no costing?

The same paragraph refers to “corporate tax ‘giveaways’ that the party asserts amount to $50-billion.” This figure is not an NDP assertion, but a Finance Canada projection (see Table 3.1 on page 73 of the 2007 Economic Statement).

On greenhouse gases, Simpson writes, “The NDP approach misses office buildings, light industry, personal transportation (cars and trucks), freight transportation, urban waste, agriculture that together equal not quite half of all emissions.” This point is accurate with respect to cap and trade, but misses numerous green investments and regulatory changes that the NDP has proposed.

Astute readers will note that Simpson has changed his tune. Three months ago, he wrote of “the fact that most emissions come from individuals.” Today, he correctly acknowledges that individuals plus all other entities that are not Large Final Emitters account for less than half of total emissions.


  • Right on Erin!

  • Might I add, gentlemen, that Jeffrey Simpson’s exercise in mendacity was accompanied by the familiar naked assertion that higher corporate taxes would deter investment? This site has devoted a whole section to just this question, and found that old neoliberal nostrum to be rather lacking for something so fiercely asseverated. As concerns the “Green Jobs” plan, one might want to educate Simpson on the history of state support for incipient industries, beginning, perhaps, with Peter Lougheed’s decision to earmark provincial revenues for the tarsands…

  • Funny that you should say that. I was about to post a similar post along those lines after reading Simpson’s silly attacks on Layton today (I still might).

    I find that the Liberal arrogance is showing everywhere. I noticed it especially on Mike Duffy Live: it’s always the Liberal MP or strategist on a panel of guests from all the parties that interrupt the NDP person on the panel and then makes derogatory remarks about Layton and how “deluded” he supposedly is and that he has become “a big joke” for aiming for the top this time around.

  • Aye, Werner. Hysterics and distraction are the only responses Liberal types can muster once New Democrats show them to be political frauds of the first order. One can at least credit Harper with ideological forthrightness, but Dion and his predecessors are scam artists, purely and simply. It is quite remarkable how these stepped-up attacks on the NDP have coincided with the political implosion of the Liberal Party; I refuse to believe they are mere coincidence. There is a real possibility, at this stage, that the NDP might become the official opposition, such is Dion’s facility for squandering his party’s political capital. Let us hope these clowns collapse in a heap come election time so that a path may be cleared for a truly progressive agenda.

  • The Liberals embody a contradictory mix of social forces, ranging from militaristic finance capitalists and centre-social democrats to single-issue environmentalists and liberal urban professionals.

    This coalition is breaking apart because the real dynamics of class power in Canada are not supporting such a political formation.

    The Conservatives are on the rise because their policy agenda for a decentralized economic union, integrated with US capitalism and backed by military might matches the economic interests of Canadian capital and accommodates the national aspirations of Quebec (to some extent). Hence, the CP is quickly becoming the new “natural” power bloc.

    The NDP is similarly on the rise because it appears to present a sharp ideological contrast with ruling class interests. The Liberals forever squandered their credentials as a progressive force in the 1990s with the CHST, the inaction on climate change, the support for NAFTA, the WTO, and globalization more generally, and the wars of the 1990s, not to mention their longstanding chauvenism towards Quebec.

    We can see, then, four problems with the LPC: (1) they represent a far too contradictory mix of social forces; (2) their policy agenda and strategic orientation does not match (to a full extent) the real logic of capitalist power in Canada; (3) they have no progressive credentials; and (4) they do not understand the national question in Canada/Quebec (not to mention issues relating to the First Nations).

    The ongoing discussion in the media of Dion’s weak leadership is just a confused blabber about these underlying social dynamics.

  • Jeffrey Simpson always has an election piece which urges the New Democrats to move to the centre. I always fail to see why Canada needs two Liberal Parties.

  • Andrew wrote:

    “Jeffrey Simpson always has an election piece which urges the New Democrats to move to the centre. I always fail to see why Canada needs two Liberal Parties.”

    You have now fully anticipated Simpson’s next argument, i.e., why indeed do we need two liberal party’s. That is always why it is disingenuous when liberals make that argument.

  • I have a few questions/suggestions. First, since Layton seems to be making the CIT cut/restoration an issue, is he going to defend himself against the accusations of being “out of touch”. This blog has demonstrated that there is reason to be skeptical of the assertions that CIT cuts are necessary for investment/competitiveness (Sidenote: I would really like to see a post on here with a concise and cogent defense of Layton’s gambit if someone can offer one.). As for the politics, I can’t understand why the NDP doesn’t defend itself when the Liberals accuse them of eroding the anti-Harper defense. At this point, the case can just as well be made that the Liberals are “stealing” the NDP vote and, in effect, spliting the left. Also, I think that Layton would do well to bring up the Liberal record with respect to national childcare promises, etc. Why is he so reluctant to paint the Liberals and Conservatives with the same brush?

  • There used to be a time when I believed in that dichotomy of right v. left. But then I realized there is really only right v. wrong, or reasonable/commonsensical v. unreasonable/foolish.

    Tony Blair, for example, put it in similar terms when he addressed a Calgary audience last year (and yours truly was fortunate enough to be included in that number).

    Simpson may still think in these old terms, e.g., when he suggests that the NDP move to the centre.

    Well, here’s the way I see it, comparing current Liberals and NDP:

    The NDP has an infinitely more reasonable/commonsensical/practical, etc. platform than the Liberals. What is more, the NDP has a leader who knows what people want and need and who knows how to connect with people — something the Liberals can only dream of.

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