I’ve learned that in a reversal of internal government policy this past week, Conservative ministerial staffers are once again permitted to keep a Facebook profile on the popular social networking website.
Indeed, Facebook has become the latest killer online app and for some, it has replaced email for messaging friends and scheduling events and parties.
Earlier, I opined that the ‘corporate’ Facebook ban implemented by the Conservatives on their political staff was a shrewd move made to prevent a hungry media and opposition from exploiting personal material not intended for “front-page” exposure. A complete ban may have been harsh, yet the careless use of the site would have also been less than ideal. Thus, in policy refinement and compromise, the government has found a new optimum that works for everyone.
I’ve learned that each department has been tasked with implementing a policy on the use of Facebook for their staff, particularly concerning which privacy settings ought to be adjusted to both allow employees the use of the popular social networking tool and to allow a government known for its tight messaging to keep any loose ends from sticking out. The policy might be considered analogous to any other employee code of conduct, but this one is specialized for a website.
Ministerial facebookers will be pleased by the move and their employers will remain conscious of how to maintain the ideal balance.
So, Canada’s New Nanny™ banned light bulbs today. Today, Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn announced that the government would force retailers to phase out incandescent light bulbs by 2012.
This kind of action is actually counter productive to our progress and to the development of even greener technologies. By tying the invisible hand of the market, the Canadian government has in effect created an artificially high demand in fluorescent lights instead of letting Edison-style incandescents compete with the swirly fluorescents in the marketplace. The inefficient bulbs banned today cost seven times less than the fluorescent variety. Indeed, cost itself poses the problem. By removing incandescent bulbs from the marketplace, the government is removing competition. Now, manufacturers of fluorescent bulbs do not face competing pressure from the incandescent demand. Thus, there is less incentive to make a cheaper and even more efficient fluorescent bulb now that the government has removed its competition from the shelves. Over the long term, we may have in fact stunted the development of cheaper and more efficient means of illumination.
Some may argue that over time, due to energy savings, fluorescent bulbs have better value than incandescents. If this is the case, there is already incentive to switch over. I would rather the government give 100% tax credits on fluorescent light bulb purchases than have it ban me from making my own consumer choices.
Today, I am a little disappointed in my Conservative Party. This is also the same party that two short years ago argued that banning trans-fats was counter to the principles of consumer choice. By one extension, this light bulb decision is even counter to the government’s position on the long gun registry. In 2012, bureaucrats won’t have light bulbs to register. No, by 2012, the government will have thankfully banned harmful incandescent bulbs and the only ones that you’ll be able to find will be on the black market. This isn’t the party that favours government regulations, bans, and registrars is it?
So, the government has decided to ban light bulbs to appease the growing hysteria that, some might say, stems from the left-wing need for global social and economic reconfiguration. Granted, the ban will have a measured benefit in the short term. But, for reasons I’ve outlined above, it is best for the consumer to make such a decision because the market has shown a great talent for addressing consumer needs, whatever they may be.
If a lightbulb is turned on in Timmins, will a tidal wave hit Japan?
This week was the first week back after a break for Canada’s New Government. Climate change was expected to lead the agenda as it seems to be the sole issue on which the Liberals care to define themselves. Conservatives rose to power promising to clean up government after the most significant corruption scandal in Canadian history. The Liberals think that they’ll rise to power cleaning up… Carbon dioxide and water vapour? Canadians have perceived Harper delivering on the Federal Accountability Act while Canadians believe that neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals will deliver on climate change.
In fact, I believe that this underlines a key weakness in Liberal messaging. While polling has shown that the environment is a top priority for Canadians, they’re not about to throw out the government on the issue when they actually go to the polls. If heathcare — an issue which actually has a direct effect on the life and death of Canadians — can be taken off the ballot of the electorate by a couple of weeks of warm weather in Toronto, it would seem that there aren’t any pressing issues that are really on the minds of Canadians. “Environment? Sure that sounds like something I should care about”
Unless a hurricane hits Toronto killing scores of people, the electorate is not about to uproot a government to install the old guard led by a sponsorship-era cabinet minister with no real record on the only issue on which he has chosen to define himself.
That’s why this week’s messaging was so puzzling. At the beginning of this week, a protester braved the freezing temperatures of downtown Ottawa to stretch out to play the part of a sunbathing polar bear. One wonders if the protester only had the suit rented for that day.
Liberals were sporting green ribbons in the House this week,
presumably to show that they care about the environment. Since Dion’s election as Liberal leader, the Liberal website has also incorporated a splash of green. Apparently this is to make it known that our Liberal friends care about the environment so long as the vehicle for their environmentalism is the Kyoto protocol. According to the popular narrative these days, one does not believe in saving the environment if one does not believe in a global, bureaucratic, statist wealth transfer agreement. In fact, one also does not believe in the science of climate change if one does not also believe in such a one world collectivist approach to saving the Earth from certain doom (according to our latest amended models). In fact, while Michael Ignatieff was lecturing the government to meet global Kyoto targets, the green ribbon-clad Ignatieff had his own words thrown back at him when environment minister John Baird quoted Ignatieff questioning Kyoto by saying “nobody knows what Kyoto is or what it commits us to”.
Thursday afternoon, Mark Holland, part of the new Liberal rat pack, had a meltdown (actually he didn’t flinch) when he said on Charles Adlers’ show that a Liberal government would control oil sands development in Alberta. Sacrificing the Canadian economy just because green has become fashionable will have Canadians thinking twice about the Liberal party. (The Liberal Party of Canada is already dead to Albertans).
Earlier on Thursday, Dion had a poor question period performance as he bizarrely stated that Harper was “paralyzing the world” when it came to Kyoto. Somebody ought to proofread Dion’s notes before QP, but I imagine this would be a difficult talk as I hear that Dion is very top-down in his approach and has no time for criticism from his staff.
All in all, a bit of a bizarre week for the Liberals on their climate communications. We heard some whispers about an old Harper letter calling Kyoto a “socialist scheme”, but the Liberals didn’t seem to get any mileage on it.
Why would the Liberals spend this frigid week lecturing the Conservatives on the global warming file (one on which they themselves have a dismal record). Is there really nothing else to talk about? Did the Liberals really spend the week telling Canadians “We got nothing”?
BONUS BAD MESSAGING: Bill Graham demanded Conservative action on Guantanamo Bay, a bizarre request given that Graham was foreign affairs minister in the years after 9/11.