Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Conservative and NDP deception on poverty

Recently, BC’er exposed fabrications on the part of the NDP when it comes to Liberal record on poverty. They actually claimed poverty went up while the Liberals had surplus budgets which is a complete lie.

Now we have the Conservatives jumping on board parroting a similarly deceptive line :
Child poverty actually rose under the Liberal watch

They fail to update their website basically for 3 weeks (h/t Kady O'Malley) and this is what they come up with?

They provide a link to the supposed evidence at least, but what do we find at that link? Click to the next page and you see:

It is a positive sign that the rate of child poverty dropped for the fourth consecutive year

The same link at Campaign 2000 also provides a graph of child poverty rates from 1989-2000:

As we can see poverty was declining under the Liberal watch from 1996 on. So while the Conservative line was not an outright lie like what came from the NDP, it’s clearly meant to imply that child poverty was worse when the Liberals left office then when they came in.

But ok, let’s pretend the Conservatives really meant to say that poverty just went up until 1996 (3 years into a 13 year mandate before declining every year thereafter). Now why might child poverty have gone up in the first few years? Could it be because the Conservatives left behind such a mess economically that Canada was being referred to as a borderline third-world country and there were even calls for the IMF to be brought in? Could it be because some damn hard choices had to be made to clean up the mess Conservatives left behind? The link at the Conservative site also mentions that some poverty programs were cut during the deficit slashing days, but weren’t Stephen Harper and the reform party calling on the Liberals to go further at the time? That the cuts should be much deeper?

Let’s not get all revisionist here, the Harper Conservatives have never cared about the poor. Once we got back to surpluses again you can see child poverty did go down each year as Campaign 2000 notes and many social program cuts were restored (something a Conservative government would never have done). Child poverty continued to decline each year after 2000 and was 11.7% when the Liberals left office.

Clearly, the people who do research for the Conservatives and NDP need to give their heads a shake.

But I don’t want to sound like I’m white-washing the Liberal record, even Stéphane Dion says the Liberals did not do as well as he would have liked (the link at the Conservative site also gives us the shocking news that Ken Dryden said the exact same thing as Dion). But Dion has laid out a plan to achieve ambitious targets and he’s indicated that what gets revealed on the campaign trail will be the most detailed poverty plan Canada has ever seen and will be fully costed. He deserves credit for taking this issue by the horns and calling on all the poverty groups to hold his feet to the fire on it.

You might ask why is the only ONLY response from the NDP and Conservatives to mislead Canadians and set up a straw man to attack (the “Liberal record”) instead of discussing the plan itself? I think Canadians know Stéphane Dion was not PM in the last Liberal government and therefore couldn’t call all the shots, just like no one in the NDP holds Howard Hampton responsible for the decisions made by Bob Rae while Hampton was at the cabinet table. Even then, neither the Conservatives nor the NDP can even honestly attack the Liberal record because they just don’t want to admit that poverty went down on the whole over the course of the Liberal term in office.

You might also wonder why many poverty groups are praising Stephane Dion for his poverty plan, yet the other parties only attack him in a completely misleading manner for it?

Could it be that the Conservatives and NDP are afraid that Dion’s found the right approach on this issue and that his plan will resonate with Canadians? That they know that if given the chance, Dion would get the job done?

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calgarygrit said...

Good work. But, then again, Stephen Harper never let facts get in the way of a good talking point...

Joseph said...

Excellent Post. Thanks for staying on top of this. Liberals need to learn to respond directly every time this happens. Not in a nasty way, but in a formal statement or announcement that makes it clear the NDP or Conservatives are playing with the truth.

On a note of constructive criticism of your site.


I am not technically color-blind (I mean that in the literal sense, not in some political litmus-test kinda way ; ), however, like many people - particularly men - I have a degree of sensitivity to certain color combinations.

The "florescent purple" color of your text for control links (links in your text, home page link, older post link), etc against the red background is very, very irritating for me to read. I used to know the statistics on this but don't at the moment, but if it is that way for me, it's probably that way for probably 1 out of every 8 or 10 people who view your blog.

You *might* want to consider changing the link text color to something darker and less "bright" - like a solid darker blue or just another color - like solid yellow. It's the combo of the color of the bright purple-tinted text against the red background that makes the linked test look hazy and blurred to folks with my condition (which is a condition shared by a sizable number of people)>

It's just a thought. It doesn't keep me from reading your blog obviously ; ). But since it probably looks fine to you, it may never have crossed your mind so thought I'd mention it.


ALW said...

"Let’s not get all revisionist here, the Harper Conservatives have never cared about the poor."

Er, excuse me? And you are basing this claim on what precisely? The fact that conservatives don't take the identical approach that the Liberals and NDP take (ie, throw lots of money at the problem, forever and ever) means conservatives don't care about the poor?

I find it a bit bizarre for you to be protesting Tory spin when you're comfortable making these kinds of baseless assertions. I also presume that your understanding about a new government being left holding the bag will also extend to the Tories when it comes to Kyoto, then?

The Dion plan for poverty isn't some bright new unorthodox idea. It's something that's been tried ad nauseum, in countless jurisdictions of all shapes and sizes. I don't oppose it because of its popularity or unpopularity; I oppose it because it is ill-conceived and won't help the poor in the long run.

Danielle Takacs said...

CG: Very true, but you'd think their source for their claim wouldn't completely refute what they said!

Joseph: Thanks for the words of advice! I would have never known. So I will defiantely look into that.

ALW: As far as where I get the idea that Harper doesn't care about the poor, I remember in the last election he was asked a question about homelessness and what he was going to do about it. His reply was that he would provide tax cuts and that hopefully that would help. Clearly not something he thinks about often. More recently, Harper tossed Mark Warner as a candidate just for talking about poverty so I don't think Harper will be putting out any comprehensive poverty plan anytime soon. Before attacking what I say as baseless, please provide some evidence Harper does genuinely care about the poor.

As for Dion's plan having been tried and failed, it's based on Tony Blair's poverty plan in the UK that was declared a pretty big success, so I don't know what examples you are thinking of...

Finally, as for Kyoto, the Liberals had a plan to meet Kyoto, Harper killed it and did nothing for over a year before basically re-instating some of the Liberal programs and then putting out a "plan" panned by every single independent group that looked at it. So while the Liberals get some blame (as Dion has noted himself), you can't go claiming Harper can't be held accountable for his actions (or inaction) on the envronment so far.