Problem Solved for Stéphane Dion: Shift from Green to Red

June 24, 2008 by  

Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper today reported that a well-established Toronto-based company, Green Shift Inc., which carries on business under the name “Green Shift” (in which it holds the registered Trade Mark), is contemplating the commencement of legal action against the Liberal Party of Canada. Last week, the Liberal Party of Canada released a platform of “green” proposals to tax the consumption of “carbon”, while purportedly lowering income tax rates to make the new carbon taxes “revenue neutral” (but, see below). The Liberals named the platform “The Green Shift”, and registered the domain name to promote it. Green Shift Inc.’s domain name is (no “the”).

According to the Globe and Mail report, Green Shift Inc. founder Jennifer Wright last week received a phone call from:

…Katie Telford, the deputy chief of staff to Mr. Dion, the Liberal Leader, informing her that the Liberals were about to launch their own “green shift” plan.

Ms. Wright recalls being told by the senior Liberal aide: “I just want to let you know that you’re going to be getting a lot of hits on the website.”

Ms. Wright said she warned Ms. Telford the Liberals could expect a lawsuit if they went ahead and used the name.

It sounds to me that the Liberals already knew they were playing with fire and so tried to preempt legal action by trying to spin the unauthorized use as though it were a favour to Ms. Wright. Their schtick is akin to registering, and then – for fear of being sued – calling Madonna and arguing that you are somehow doing Madonna a favour by possibly causing people accidentally to stumble onto her official website, Madonna wouldn’t buy it, and neither has Ms. Wright (who, I would add with conditional praise, makes a point of saying that hers is an expressly for-profit venture).

According to the Globe and Mail, Ms. Right’s company has a contract to supply Parliament Hill cafeterias with coffee cups. I can only guess that members of the Liberal Party brain trust sometimes buy their coffee there. There’s a derisive old saying that “This policy proposal seems to have been drawn up on the back of a cocktail napkin”. It would appear that the Liberals – ever the party of the something-for-nothinger – cut out the need even to do that much work and, instead, just read “Green Shift” from the side or bottom of the biodegradable cup from which they were drinking their taxpayer-funded morning java. [NOTE: Might we now see the emergence of the saying: “This policy proposal seems to have been snatched from the small print of a recyclable coffee cup”? – If so, remember who said it first]

I have some free advice for Liberal leader Stéphane Dion and his party: rename the party platform “The Red Shift”, and register the domain name I submit that this change should be made for at least two reasons:

  1. it will resolve the legal dispute with Green Shift Inc.; and
  2. it will be a more apt metaphor for the Liberal carbon taxing platform.

My first point speaks for itself: different name, no dispute.

In support of my second point – that “Red Shift” is the more apt metaphor – I offer the following arguments.

  1. Red, not green, is regarded as the Liberal Party of Canada’s party colour. For reasons that need not be stated, green is regarded as the Green Party of Canada’s party colour. The Liberal Party’s tendency for political cross-dressing notwithstanding, no harm will be done by rallying behind the party colour. “Red” Shift is the more Liberal term.
  2. If you actually read the Liberal “Green Shift” platform, you will note that although it aims to cut income tax rates so as to make the introduction of new carbon taxes “revenue neutral”, the net effect of the plan is to make the income tax rate structure even more “progressive” (i.e., Robbin’ Hoodish) than it is already. Here’s a key passage:

    By the fourth year of our plan we will have completed a large personal income tax reduction program.

    We will cut the lowest income tax rate to 13.5 per cent from 15 per cent. This means we will cut taxes in the lowest bracket by 10 per cent.

    And we will cut the middle class tax rates to 21 per cent from 22 per cent (a 4.5 per cent cut) and to 25 per cent from 26 per cent (a 3.8 per cent cut).

    Cutting income tax rates rewards hard work and puts more money into Canadians’ pockets.

    Our goal is to help low-income Canadians in particular. As part of the Liberal 30/50 Plan for fighting poverty in Canada, we aim to cut overall poverty by 30 per cent and cut child poverty in half within five years. (emphasis added)
    – The Green Shift, p. 31

    The latter two sentences are the most accurate, honest, and essential ones to be found in the Liberal Green Shift platform. In reality, Green Shift is little more than a promise to redirect even more money from those who earn it to those who do not. Now, some will deny that charge and argue, in response, that the Liberal plan also promises corporate tax cuts. To which I say “Um, yeah”:

    We will accelerate and deepen the currently planned corporate tax cuts, reducing the general corporate tax rate by an additional one per cent within four years…In addition to lowering the general corporate tax rate, we will reduce the small business corporate tax rate by an additional one per cent.
    – The Green Shift, p. 36

    Whoa! One percent!! Phased in over…four years!!! Move over Mike Harris! My goodness. Forgive me, but this proposal reminds me of a scene in “Mr. Bean”. Bean’s girlfriend has stood with Bean in front of a jewelry store window, and has pointed to a wedding ring display: she wants Bean to buy her an engagement ring for Christmas. Ever the hilariously clueless half-wit, Bean does this instead:

    Scene from Mr. Bean

    Bean thereby proves how remote from his mind is the idea of actually marrying the woman. And so it is with a promise to cut someone’s taxes when the promised amount of the cut is 1% phased in over 4 years. Such a promise amounts to saying: “Let me demonstrate just how much I am opposed to giving you tax relief”. Like Bean, Dion would have been better off not to have made the offer at all.

    Red is the colour traditionally associated with wealth redistribution and collectivism. The only thing truly green about the Liberal platform is the envy it seeks to exploit. Because robbing the more productive and giving to the less productive is the essence of the Liberal platform, “The Red Shift” is a more fitting title for it than “The Green Shift”

  3. On June 20, 2008, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (leader of the governing Conservative Party of Canada) reportedly criticized the Liberal plan as follows:

    “The National Energy Program was designed to screw the West and really damage the energy sector and this will do those things…But this is different. It will actually screw everybody across the country.”

    The National Energy Program (“N.E.P.”) was introduced in 1980 by the then Liberal Canadian government of Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Under the N.E.P., oil prices were kept below world market prices, with the effect that the oil producing Canadian province of Alberta ended up subsidizing oil consumers in other Canadian provinces. The N.E.P. fueled secessionist sentiments in Western Canada which, historically, had been viewed (especially by those living in Western Canada) as a second-fiddle supplier of goods to the more populated, vote-rich, and industrial provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Stephen Harper’s comments, in effect, imply that Stéphane Dion’s “Green Shift” platform will similarly strain national unity, pitting oil-rich provinces against Ontario, Quebec and other non-oil-producing provinces.

    Now, follow me on this. Those familiar with physics may know that the term “redshift” refers to a shift of light wavelengths into the red part of the light spectrum. In one context, redshift refers the observation that there is a correlation between increasing redshifts and the increasing distance of galaxies. In other words, redshift can indicate that the universe is expanding; that objects in space are getting further and further apart. What more fitting metaphor could there be for a proposal under which the transfer of wealth from oil-producing provinces to non-producing provinces threatens to alienate the provinces from one another; to drive the provinces further and further apart; to increase secessionist sentiments; to strain national unity?

Red Shift. Make it yours Mr. Dion. Do your best to put a 21st century spin on 20th century socialism. Take the opportunity before the Conservatives do so (to your detriment). Keep in mind that, in physics, blueshift refers to the opposite of redshift. In my metaphorical sense, blueshift refers to bringing the provinces together; to strengthening national unity. And I do not need to tell you that blue is the party colour of the Conservative Party of Canada.


One Response to “Problem Solved for Stéphane Dion: Shift from Green to Red”

  1. Paul McKeever on July 9th, 2008 3:24 pm

    Update: Green Shift Inc. today served the Liberal Party of Canada with its Statement of Claim, thereby commencing a lawsuit for Trademark infringement. Here’s a link to the video of Green Shift Inc.’s founder giving a press conference today (July 9, 2008):

    Apparently, she attended Liberal Party headquarters and personally served the claim.

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