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Cablegate: Test Run for an Election? Dion Stumps for Greener, More

VZCZCXRO5533
OO RUEHGA RUEHHA RUEHQU RUEHVC
DE RUEHON #0154 1362005
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 152005Z MAY 08
FM AMCONSUL TORONTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2494
INFO RUCNCAN/ALCAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS TORONTO 000154

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV CA
SUBJECT: Test Run for an Election? Dion Stumps for Greener, More
Just Canada


Sensitive but Unclassified - Please Protect Accordingly.

1. (U) In a May 15 Toronto speech Stephane Dion, Liberal Party chief
and leader of the Official Opposition in Canada's federal House of
Commons, argued Canada's tax system should be restructured to reduce
pollution and poverty in Canada. While he did not reveal when he
would move to bring down the Conservative minority government, Dion
suggested that the Liberals would use the coming weeks and months to
contrast the Liberals' "Politics of Hope" with Conservative Prime
Minister Harper's "head in the sand" policies.

2. (SBU) While scrupulously avoiding the term "carbon tax," Dion
asserted that the Liberals would overhaul Canada's tax system in a
revenue-neutral fashion to "create competitive advantages by
lowering taxes on ... income, innovation, savings, and investment
... and shift those taxes to the things we want less of-pollution,
greenhouse gas emissions, smog, and waste." Dion said this shift
would unleash a "moral dynamic" in the economy that would help
middle-class Canadians better provide for future generations.

3. (SBU) Dion, switching between his native French and grammatical,
but difficult to understand English, also outlined his
qualifications to serve as prime minister, saying he would make the
country "richer, fairer, and greener." As an example of his
leadership under difficult circumstances, he pointed to his role in
strengthening Canadian federalism as the minister responsible for
securing the passage of the Clarity Act, which details the
requirements for federal acceptance of any Quebec sovereignty
referendum and has left Dion deeply unpopular in his native
province.

4. (SBU) COMMENT: Dion's speech, an awkward cross between a
campaign speech and detailed policy presentation, failed to ignite
the crowd of Toronto business leaders and over a dozen Toronto-area
Liberal MPs. His remarks drew scattered applause, and a delayed,
reluctant standing ovation. A staffer for former Liberal PM Paul
Martin told Poloff that he would have preferred a more defined time
frame for an election, and that the speech did little to dispel
perceptions among Liberals that Dion is a weak leader.
Interestingly, Dion did not touch on foreign policy issues,
including Canada's presence in Afghanistan. END COMMENT.

NAY

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