Better a lean agreement than a fat lawsuit

Michael Ignatieff doesn't like Harper's softwood lumber deal.

KAMLOOPS, B.C. -- Federal Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says he doesn't like Canada's softwood lumber deal with the United States but he's not sure re-opening the agreement would do any good.

Ignatieff told a town hall meeting in Kamloops on Thursday that reopening the two-year-old deal might only create a lot of work for lawyers with no guarantee for helping the forest sector out of its economic slump.

"I'm being very straight with you; I know this is not a good deal," he said.
I'm not sure what standard Iggy is using to say "this is not a good deal", particularly in the middle of B.C. forest country. After all, the softwood lumber deal alone should have been enough to give Harper a majority in 2008: this has been an issue since 1982. Canada has fought to international courts, and trade hearings, and what has that gotten us? The Americans just ignore any ruling they don't like. George W. Bush's government ignored rulings they didn't like. Bill Clinton's government ignored rulings they didn't like.

In the end, Harper reached an agreement that didn't give either side everything they wanted (as all agreements do), but in the end Canada got $4 billion of the $5.3 billion we were owed back. Ignatieff says that he wishes that we got all $5.3. No shit Sherlock. Of course, just saying you want the money somebody owes you doesn't bring it to you. In the end, the post title's old adage came into play: we got most of what we were owed from an organization that was perfectly willing to pay us nothing. In negotiations, there's something called a BATNA (no relation to NAFTA): the best alternative to a settlement. This is your proverbial "ace in the hole" (though in the commonly understood sense of the term this isn't how you treat it). In the event of no softwood lumber agreement, the Americans simply keep $5.3 billion (back when the U.S. government cared about $0.0053 trillion dolalrs).

This is a good thing, and that Harper and Bush allegedly did it all in one half hour phone call speaks to Harper's skill (and Bush's easygoing nature). Naturally Ignatieff has to trash it. What would he have done? (Answer: not as well, which is why he vows not to reopen it. The way the U.S. Treasury is going these days, they'd find some way to charge us $5.3 billion instead of owe it)
The Liberal leader said he also opposes increasing the GST, saying that might snuff out efforts to restore the economy.

On the environment, the Ignatieff said his party is moving away from the carbon tax that got such a negative reception in last fall's national election.

"We took the carbon tax to the public and the public didn't think it was such a good idea," he said.

"I'm trying to get myself elected here and if the public, after mature consideration think that's the dumbest thing they've ever heard then I've got to listen."
A Liberal's GST promise doesn't carry much weight anymore Mr. Ignatieff, its a shame your answer couldn't somehow acknowledge that. It was interesting to hear him label what Suzuki et al. referred to as "the dumbest thing they've ever heard".