Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sorry....I was remiss

I mentioned that I gave Stephen Dion four documents last night at Garth Turner's event in Oakville.

Below is the fourth of those documents which presents my views on how the Liberals need to start messaging the income trust issue.....notice the date:

Garth billed the event as an “idea” session.....think of this is my contribution to the Liberal Party. No tax receipt required:

From: Brent Fullard
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2007 07:41:53 -0400
To: Herb Metcalf, Andrew Bevan John McCallum, Jim Peterson ,Garth Turner , Scott Brison , John McKay Senator Grafstein , Paul Szabo
Cc: Ralph Goodale

Subject: The Liberal's Messaging on Income Trusts

As a person who has spent an inordinate amount of time on this issue (pro bono) and someone who has been proven correct in his predictions (I wasn’t the only one) about the impact of this policy and its many far reaching effects, please allow me to provide you with some unsolicited advice:

In my opinion, your “messaging” on income trusts is in need of work, as evidenced by Dion’s speech in Edmonton yesterday (income trust excerpts below) . In my opinion this messaging is dated and stale and does not resonate with “the larger audience”. Believe me when I say “Who really cares about restoring two thirds of investors’ lost savings apart from the investors themselves?”.

That messaging of restoring two thirds of the lost value yours was great for February 13, 2007, the day you announced your policy position of a 10% tax. It is clearly not great today, as it ignores all the corroborating events that have occurred since that time all of which are god sends to our cause and in making our/your case . This current messaging will gain you as many voters as it lose voters, witness the editorials following the Calgary consultation a few weeks ago. You gave the press nothing new or substantive to ruminate over, apart from the fact that you were consulting with affected parties which was then cynically portrayed by the press in strictly political terms. You didn’t attack the core falsehoods of this policy or make the direct causal link to takeovers. You didn’t mention the blacked out documents released under ATI. The government’s tax leakage analysis is clearly wrong in that it leaves out 38% of the taxes paid on income trusts. It’s a proven and verifiable fact. You know that, I know that. This is a scandal that is being masked. Who benefits from that?

You have to elevate this issue to the level where all Canadians realize this is negative to them and their children's and grand children's’ futures. That’s easy: loss of sovereignty, loss of general tax revenue. The evidence is firmly in place. Use it. Connect the dots. We’re not making this stuff up or falsely portraying how our issue so readily morphs into vastly larger issues and themes like accountability, transparency, sovereignty, lost tax revenues, hollowing out, betrayal at the hands of government, hidden agenda, gross inequities (pension plan carve out), gross ineptitude (BCE, Prime West) etc.

Make the policy connection. People need to have their “entrenched” views, which have only been established by resonating “intuitive” rhetoric, challenged through the process of “cognitive dissonance” using known facts and subsequent events. Cognitive dissonance is the only way people will rethink their current view on something. People need to be challenged with an “outlier observation” which is inconsistent with their world view and you then offer them an alternative explanation for the entire ball of wax. There are a vast number of “outlier” observations in our quiver. For example, 7 of the 25 largest takeovers of the last 5 years have occurred in the mere 11 months that this policy has been in existence and as a direct consequence of this policy. Many other foreign takeovers will follow. The arguments against this policy are endless.

Which Canadian is unaware about what the reasons for Harper’s shut down of income trusts were?(BCE and Telus), and what ultimately happened in the short space of 8 months (private equity takeout of BCE and the LOSS of $793 million a year in taxes)? How many Canadians think selling our energy to the middle east is a good idea? Prime West is a trust......hmm? Cognitive dissonances takes the form of 18 pages of blacked out documents, BCE going private in face of denial to become a trust. Abu Dhabi purchase of Prime West, Prentice’s non announcement about foreign takeovers maybe yes maybe no solely designed to chill the takeovers without addressing the issue itself and designed simply to avoid further embarrassments from Abu Dhabi’s #2 through 250.

The Liberal party simply needs to appeal to the enormous base of support that is latent in the minds of Canadians. Latent yet visceral concerns about issues like foreign takeovers (72% of Canadians concerned according to recent poll). Canadians innate oncerns about accountability and transparency of government as viscerally conjured up by 18 pages of blacked out documents (92% of Canadian think its wrong – Angus Reid poll).

Play to Harper’s weaknesses and attack his presumed strengths. Is there a hidden agenda with this man? (blacked out documents)! Is he a strong leader? ( Abu Dhabi yes/no!) Does he make good policy decisions? (BCE?) Can he be trusted ( income trust mother of all lies). These questions don’t even have to be explicitly asked. When faced with the evidence in the proper way and framed in the correct context, people will ask these questions of themselves. What is more powerful than that?

This issue is a gold mine that is not being mined properly, less so to make a point about the income issue per se, but for you to make the larger issues that resonate with every voter and not just a handful of voters. Our country. Our democracy.

Let me know if you disagree. I would like to help in any way I can, hence our desire to align our campaign spending with yours for maximum “Liberal” effect. We have a huge vested interest in seeing the Liberals form the next government. So too the entire population, they just need to know why. A lot of good food is going to waste.

Brent Fullard
President and CEO
Canadian Association of Income Trust Investors

647 505-2224 (cell)


Robert Gibbs said...


All excellent points!

Perhaps 'Duty Dan' has found you that 'new job' - a political strategist.

EhBC said...

Brent, yet again I am absolutely in awe of your knowledge, comprehension, and eloquence. My heartfelt thanks for your prodigious efforts on our behalf.

Not positive, but I don't think I have ever voted Liberal in my life, and when I first voted it was Diefenbaker against Pearson. I am now a card carrying Liberal and will do everything I possibly can to ensure your excellent advice to them is followed.



Anonymous said...


Great points. Thanks.

On another note, has anyone else noticed the marked improvement in Stephane Dion's English? I hope I am not deluding myself.