Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Does it not matter that the carbon tax won’t work?

Reading BCer in TO today gives you some idea of how-hard-done-by Liberals feel about columnist Chantal Hebert.

For their part, New Democrats have reason to be disappointed with her column today in which she scolds the party for giving a voice to people who care about the environment but want a better plan than Dion’s clumsy carbon tax.

With the greatest of respect, Hebert’s argument has fallen head-long into the Liberal talking points which, to paraphrase, say “if you don’t want what we want, you are spooning with Harper and more than likely hate puppies.”

Does it not matter that the carbon tax won’t work? Is it not legitimate discourse to say “our plan is better than yours” and provide evidence as to why?

Imagine for a moment that instead of a carbon tax, Dion’s answer to climate change was to build a time machine so that he could go back to 1993 and convince the Chretien cabinet to reduce carbon emissions like they had promised in that year’s election.

Sure it’s a plan, and sure it’s different from what Stephen Harper will do. But if a New Democrat stood up and said “It’s expensive, incredibly risky and likely won’t work to meet the tough targets laid out in C-377, Layton’s Climate Change Accountability Act” does it then follow that this person is against the environment and playing politics? Of course not. Get real.

It’s the exact same with the carbon tax. For years the debate in Canada has been about how much to reduce carbon emissions and when – does it not matter at all that the Liberal carbon tax has nothing to say on this whatsoever? Of course it does. It’s critical.

Only two years ago, Stephane Dion was the leading critic of carbon taxes. He said, quite rightly, that they couldn’t be proven to work given 90 cent a litre gas at the time and would be an irrelevant “nuisance” to big polluters who would keep polluting through boom times. His points are even more correct with 150 cent gas today. Yet who accused him of playing politics or helping Harper? No one.

Canadians who care about the environment but want a better plan than an imprecise carbon tax to “stick” Canadians into getting new light bulbs while the big polluters continue business as usual – people like like former Liberal leader Bill Graham and Liberal environmentalist Désirée McGraw - deserve to have the NDP advocating on their behalf.

The clearest distinctions are not between the main two parties, but between Layton and the others. The NDP leader is the only one of the three who actually has a long track record of implementing green solutions – wind power, deep water cooling of buildings, as well as having secured $900 million for transit from Paul Martin while Stephane Dion sat as environment minister.

As he is on so many other issues, Jack Layton is a recognized leader on the environment and real leadership is what we need right now.


Anonymous said...


McGraw was saying these things before the green shift policy was brought out as a platform. The Liberal party policy of today is not the same as when Desiree wrote her policy paper.

You seem to have not paid attention to Lynn McDonald's op-ed on the carbon tax. As an environment critic for your party when Mulroney was PM, she is the one advocating proactive solutions. For a party that is on the forefront of smoke-free workplaces, using populist rhetoric calling for lower gas prices does not help the working class that is choking on dirty air.

Not this time and not now, is the NDP's response. That is not what the recent Decima poll says. Canadians are ready to make sacrifices for the environment, and the carbon tax is one.

Red Snapper said...

"Not this time and not now, is the NDP's response"

Er -Mushroom - have you VISITED the NDP website?? I think it's pretty obvious to anyone literate and not sporting Liberal Oblivia 2000 3-D glasses that the NDP is saying "This time let's not just say we're going to do something then sit on our asses, let's do it NOW"
Unlike Dion's plan, Layton's bill has actual measurable targets and timelines to cut emissions.
The NDP plan is based on science - not false hope.

Blogging Horse said...

Mushroom says: McGraw was saying these things before the green shift policy was brought out as a platform.

In other words, the expert opinion of the environmentalist Liberals hired is irrelevant, because Dion's carbon tax is all about politics -- not good policy for the environment.

Thanks for clearing that up.

Anonymous said...

Desiree McGraw is a partisan Liberal. She was presenting to leadership candidate Stephane Dion an environmental policy that she feels will overcome the years of neglect on this file. McGraw will support the carbon tax 100 per cent and will be happy that Dion is taking concrete steps to cut carbon emissions.

This is getting the facts right, not making assertions.

Blogging Horse said...

Mushroom: Yes, McGraw is a partisan Liberal, but she's also an environment expert. In both capacities she was commissioned by the Liberal Party to head a taskforce to renew the party's evironment policies.

At the end of her consultations (with Liberals, ENGOs, and the likes of Elizabeth May) she concluded that "Canada does not need both an emissions trading system and a carbon tax; either one would be sufficient, so long as the cap is low enough to ensure emission reductions or the carbon tax is high enough to do the same. Following extensive and intensive input from Taskforce contributors, this report opts for the former approach."

McGraw is right. Cap and trade will get the job done, while a carbon tax won't, and Canada doesn't need both.

Why Dion has ignored this expert's advice is for him to explain.

Jaytoo said...

Horse, it's not just that we don't need both. We also can't practically expect both in the urgent timeframe that's staring us all down. We've got to choose one and push hard. And as you say, only the carbon market can assure (not just hope for) those fast results.

There was opposition consensus behind that better approach. Dion broke that to go out solo on the less promising approach. This has nothing to do with green results and everything to do with trying to change the channel on "Weak Leader." And in the new narrative he dreams of seeding -- Dion Shift vs. Harper Shit -- there is no carbon market (beyond Harper's intensity-based sham).

The partisans protest that a carbon market can be part of Dion's plan too. (What, like pharamacare and childcare were part of the 1993 plan?) Let's get real.

Who believes that any theoretical future Lib government would layer a carbon market on top of the preciously-branded carbon tax? For that matter, who believes they'd do what's needed to give even the carbon tax a shot at working? Dion himself admits that $40/ton won't cut it -- his own forecasts show zero carbon reductions at that level. And we're supposed to believe any old-line government is going to associate itself with repeatedly increasing an existing carbon tax to finally get emission reductions?

GS(TM) is pure political gambit. No one should be surprised to see the Lib partisans playing this out with some gusto. But shame on those pundits who are being played by them so uncritically.