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Carbon tax idea seemingly gaining support across Canada.

Debate has been extensive over the past couple of weeks over whether the Liberals and Dion were suicidal over publicly committing to a carbon tax, or whether they were being visionary and the policy would be accepted by the public. A poll just commissioned by the Pembina Institute and reported on in the media over the weekend shows that the public just may be ahead of the curve on this, and that Dion and the Liberals certainly have fertile ground for their policy to be an electoral winner:

When told that the government of British Columbia had recently introduced “a carbon tax on fossil fuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” 72 per cent of those surveyed in the poll said that this was a positive step versus 23 per cent who thought that it was a negative step…”The support for B.C.’s carbon tax is fairly uniform across Canada,” he said. “Six out of 10 people definitely support it when you look at the numbers.” The strongest support for a carbon tax appears to come from Quebec and the Atlantic provinces where 81 per cent and 77 per cent of respondents respectively said that the B.C. tax was a positive step.

Those are great numbers to begin with, but here’s a part of the poll question that might be some bonus good news for the Liberals: the public may be very flexible on the idea of this carbon tax being revenue-neutral:

The Liberals have not yet explained details of their plan, apart from pledging to come up with a “revenue neutral” policy that would not increase the overall tax burden on individuals. However, when asked how revenues from a proposed federal carbon tax should be spent, most Canadians told the polling firm that they would prefer to see more green spending, rather than income tax cuts. For example, 47 per cent said that the new potential revenues should be spent on “renewable energy like wind and solar power” and 16 per cent said they wanted to see more spending on “energy efficiency technologies.” Only 11 per cent of respondents said carbon tax revenues should be used to cut income taxes, while eight per cent said it should be spent on public transit.

If polling confirms that Canadians are receptive to funding these rather then just have the money returned to them in income tax cuts, that may embolden the Liberals to get very “visionary” in what they propose when they finally release details to the public on what their carbon tax plan entails.

Personally, I’ve never had a fretting attack over some fearing that the Liberals have not released the full details of the plan yet to the public and therefore they’d allow the other parties to scuttle the plan before it was even released. It’s rather hard to scuttle a plan when you have no details to attack, other then the NDP and Cons. charging this would raise gas prices. So far, that attack has had no leverage amongst the public by the looks of things.

Furthermore, as Steve mentioned, Michael Ignatieff was on QP this weekend and said the policy was still being formulated and details being worked out. I have no problem with the Liberal strategy as long as they are indeed working out the kinks and vetting this plan with environmental groups, economists, and other concerned groups, and lining them all up so that they will have a wide variety of non-partisan groups publicly supporting this carbon tax plan on whatever day they decide to release the specifics of it. The initial waiting on details has also not hurt them in the political or PR sense: having David Suzuki and Elizabeth May the past 2 weeks publicly endorse the idea of a carbon tax – 2 people whose opinions on the subject of the environment will be taken very seriously and credibly by the Canadian public – will help bolster the idea amongst the public for this proposal before and once its released (On a side note, I’d love to see Suzuki at the Liberal press conference publicly endorsing this as he sits beside Dion).

The devil is in the details of course, but first impressions amongst the public seem positive. It may very well be that the public is ahead of the curve on this carbon tax proposed policy, and I look forward to seeing the details.


12 comments to Carbon tax idea seemingly gaining support across Canada.

  • timyho

    Anyone who can’t see a carbon tax as a totally redundant catch22 is kidding themselves. And I really can’t believe the greenies are falling for it.

    Here’s the catch…

    Everything in life as we know it is touched by crude oil energy in some way. If you walk to the gardening store to pick up seeds to plant your veggies, guaranteed a big ‘ol diesel burning truck dropped them off there and your seeds cost more because of it. So since that will never change as long as there is diesel, the inflationary effect of carbon taxes will just get the picket signs polished up as a demand for higher wages kicks in. And over and over. By the way, there is no near term pure clean energy source for hauling products and people. Go figure, politicians introducing a job for themselves.

  • Whooee! I’m a rural guy. Not even a taxi in my little burg. I pay income tax and I understand the meaning of “revenue neutral.” Bring on the carbon tax. At least I’ll be able to reduce my taxes while I also reduce my reliance on fossil fuels.

    My shack needs new windows and doors. If I’m gonna save some taxes as well as save some money on heat, I’ll be more inclined to go shoppin’. Say… ain’t that what GWB prescribes — shoppin’?


  • Ted

    1. A carbon tax must include a fuel tax.
    2. It will further divide rural vs. urban, ask any rural person how they depend on fuel. Public transportation is not an option in these parts. Dion will have a tough time to win these votes, he already has the urban vote!

  • slg

    The absolute fury from the CPC and NDP over this makes you want to consider it – it must have something to it or they wouldn’t be in such panic mode.

    They don’t even know the whole plan yet and the spinners are running overtime…hmmm – must be something to it.

  • “I have great difficulty believing that only 11 per cent of respondents said carbon tax revenues should be used to cut income taxes.”

    Of course you do, your biased against the idea in the first place.

  • tori

    pembina’s mission statement:

    “The Pembina Institute envisions a world
    in which our immediate and future needs
    are met in a manner that protects
    the earth’s living systems;
    ensures clean air, land and water;
    prevents dangerous climate change,
    and provides for a safe and just global community”

    and they come out with a poll tha suggest people are in favor of a carbon tax? Go figure.

  • Whooee! I find the poll results encouraging and like Pogge, I think they reflect an overall growing concern for the environment coupled with a realization and acceptance of a certain amount of personal responsibility. Big oil pollutes because consumers demand gasoline. Coal-fired generators pollute because consumers want air-conditioning. The auto industry pollutes because people have created a car culture.

    We are starting to get it. Like Jack says, big corporations are responsible for 50% of all GHG’s. Who’s responsible for the other 50%? We are and we know it.

    In the Sunday Sun, Dumbass Lorrie Goldstein asked a dumb question. He asked if the tax shift was such a good idea, how come nobody’d ever thought of it before? He never heard of the Green Party. We been talking tax shift and carbon tax for years.

    Pogge sez “that people are way ahead of the politicians on this.” Way ahead of some politicians, Pog. The gal I adore, Earth Mother Lizzie May, is in sync with the people, sez I.


  • all government manufactured crises can be used as a way to consolidate and grow government power. never believe government is here to help when there is no evidence to support that theory. it is one of those truism like the purpose of the legal system is to enrich lawyers. Justice is an occasional, accidental by product.

  • When you dropped this link off in my comments last night, I responded there and again in a fresh post. To reiterate, this poll didn’t present people with a variety of ways to combat climate change and allow them to express a preference so I think it’s disingenuous to interpret this as support for Dion’s specific policy.

    What the poll does show, as you correctly point out, is that people are way ahead of the politicians on this. They’re wondering why nothing’s happening.

    People can complain about Pembina’s agenda all they like but the questions were pretty straightforward and the response is in line with what other polls have shown: a majority of Canadians are prepared to pay taxes if it gets them the society they want whether it’s a well-functioning single payer health care system or a clean environment.

  • Yes please Mr. Dion! Please raise the cost of my home heating fuel! Please increase the cost of the gasoline I put in my car to drive to work and get my kids to the Day Care! Please – please – please take as much money as you possibly can from me and I acknowledge that some time, after a few years, your officials will perhaps come up with some minimal token tax adjustment that you will declare has ‘evened things out’!

    I am positive that Liberals have clearly captured the sentiments of working Canadians on this topic! (not) Good luck in the next election!!

  • Joseph

    You got to be a little bit fair here, Scott. The Pembina Institute did this poll, and they are hardly impartial on this subject.

    It is almost like the Ipsos polls that always give a 10 point lead to the Conservatives.

  • I have great difficulty believing that only 11 per cent of respondents said carbon tax revenues should be used to cut income taxes. We’ve got rising inflation, food prices are skyrocketing, people are driving away without paying at the pumps, cats and dogs living together… nope, this poll is bogus.

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