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Election 1 yr away; Battle on Carbon Pricing Favors Liberals

We have seen Conservative Governments in Ontario and Saskatchewan balk at carbon pricing and the Federal Conservatives basically trying to use the old “tax on everything line” they used with success against Stephane Dion’s Green Shift a decade ago, cancelling climate change fighting programs and/or failing to offer (viable) alternatives.

At the moment, the governing Federal Liberal Party’s climate change plan appears to give them both the moral high ground on fighting climate change, as well as a factor in popular support.

Two polls to point to to show this: Innovative Research published this poll on the Federal Liberal Carbon Tax (views in Ontario specifically) and highlighted it on Twitter. […]


Stephane Dion and his Green Shift are vindicated. More Hard Work needed though.

Vindication took eight years, but it finally showed up for Stephane Dion:

“The government proposes that the price on carbon pollution should start at a minimum of $10 per tonne in 2018, rising by $10 each year to $50 per tonne in 2022.”

And then the kicker.

“If neither a price nor cap-and-trade system is in place by 2018, the Government of Canada would implement a price in that jurisdiction.”

When the prime minister concluded his remarks, Stéphane Dion left his seat and walked over to shake Trudeau’s hand.


This was extremely gratifying to read as someone who attended the 2008 Liberal Convention, witnessed Stephane Dion’s victory, and became […]


Conservatives own secret study supports a carbon tax.

This was first brought to my attention on Friday by a Green Blogger pointing out that the Green Party had used the Access to Information Act to reveal a secret Conservative government study that shows the economic costs of a carbon tax in Canada starting at 50$/ton are not only negligible to the economy in the first few years, but show a net positive for a carbon tax in raising Canada’s gross domestic product:

The report supports a carbon tax as an effective way to make significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and concludes that a $50/tonne tax on carbon would have an insignificant impact on the Canadian economy and would open tremendous economic opportunities. The model estimates this carbon tax shift would cut emissions by about 36 megatonnes (MT) by 2010, 59 MT by 2015 and 114 MT by 2030.. The report – Cost Curves for Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction in Canada: The Kyoto Period and Beyond – concludes that the GDP impact of a $50/tonne tax shift is less than 0.1% of GDP per year until 2010, is virtually zero during the next five years and is then positive after 2015. Further, the report projects net financial savings to those who take action as a result of the tax shift, after taking into account the investment in emissions reductions. At $50 per tonne, that windfall comes to $13.8 billion by 2010 and climbs from there.

You can understand why Harper and the Cons would hide this report, and why it would take a Freedom Of Information Act request to reveal it. This story has gotten many, many bloggers discussing the secret report and the Conservatives hypocrisy in not releasing it.

It has even got Senator Elaine Mccoy, the independent Progressive Conservative Senator from Alberta, writing today about the deceit of the Conservative government in hiding this report from Canadians. She also calls this government report on the carbon tax “very credible”.

If I were a media person, I might ask Harper or Environment Minister John Baird (if they can find him – he seems to have disappeared since the election call) their reaction to this report. Obviously, they didn’t like the conclusions if they decided to try and hide it. I might also remind them that Baird and Jason Kenney are on record as refusing to release the details (about the cost to consumers) of their so-called environmental plan until after the election. I might be asking if that’s really acceptable to be hiding such crucial details from the public during an election campaign. If the Conservatives are going to fear-monger over the Green Shift, when their own government report says a carbon tax higher then what the Liberals are currently proposing isn’t going to hurt the economy and indeed will eventually raise Canada’s GDP, they need to be called out on it. Furthermore, the simple questions to ask them are:

Where are your environmental plan’s details?
What are your plan’s proposed costs?
Why are you trying to hide them or not release them until after the election?

Canadians and the media at large should demand that the Conservatives put out the details of their environmental plan of what types of costs to consumers will be incurred by them under the Conservative plan to cut emissions of GHG. It is only fair, so we can compare the plans and allow Canadians to make a choice based on facts and statistics, rather then letting the Conservatives continue to fear-monger by saying stuff like Harper claiming the Green Shift will harm national unity, or even more ridiculous stuff like Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant claiming that the Liberals under the Green Shift would ban or tax firewood.

Demand the details.


This attack ad stuff gets better and better

Ha ha. Check out this statement issued by Spacing Toronto that Kady O’Malley points to that shows what the Cons. are trying to do with these gas pump electronic attack ads against Dion and the Liberals may not even be legal, at least in Toronto:

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have tried over and over to brand itself the chief defender of law and order in this country. But yesterday, when it launched its latest round of attack ads on the Liberals, the Conservative Party used illegal advertising space to get its message out, according to the co-ordinator of

The Conservatives didn’t just use a single illegal video screen to play the fiercely partisan advertisement. co-ordinator Rami Tabello told Spacing that every single screen that the spot is playing on at Toronto gas stations is illegal. According to media reports, gas station video screens are the primary vehicle for reaching Torontonians.

Ryan Sparrow didn’t happen to come up with  this idea,  by any chance?

[email protected]:56pm: And now, the idea whether it’s legal or not seems to have gone DOA before it even starts:

Fuelcast, the company that operates the ad system, said Monday it won’t run the Conservative ads at the pumps because it has a policy against political advertising.

Again I ask, was this Ryan Sparrow’s idea? Or Jason Kenny’s brainstorm?

UPDATE [email protected]:51pm: And now, we find out from Kady that the Cons are claiming via the aforementioned Mr. Sparrow that the Cons. have a “binding” agreement with Fuelcast, and the company is expected to honour the agreement.  So if Fuelcast refuses, will the Cons. sue em? I mean, they’ve shown themselves to be a rather litigious lot when it comes to suing their political opponents – I can’t see why they wouldn’t go after a private company – particularly as it involves their partisan political propaganda strategy (try saying that phrase quickly).


There must not be a lot of work for Cons. staffers right now.

I’m guessing that’s who’ve they’ve got roaming around Ottawa today:

..teams of Tory kids in yellow T-shirts have fanned out across downtown Ottawa to hand out post cards critiquing the Dion carbon tax thingie.

I guess they saw the Young Liberals doing this during the Cadman affair, and they figured it would be a pretty cool idea too.. which would be good if they had an actual youth wing of the Conservative Party (which they don’t) so my suspicion it’s Cons staffers.

I’m also suspecting these are Conservatives staffers because they’ve got their pre-programmed parrot lines down to a tee, from what Kady says.

[email protected]:30pm: Steve Marsh, who had a good blog here but has not been blogging of late, informs Paul Wells what are on these post-cards that the Cons kiddies/staffers are handing out:

Having seen the postcard, I can state that “critique” is far to generous a description of what it’s trying to do. It’s a collection of clippings laid out to look like they’re from a wide variety of sources, although in fact there are only three: a Sun Media editorial, an article from the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation and a quote from NDP leader Jack Layton, who must be very proud to be in such company.


The attack ads on the carbon tax shift begins. Arm yourselves! (with facts)

My title partly derives from the fact I was watching a movie last night called “The Last Legion” and felt in that sort of mood today when reading that the Conservative attack ads against the Liberals proposed carbon tax shift has begun; willingly aided  by the Toronto Sun – no surprise there (By the way, congrats to Jason for being thought of as relevant enough to warrant getting mentioned in a Conservative attack website. I’m sure he’ll put that on his belt buckle of achievements).

I actually agree with part of what the Sun and Lorrie Goldstein said as highlighted by Steve over at his blog that the Tories are very worried about this plan if they’re going to such lengths already to attack it before the details and meat of the plan have even been released, and that without having a plan of their own to point to, the Cons. could be vulnerable (that’s Lorrie’s wording, I agree with Steve – they WILL be vulnerable).

I also agree with Danielle that it’s going to be very easy to point to the utter hypocrisy John Baird and the Cons. have on this file toward a carbon tax. They could barely come up with a response to British Columbia implementing it, but now when Dion and the Federal Liberals propose something along the same vein,  “ITS A TAX ON EVERYTHING!” suddenly is the Conservatives fear mongering cry.

What I will say however to Liberal strategists and advisers is that it’s a lot easier to defend this if we actually have specifics to point to, rather then generalities. I realize Garth Turner is doing the best he can with what he knows or is allowed to talk about, but the public and the media and the bloggers need more.

The OLO or the media affairs wing of the Liberals needs to be told that, if they aren’t aware of it already. The Cons are already trying to define to the public in an unfavourable light what a terrible thing a carbon tax is. I realize it’s rather silly to be attacking a plan when all it is right now is a concept, not an official meat and potatoes policy, and I realize the last couple of polls shows the majority of Canadians seem to approve of the implementation of a carbon tax (hence the Cons. attempting to go nuclear now) but the risk is still there that without having any details on the plan, the issue gets defined negatively.

Let’s get the policy details out in the public NOW and have a full throated debate about the merits of this plan based on its specifics, so we can rebut the Cons. propaganda and fear mongering over this concept, which is all it is right now.  Let’s not wait until the general election – whenever that is. (and I am by the way a member of that Facebook group that Jim mentioned – I still believe we should be forcing an election now whether its in the summer time or not, but thats another story).

I believe the fear has been that if we release specifics now , the Cons. will copy it or attack it. Well, they’re already attacking without specifics, which is I think more dangerous,  and we have no fear they will copy this idea, so let’s get the debate over the idea on a level playing field so we have a fair fight here.

UPDATE: Remember when Al Gore warned about Harper back in 2006? Looks like his warnings have come true:

Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore has accused the oil industry of financially backing the Tories and their “ultra-conservative leader” to protect its stake in Alberta’s lucrative oilsands. Canadians, Gore said, should vigilantly keep watch over prime minister-designate Stephen Harper because he has a pro-oil agenda and wants to pull out of the Kyoto accord — an international agreement to combat climate change.

I’m thinking John Baird regrets trying to claim that Gore approved of the Coservatives so-called climate change plan to fight so-called greenhouse gases when he attempted that stunt last year. (H/T Jeff)


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,” […]


Defining the issue before the other folks define it for you.

I’m going to write about today’s Chantal Hebert column without taking potshots at her, because she’s actually talking about Dion without taking potshots at him – a rarity since Dion has become leader of the Liberals.

What I’m going to focus on from her column is whether Dion should make a carbon tax a key policy plank in the Liberals campaign or not, and that he needs to decide soon. I do agree with that; if we’re not going to have an election this June (and many of us, even those who are election hawks, are increasingly resigned to that), and Dion is going to go on a summer tour with key Liberals, then this policy needs to be pushed up front and centre and he and his spokespersons and surrogates are going to need to be out there on the circuit explaining what a carbon tax entails, and more specifically what it does NOT entail.

If Dion and the Liberals let this policy sit without proper explanation, that is what you’re going to see from the Conservatives – trying to equate it to a “gasoline tax”, when it is nothing of the sort.  There will not be a direct raise of gasoline prices because of any carbon tax implemented, and it will also involve lowering taxes in other areas; what is known as a tax shift.  But Ms. Hebert is correct when she says policy nuances like this get lost in the middle of an election campaign.

Start promoting it and explaining it now, or risk losing the spin war.  Choose BC and Quebec as the first 2 places to do the explaining too; both have implemented versions of it, both (if Ms. Hebert is accurate) have been well received there, and both are provinces where the Liberals have to win additional seats to win government.  I can’t think of 2 better provinces to start talking about this carbon tax proposal.

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