Too many people have been telling The Libs to bail on the environment as an issue: the Tories have "neutralized" it, and so forth. So I am glad to see that Stephane Dion has chosen to ignore this advice, and has chosen today to release a portion of his environmental strategy. I am also glad to see that he is going the Tories one step further and demanding hard emissions caps from Canada's top 700 polluters:
If the Liberals were in power, they would introduce absolute caps on emissions, not intensity-based targets as the Conservatives propose, Dion said.
“An absolute emissions cap or ‘carbon budget’ of our 1990 emissions level minus six per cent -- our Kyoto target -- will come into effect on January 1, 2008 for the three largest industrial emitting sectors --electricity generation, upstream oil and gas and energy intensive industries,” the policy paper reads.
The sector-based caps will be used to allocate an annual carbon budget to each big industrial emitter in those three sectors and they will have to live within that budget. If they don’t, they will have to pay to pollute, says the Liberal plan.
The companies that exceed their carbon budget would be forced to pay $20 (increasing to $30 by 2011) for every extra tonne of carbon dioxide they emit. The money would go into a fund called a Green Investment Account that will be created for each company and the cash would be held in trust.
You don't "lay claim" to an issue by abandoning it the first time someone raises their voice against you, TDH, and it isn't how you shake the label of "flip-flopper" either, if that's the label they're trying to stick on you. Rather, you do what Mr. Dion has been doing the last several weeks, which is to lay out his priorities in other areas to show that he is not the "one trick pony" that some have claimed, and then WHAMMO! return to the issue he has made central to his leadership. To employ a boxing metaphor, you use your jab to set up your knock-out punch.
What I think people like TDH haven't figured out yet is that this issue will not go away. He seems to feel, like blogging Tory Stephen Taylor (in a post I am unable to locate), that pretty soon we will get back to the "normal" plate of political issues that the major parties have been humping to death for so many years. But that ain't gonna happen. There's a new player at the table. The environment as a global issue has only increased in prominence over the past couple of months, and with bold and (relatively) concrete actions happening on both the provincial and international stage, this is a perfect time to take a stand that will reveal Harper's mealy mouthed proposals in the Clean Air Act to be the sham that they are.