In mid Blo-vate, Sun columnist Neil Waugh notes this morning that Stephane Dion's recently announced "carbon budget" is:
... basically the same deal Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach will impose on what he calls the province's "specified gas emitters" starting July 1. They will have to reduce their "emissions intensity" by 12% or start paying a $15-a-tonne carbon tax into a technology fund.
So if the Dion plan is a carbon tax, which Waugh insists it is, then the Alberta plan is a carbon tax, and Ka Ching Ka Ching, Dion has political cover. Because, just as you can't be holier than the Pope, you can't be more Conservative than Alberta. So if a carbon tax is okay with Alberta, then Conservatives elsewhere in Canada should be prepared to eat a carbon tax. It will be very difficult to tar Dion's proposals as radical (although no doubt many will try).
And guess what? Environment Minister John Baird has been making Kyoto-like noises recently! We're apparently not pulling out of the treaty! We will "honour" our responsibilities! And now Canadian companies may be able to meet their targets through foreign investment, a la something like Kyoto's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Furthermore, while there is no word yet on how Baird will enforce his "mandatory" emissions targets for industry, unless he intends to rely on harsh language, you can bet it will be through some scheme very much like Alberta's. So the Federal government will, over the next couple of weeks, propose a carbon tax.
Whoo hoo, baby, the Socialist in my heart is dancing naked through the streets!
But here's the thing. If everybody is going to be proposing a carbon tax, what's the difference between the various plans? Well, Dion is proposing hard, absolute emissions caps. After burnishing his law and order credentials, he is now getting TOUGH on polluters. Meanwhile, Harper's intensity caps, which will kick in a few decades down the road sometime, has gone SOFT on the people who are murdering our planet!
Not bad positioning, should an election be called in the next couple of weeks.