Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Carbon Tax Smokes Out NDP

"“We don't see putting a charge on the backs of individual Canadians through taxes as the way to go” sounds more like a quote from John Williamson than from Jack Layton. But that was the message from the NDP leader last week - one he's followed up with this almost McTeagueian campaign against high gas prices at the pumps.

The NDP is not about to jump in bed with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, at least not on a regular basis. But having apparently decided there's not enough to be gained from a fight with both the Liberals and the Greens for environmental votes, Layton is shifting toward a populism aimed at a different corner of the electorate."

As Radwinski suggests, the NDP seems willing to abandon its "urban activists" to reconnect with its lower income "roots".

Jerking around 1/2 of its base, in other words. Good luck with that.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

don't you know smoking is bad for your political health ?

Maggy nails it

"--MARGARET WENTE weighs in on Stéphane:

You have to admit that Mr. Dion's timing is amazing. Just as fuel prices spike to record highs and the heartland spirals toward a recession, he will set off across the country to sell us on the merits of a carbon tax (oops, "revenue shift"). Although the details are still sketchy, apparently this tax (or "shift") would be broad-based, and would include home-heating fuel and electricity. If only Mr. Dion opened his own heating bills, he might know why little old ladies on fixed incomes have gone into shock. Their heating bills have already shot up 30 per cent. My guess is that they will not want them to go higher.

"He's not a coward," says somebody who knows him well. That's for sure. Neither was General Custer. And the wrath of Crazy Horse wasn't much, compared to the brewing rage among the seniors' lobby. I'm sure those freshly laid-off auto workers in Oshawa will be eager to hear from him too. Perhaps he will persuade them that plunging auto sales are good for the planet. Now they can move to Toronto, get jobs in recycling plants, and take the TTC"

Robert McClelland said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
leftdog said...

How arrogant of Liberals to assume that the ONLY way to deal with these issues is with a 'Carbon Tax'. I've been reading Cherniak's spin on the Lib position - 'raise a big pot full of money from a carbon tax and use the money to lower taxes' ... more Liberal alchemy. Considering how solid Dion's position is at the head of the Liberal party, this issue is going to cause lots of infighting as we approach an election.

The current high market price of gas creates some conservation in that most motorists are trimming their use as it is.

As we get closer to an election, you can expect the NDP to advance viable, pragmatic polices that will leave Dion sputtering in his defence of even higher gas prices due to the Liberals proposed carbon tax.

Robert McClelland said...

the NDP seems willing to abandon its "urban activists"

Right, because as everyone knows there are no solutions beyond a carbon tax; except of course for all the other solutions that the NDP is still proposing.

Mark Richard Francis said...

This is why Greens and the NDP just don't get along politically. Even when they admit it, Dippers have a hard time dealing with the reality that to have lasting social justice you have to have environmental justice.

By way of example, the NDP in BC were more than pleased to use destructive logging practices (Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!). In Ontario, last year the NDP originally endorsed without question the logging industry's demands for changes in legislation. They later backed down. They also have called for subsidizing power costs to large manufacturers.

Dippers have an irrational aversion to using market forces, confusing them with capitalism. Though the two are intertwined, they are not the same thing. Market forces (the invisible hand) are simply an aspect of how we function socially, reflecting the need for effort to be rewarded with effort, or some currency representing effort. Capitalism is greed unleashed, and I have little good to say about it.

What haunts our economics more than anything right now is that external costs are not reflected in the price of things. Had we worked to ensure that such external costs were reflected in price, I think that our buying habits would have been historically quite different, leading us to a very different economy and life design.

Given the costs of global warming, would we have adopted the private car as the primary mode of personal transportation, and the truck as the primary mode of transporting goods? Would we have built countless acres of suburban homes over some of the best farmland in the world? And if prices truly reflected the long-term scarcity of non-renewable resources, would have even had relied on coal and oil for a fuel source for any length of time?

Environmental justice without social justice fails as well, as populations will always be willing to plunder the environment to survive.

The trick isn't to find a balance between the two. The trick is to satisfy both -- a tall order.

Tax-shifting is an attempt to start to account for external costs. I agree that the disadvantaged in our society who can’t afford price hikes need fiscal help (and I see such programs provincially), but we also must start to migrate away from using those very same non-renewable resources which causes low incomes groups such problems (I count myself among them).

I applaud many of the environmental initiatives by individual Dippers, but the instincts of that Party are wrong.

jaybird said...

We simply cannot ask poor and working Canadians to bear the brunt of the solutions to climate change on their backs. Will we all have to chip in, of course but it should be based on our abilities.
A carbon tax will have a devastating impact on those that can least afford it. Yes to environmental solutions and yes to social justice. They must go hand in hand and they must go together.
Why is it that the income gap has only gotten worse over the last 25 years? Why is it that food bank use has only increased in the last 25 years? It is because we have had successive Progressive Conservative, Liberal and Conservative governments that have implemented economic policies that that advantage corporations over people.
Canadians who have money will be able to cope with the rise in gas prices, heating prices and food costs but a majority of Canadians will be hurt by a carbon tax and a considerable number will be broken by this policy should it be enacted.
I have worked with poor people in Toronto and there are already seniors who can't afford the cost of heating their homes in the winter. Toronto area principals are already saying they need more funding so they can feed the children coming to school. I would imagine that this desperation exists in other communities across Canada.
If you make fixing the environment economically untenable for the majority of Canadians they will simply revolt. It would be more effective to implement policies that make greener energy cheaper than to make dirty energy more expensive. It will be better for the environment and the economy to focus on greening our industries.
Sticks for those that have the resilience to bear it and carrots for those who need them most. To find out more about the NDP policies that balance the environmental policy and social justice visit (www.ndp.ca).

Ti-Guy said...

"--MARGARET WENTE weighs in on Stéphane:

Yeah, I read the stupid bint this morning.

I wonder if she ever gets depressed knowing that only idiots agree with her?

The only thing Maggy nails would be her fat husband.

Koby said...

"the NDP seems willing to abandon its "urban activists" to reconnect with its lower income "roots".

And it is about time.

The NDP has been loosing support to the Libs and Greens inside the 416 and 905. That is the bad news. The good news is that outside of the 416 and 905 the NDP's main foe has and will remain the Conservatives and they do not seem to be fairing as badly.

The challenge for the NDP is can they take back voters that had abandoned them for the Reform Party in 1993 and have then gone on to vote Conservative in western provinces.

They should also look to fight it out with the Conservatives to pick up the Liberal votes that have slowly been bleeding away over the years to both themselves and the Conservatives in Northern Ontario.

KC said...

One has to wonder if the usual arguments in favour of a carbon tax ("higher prices will deter consumption") apply anymore. The price of gas just hit 1.38 here and I dont know anyone who has actually changed their habits yet. The carbon tax would need to be pretty big to make much of a difference for consumption.

Anonymous said...

"lasting social justice you have to have environmental justice"

Mark,

This is the American definition of environmental justice. Wilderness protection, greenhouse gas emission, and species protection are important issues. But the social justice proponents would argue how can we promote environmentalism without overcoming racism, sexism, and ineqality?

As a former Green supporter in my years living in Europe, my preference would be for the Greens to move beyond the natural capitalism promoted by the Rocky Mountain Institute and support the eco-socialism of many European states and the Green Party of Sask. However, I find the first past the post system makes it difficult for this political debate to be developed fully, thus making consensus for the carbon tax among progressives a bit more difficult to reach.

bigcitylib said...

Leftdog wrote:

"As we get closer to an election, you can expect the NDP to advance viable, pragmatic polices that will leave Dion sputtering in his defence of even higher gas prices..."

But for the time-being, we can expect doodly squat. Right?