Up front, lets admit that the skeptics were right; no matter what its advantages as policy, the Green Shift was a tax shift, and a tax shift contains the word "tax", and as such the whole idea was not saleable to too large a proportion of the Canadian electorate.
(As an aside, note that in the post above Kinsella writes:
Sifting through the entrails leaked out to the media, was I wrong to oppose a carbon tax right now? No way. I'm for punishing polluters, not consumers. Cap-and-trade; not this.
Warren knows that's all bullshit. You raise prices on polluters and they raise prices on the consumer that purchases their polluting service. Same person pays in the end. A C&T system is just a slightly more dishonest way of going about the process.
And lets admit up front that the Tories quite thoroughly mis-represented the GS .
Lets just consider it as policy.
As policy (and I say this as someone who loyally supported the GS while occasionally bringing up caveats), it was flawed in several respects.
For example, the idea that the GS was a wealth redistribution scheme contained an element of truth. Don't ask me; just ask (now ex-) Liberal MP Ken Boshcoff, who wrote that:
The Liberal Party’s Green Shift announced on June 19th marked the most aggressive anti-poverty program in 40 years. The ‘shift’ will transfer wealth from rich to poor, from the oil patch to the rest of the country, and from the coffers of big business to the pockets of low-income Canadians.
Now, Mr. Boshcoff didn't come out and actually say that the GS would send Alberta money East, but we all know where the "oil patch" is, don't we?
And as much I wouldn't mind seeing Alberta screwed out of its oily dough, for other reasons it always bothered me that the GS was not a purely environmental initiative. Environmental concerns were being used as an excuse to scare up funds for the broader Liberal platform, about which I personally had far more ambiguous feelings. I mean, my days as a compassionate Lefty are way past gone. I am far more worried these days about saving the bunnies than helping single-moms or the homeless. And I don't care who knows it. Animals are innocent; people are assholes. But whatever.
Similarly, it bothered me that the only sense in which the GS was "revenue neutral" was in the broader metaphoric sense, in that the Government would spend 1$ for each dollar the GS collected.
And the last thing that bothered me was the general laziness with which the plan was introduced. For example, I cheered when, in September, Dion tweaked the GS so as to assuage certain rural concerns over fuel, heating and other costs. But the fact (and I think Paul Wells pointed this out somewhere) that a Carbon Tax would effect certain regions of Canada more than others should have been obvious at the outset. Anyone with a slightest knowledge of the issue should have realized this. So the Dion Liberals offered a hugely complex green plan without having thought it all though, that none of their MPs ever really understood or could explain in detail, and then they went and changed it. The whole thing would have been a bit more bullet proof if these attempts at amelioration had been in the original version.
Personally, I was reminded of the whole Dion/Suzuki thing, where Dion, before he became Lib Leader even, produced a green policy document that contained cut-and-paste material from "The Air We Breathe" put out by the David Suzuki Foundation. For the Libs Enviro Guy, Dion has been pretty sloppy about assembling and presenting his whole political/environmental philosophy.
In any case, I wouldn't want to over-accentuate the negative. In fact the GS, if fully implemented by a Dion government, would have had minuscule negative economic effects. And, in fact, a Cap and Trade system simply = a Carbon tax with twice the bureaucracy. But, beyond the Tory disinformation campaign, there were plenty of aspects of the GS that lent themselves to legitimate criticism. I don't know if it is entirely impossible to run on a tax, but the Libs made it particularly difficult to run on this one.