My Clean Break column today laments the fact that Canadians didn’t give the idea of a carbon tax serious debate or consideration in the last federal election. The Liberals, under Stephane Dion, proposed a carbon tax as part of a “Green Shift” plan that would use proceeds from that tax to lower personal and income taxes. In other words, it was revenue-neutral for the government. Unfortunately, the Liberals and its leader did a poor job of communicating the plan and the Conservatives, under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, did an excellent job of scaring Canadians into rejecting it.
My disappointment comes not with the Liberals losing, it comes from the fact that the idea of a carbon tax is unlikely to be entertained on the Canadian political scene for some time now given the rough ride the Liberals got. It’s for this reason I’m someone elated that the idea is being given serious attention in the United States, and not just by Al Gore and friends. Republicans appear quite happy to entertain the idea, and so too are some of the major oil companies — Exxon Mobil included.
Now, who knows where this will go? But it’s nice to know that, in a continental context, the idea is still alive and that people are willing to compare and contrast the benefits of a carbon tax against a cap-and-trade system that many, including myself, perceive as inefficient, complex and prone to manipulation.