A global survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers has found that 94 per cent of Canadians expect to change the way they do business over the next two or three years in anticipation of climate change policies, and 98 per cent believe regulation is the best way to influence that change. Roughly 60 per cent of Canadian respondents think the government, not the private sector, should have primary responsibility for leading behavioural change. The global average here is 44 per cent, and only 23 per cent in the United States. So is government doing enough? Uh… no — 70 per cent of Canadian respondents said current government policies — and I assume they’re talking federal policies — are ineffective.
So, it makes one wonder: Why is our federal government attaching itself to the U.S. hip on these issues when clearly, Canadians think differently and want our government to lead, not follow? Opposition parties have failed us on this issue, particularly the Liberals. Federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has been ineffective on the climate change file. He’s been invisible. Even if there is a change in government, it’s unclear what it would accomplish. Increasingly, I’m hearing from the business community that a carbon tax would be the preferred mechansim for pricing carbon. There is growing fear that cap-and-trade is the wrong way to go, if only because it’s complex and open to widespread manipulation and abuse.
Is it time to rekindle talk of carbon taxes and “green shifting” on the federal political scene? Some might consider it suicide, based on how former Liberal leader Stephane Dion got killed on the issue. I disagree. I think it can be resurrected, and should be resurrected. But it needs a convincing leader behind it, one who is able to articulate the benefits clearly and stand up to the scare tactics of the Conservatives; one who can build alliances with the business community, with consumer and labour groups, and with provinces and municipalities.