Campaigns of Hope & Fear
Aside from posting on some of the more frivolous aspects of the Liberals’ proposed “Green Shift” (not to be confused with eco-friendly urinal cakes, napkins and disposable coffee cups bearing the same trademarked name), I haven’t really delved into this pivotal issue to date, but now that I’ve finally gotten around to reading through the plan in its entirety, I’d like to explore it in some more detail over the coming weeks.
In following the “debate” since the plan’s release, I have to say that I’ve found the largely uninformed, knee-jerk reactions of “Conservative” politicians and supporters to be both needlessly alarmist and deeply pessimistic. And at the risk of vastly oversimplifying the matter, to a certain extent it doesn’t seem entirely unfair to regard the contrasting views of Stéphane Dion and Stephen Harper about the issue as those of “hope” and “fear” respectively.
Conservatives would have us believe that a carbon tax is nothing more than a nefarious “trick” that will, as Stephen Harper put it so eloquently back in June, “screw everybody” (especially those in “the West”), but to me, the reasons why this is automatically assumed to be the case seem founded more on an irrational paranoia and a deep-seated distrust of government rather than being based on any empirical evidence or sound economic principles. Quite to the contrary, most economists agree (in itself a somewhat unusual occurrence) that taxing carbon is a sensible idea and some, such as Don Drummond, the chief economist of the TD Bank Financial Group, have even described the Liberals’ carbon tax plan as “a good start” that will, at least in his estimation, leave the general Canadian taxpayer “better off.”
Of course, it would be entirely foolish to blindly place bets on the side of “hope” without failing to mention that the Liberals haven’t always been noted for their sound management of complex government programs in the past. One only has to look back to monumental boondoggles like the scandalous waste associated with the Human Resources Development grants program or the long gun registry to see how badly things can go wrong in this regard. While those are certainly more than fair enough points to raise by way of objection to the Liberals’ “Green Shift” proposal, I want to leave that aspect aside — at least for the time being — and focus instead quite strictly on the principle of the matter.
So, if you have any ideas on how you’d like to see this discussion run, I’d be more than open to suggestions. By way of full disclosure, I may be participating in a conference call with Dion about this issue in the coming weeks, so what transpires here will likely help to inform my questions about the program and its implementation in the rather unlikely event of a future Liberal government.