It would be natural to think that the Liberals’ proposed “Green Shift” plan that purports to cut taxes on income, investment and innovation, and shift those taxes to pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, waste and so on, would have a significant negative impact on Alberta, given the fundamental role played by fossil fuels its economy. And it will — there’s absolutely no doubt about that. The question is what the nature and extent of that impact will be.
David Staples, a “serious” journalist with the Edmonton Journal (who also writes extensively on popular culture), has a short piece (and by short we mean 250 words short) on the CanWest wires today with the alarming headline “Green Shift would bleed Alberta, experts say.” Um, okay. So, we look through the piece to see who the “experts” are making this claim and what do we find? Well, nothing at all really.
Staples starts off by citing some dubious and highly inflammatory remarks made by Liberal MP Ken Boschcoff several months ago that Green Shift is a way to transfer money out of Alberta into the rest of Canada and then moves on to University of Calgary professor David Keith, who shoots down the idea of a wealth transfer out of Alberta and says that some negotiations with the province would be needed. And that’s it. Period. No “experts” saying what’s claimed in the headline at all. Nothing, Nadda, Zip, Zero, Zilch! To put it quite bluntly, this little article is complete, unmitigated, phoned-in BULLSHIT.
Oh, and here’s a kicker, Environment Minister John Baird said earlier in the week that the “Green Shift” might actually be welcomed by the oilsands industry. Of course, he was attempting to make the case that it would create a “pay-and-pollute” system (as opposed to the Conservative “plan”), but still… this is the Conservatives saying that the doom and gloom for Alberta economic scenario they’ve been painting may not actually be true.
Update: Apparently, the print version that appeared in the Edmonton Journal is more extensive than what was posted over the wires by CanWest. Thanks to Gayle in the comments for pointing out the more complete article which is available here. Notwithstanding the headline, it presents a considerably more balanced assessment of how the Liberals’ “Green Shift” carbon tax might impact the Alberta economy.
Update2: Garth has a very good Q&A summary regarding the “Green Shift” on his blog today. What a pity the Liberals didn’t put something like this together ahead of the game to preemptively address these sorts of questions. Oh well. Live and learn, I guess.