Déjà Vu All Over Again?

It would probably be a safe bet that going forward into the next election the Liberals’ will disavow any connection with the doomed Greenshift® (aka the “tax on everything” according to the Harperettes) which proved to be such a disastrous liability at the ballot box last fall. But what instead will they be advocating to limit carbon emissions? Perhaps a complex trading scheme such as the one favoured by the current U.S. administration… What could possibly go wrong with that?

Common Sense About Carbon

Solazyme CEO Jonathan Wolfson argues that a cap-and-trade system will be ineffective in leading development away from high-carbon technologies. “If I was the one writing the rules, I would just tax carbon,” he says.

Solazyme describes itself as “a synthetic biology company that unleashes the power of marine microbes to create clean and scalable solutions for the renewable energy, industrial chemical, and specialty ingredient markets.”

One of these days, I will (as promised back when the Liberals were still promoting their failed “GreenShift” approach to the problem) explain in more detail why cap-and-trade is a specious corporate scam. But in the meantime, good on Mr. Wolfson for being so blunt in rejecting that approach to tackling the problem of carbon emissions and for being so forthright about the quid pro quo that should (but sadly doesn’t in most cases) exist when government backs research and development efforts that lead to profitable enterprises.

Oh, I almost forgot. The complete ForaTV piece is available here.

Bloody Staples

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.

Explaining the “Green Shift”

Ontario employment lawyer Paul McKeever attempts to demystify the Liberal proposed “Green Shift” carbon tax proposal.

McKeever concludes that “Either it’s not green, or it does not involve a shift. In other words: either it will not reduce CO2 emissions, or it will be a tax grab.” He suggests the latter, calling it not only a “bad plan” but a “very dangerous one.”

It would be interesting to hear the responses of those Libs who enthusiastically support this plan.

A Question of Credibility

Who are you going to believe when it comes to the possible impacts of the Liberals’ proposed Green Shift on farmers?

Jason Kenney, a junior minister responsible for “Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity” (*snort*), with no real-world business experience or academic qualifications whatsoever, who’s only job outside of elected office was the head of two right-wing political advocacy organizations and who is now “acting as the human incarnation of Oily the Splot” to quote Kady O’Malley.

Or… Canadian Federation of Agriculture President Bob Friesen, the new Liberal candidate for Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia, a man who’s served in numerous executive and advisory capacities within the agricultural industry over the last twenty years and who also, until just recently, ran a turkey and hog farm outside of Winnipeg.

Seems like a no-brainer to me.

The Great “Green Tax Con”

It’s to be entirely expected that many “conservative” bloggers would seize on the article in today’s Daily Express that indignantly states “FAMILIES are being ripped off by an average of £783 a year through Gordon Brown’s bogus ‘green’ taxes, it emerged yesterday” and draw a suggestive parallel to the “Green Shift” carbon tax being proposed by the Liberal Party. There are, however, a couple of things that should perhaps be taken into consideration before doing that.

First of all, the Express is allied to the Conservative party in the U.K. and therefore tends to have a political bias in that direction — so take that for whatever it’s worth. Second, the article is remarkably short on detail to the point of being almost impossibly vague. For example, it’s nowhere stated exactly how the £19.6 billion in so-called green taxes is “too much” or how the money is presumably being misallocated — one gathers that it’s going straight into general revenues rather than being directed at any specific programs to combat pollution. Again, details are few and far between and there’s no presentation of the government’s side of the story. And finally, the Labour government in the U.K. has a myriad of these green tax schemes, but it’s not clear from the article that the ones in question are in any way comparable to the Liberals’ carbon tax, other than in name only of course.

Still, it’s something that’s definitely worth digging deeper into as it could prove to be a demonstration of how well-intentioned environmental initiatives can go horribly awry, whether through deliberate fiscal legerdemain or bungled implementation.

Red Star “In the Dark” About Green Shift

Promoting the Green Shift plan has been a “tough sell” according to Rob Ferguson writing in this morning’s Toronto Star about a Dion campaign swing through the riding of Don Valley West. Although he’s been selling the plan for weeks, most voters “were in the dark about it,” Ferguson reports.

”I haven’t really seen much about that,” men’s clothier Paul Carreira said after a quick chat with Dion, mainstreeting for the Sept. 22 by-election in Don Valley West.

Popping into stores and coffee shops to shake hands, Dion said his mission was to “just say hello” and not pitch the pollution-fighting plan to boost taxes on carbon-based fuels like gasoline while lowering income taxes.

Seems it’s not just voters who are in the dark, so is Ferguson. In fact, the tax will not apply to gasoline, since the existing excise tax on gasoline at the pump is already the equivalent of $42 per tonne of carbon.