We Need Green MPs Now

Yesterday, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) released a report that says we must start paying a price for carbon emissions, and that a carbon tax in conjunction with a cap and trade system for big polluters is the best plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions without harming the economy. The NRTEE now joins “a chorus of the country’s top economists and major banking institutions who say the only way to alter Canada’s emissions is to change market behaviour with a tax.” Environmental organizations were also unanimous in their praise of the report’s recommendations. Predictably, however, John Baird rejected the recommendation (childishly, too), even though it was his own government that created the panel, selected its membership, and tasked them with creating the report in the first place.

And yet, you’d think that with environmentalists, the banks, economists, and others on board, there would be at least one opposition party that was able to creditably take the government to task for so quickly throwing out this report, right? Unfortunately, for reasons I’m not quite able to grasp, not a single party in the House of Commons had the (wisdom? courage? political foresight?) to call for what is increasingly acknowledged as necessary and urgent.

Only the Green Party supports a carbon tax, which we would use to reduce taxes on income and investment. It’s incorporated in our detailed climate plan released last summer, and has been a core policy position for longer than I’ve been involved. Like so much of our vision for Canada, it is an idea whose time has come.

It’s reasons like this (not to mention this) that not only must Elizabeth May be in the leaders’ debate during the next general election, but we need Green MPs in Parliament as soon as possible. According to a poll released two days ago, most Canadians agree, and would like to see a Parliament with 25 Green MPs. (Not surprising, since under a fair voting system that’s around what our current level of support would produce.)

The Toronto Centre by-election represents an opportunity to realize that desire. A strong finish will (hopefully) scare the other parties into smartening up. A win would be historic, and break the old-line monopoly in Ottawa. It would mean ideas whose time has come would finally be taken seriously and begin to be implemented. And it wouldn’t be a moment too soon.

12 thoughts on “We Need Green MPs Now

  1. Chris… that poll did not say that Canadians want 25 Green MP’s… it was a simple extrapolation taking percentages, and assuming that each percentage point would equal one seat. It took the Green’s 8% (that’s right, 8%) and assumed that would automatically make 8 seats out of 100%. Of course, we know that’s not how the system works and that poll did not take any regional trends into consideration.

    The fact remains, a carbon tax will unfairly tax the poor and will put an unfair share of the burden of paying for climate change on the poorest in our society. Any plan for climate change should not be payed for on the backs of the poorest in our society, and that’s what the Green plan sets up. If that’s intentional or not, I won’t assume, but that’s what the net effect will be.

  2. “The fact remains, a carbon tax will unfairly tax the poor and will put an unfair share of the burden of paying for climate change on the poorest in our society.”

    That is a completely baseless comment my dear. The Greens want to shift the cost of a carbon tax away by cutting income tax, massive subsidies to oil companies etc., overblown surpluses going to pay off a non-existent national debt etc. can all be restructured and re-invested into social programs and income tax cuts etc. that would largely benefit the poor — unlike the Harper government who is cutting taxes for the rich, who are so rich that they won’t even notice if there is a tax cut…

  3. Cam, The Greens are committed to reducing and eventually eliminating poverty so you can be assured that any unintended “regressive” consequence of a carbon tax will be compensated for. Income and payroll taxes will be cut to fully offset the carbon tax and for those individuals who pay no tax there will be a rebate plan similar to the GST rebate.

    A Carbon Tax is critical to a successful Climate Change program and it is in fact the poorest who would suffer the most from the consequences of policy failure in this area because they would have the fewest resources to adapt to higher food prices and environmental changes from the extreme weather events .

    If you truly care about the poor then an equity-adjusted, revenue-neutral Carbon Tax makes a lot of sense.

  4. That is not completely baseless my dear. The fact is that the poorest in our society already don’t pay any income tax, so another income tax cut does nothing for them. So this proposal will basically impose a tax on those who are not paying one right now, therefore taking more money out of their pockets.

  5. Cam, Did you not read the entire email before you commented? Or did you just miss this line which speaks to the issue you address “and for those individuals who pay no tax there will be a rebate plan similar to the GST rebate.:”.

    Quick note: The first time a new person comments on this blog, the comment must be approved (pre-moderated) before it goes live. Subsequent comments by the same person go live automatically and are post-moderated as necessary. Once approved, comments appear in the order they’re sent, not in the order they’re approved. In this case, I believe Cam posted his second comment as a reply to Kar3n before Eric’s first comment was approved, so even though Eric’s comment appears first in chain, Cam may not have seen it. -CT

  6. We already pay for pollution through our health care budget, which is largely funded from sales taxes. The Green Party is trying to get polluters to pay for these unwanted ‘externalities’ and shift the burden onto them, not the poor.

    Most of the poor do not have health benefits and have to pay for medication like puffers ($40-$100). Pretending the poor are not already overburdened because of environmental degradation is somewhat naive. If you examine evidence from countries who have adopted carbon taxes you will not see a correlating rise in poverty.

  7. cam, your argument is somewhat unfounded, there is no study to back it up, instead – numerous studies that show that climate change, if not addressed will impact the poorest countries in the world the most, the riches the least, the poor use the least amount of resources and make the smallest carbon footprint in per capita, they consume less and purchase less carbon-intensive goods like big cars, large homes, multiple appliances, electronics, more shoes and clothes than they can physically wear, new cell phones because the camera in it doesn’t work, t.v. dinners, eating out etc. etc. etc.

  8. …its like crime rates and jail rates, increasing jail sentences does not cut crime, there is no correlation

  9. You mention: “A win would be historic, and break the old-line monopoly in Ottawa.”

    It would also break the old-line monopoly in Toronto, which is currently represented by ineffective opposition parties (Liberal, NDP) who only know how to complain in Question Period, not how to craft alternative sustainable policies. The ongoing spat over Chalk River just highlights this – both of those parties criticize Harper running roughshod over the regulators, yet both voted with him to override regulator authority.

  10. As an NDP supporter, Cam follows their standard line of criticism of Green policy – attacking a (supposed) negative repercussion without considering the various related measures we would implement. Green policy is holistic – it is meant to be implemented in concert, not as a menu of old-line consumer politics.

    This is also the NDP pattern of failing to provide any indication of a credible alternative. Instead, he merely attacks the only solution which is receiving a growing consensus of support from economists (of all stripes), environmentalists (including Sierra, Pembina, Suzuki), business leaders and experts (including NRTEE, TD Group), and a growing number of countries overseas already experiencing success from a carbon tax shift.

    It’s funny – okay, not funny, but inexplicable and tiresome – that the NDP ignore that tax shifting is standard policy among their social-democrat heroes – Scandinavia – all of whom implemented carbon taxes in the 90s yet still have lower poverty rates than Canada. A simple Wikipedia search on “carbon tax” would have answered all his worries.

    If this represents the NDP approach in this by-election, then Chris will do in Toronto in 2008 what Elizabeth did in London in 2006 and I did in Barrie in 2007 – come out in front of the NDP on election day!

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