How to rule out cap-and-trade without quite ruling out cap-and-trade

by Aaron Wherry

Lobbed a friendly question yesterday afternoon, Joe Oliver stood in the House and declared as follows.

I am pleased to announce that, although the United States is adopting a carbon tax, which the American administration did not say it intended to do, our government will never do so in Canada. We will never adopt the NDP’s $21 million carbon tax, which would cause job losses and increase prices overall. We will continue to lower taxes and stimulate job creation.

Now, moments earlier, Eve Adams had reported to the House that the Obama administration was steadfastly against a carbon tax, so maybe Mr. Oliver had received urgent news to the contrary or perhaps he misspoke. Nonetheless, here was the Natural Resources Minister declaring that the Harper government would never adopt a carbon tax.

So never mind apparently what that Stephen Harper fellow said in 2009. And set aside, in this case, the importance of harmonizing our environmental policies with the United States.

Except that this isn’t quite a definitive statement.

Peter Kent apparently repeated the pledge—”The prime minister has made it very clear that we will not consider a carbon tax”—to reporters after yesterday’s meeting of the environment committee, but what does that mean? (That story references cap-and-trade, but the only quote from Mr. Kent refers to a carbon tax.) Is the Harper government using the definition of a carbon tax that it recognized in 2008 and 2009 (in which a carbon tax and cap-and-trade were distinctly different policies) or the definition the Harper government has been using over the last year (in which a carbon tax and cap-and-trade are exactly the same policy)?

When I asked Mr. Kent’s office in June about the impact of American policy, I seemed to be told two things: that the possibility of cap-and-trade was a hypothetical for which no clear answer could be provided and that the Harper government would not impose a carbon tax.

When I asked Mr. Oliver’s office in September, there seemed to be the same distinction: the Harper government would not adopt a carbon tax, but it was not in a position to comment on the possibility of cap-and-trade.

So that Mr. Kent and Mr. Oliver are declaring that the Conservatives will never implement a carbon tax is not new. But what about “cap-and-trade?” What about any policy that establishes a price on carbon? Anything short of an explicit vow on those explicit grounds leaves ambiguity.




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How to rule out cap-and-trade without quite ruling out cap-and-trade

  1. We already know the answer – do the Tories support a carbon tax? Yes. In fact, they’ve already implemented a $20 billion carbon tax that will hurt middle class Canadian families and surely cripple our economy for generations to come.
    Shame!

  2. It should be obvious to everyone by now that Cons have no clue what they’re doing. They make it up as they go along…..and as long as they insert the rote anti-Opposition message in it somewhere, they figure they’re fine.

    Meanwhile no one can figure out the mess that our economy has become.

  3. “I am pleased to announce that …. our government will never do so in Canada.”

    Canada doesn’t have carbon tax yet but we multiple taxes on carbons already.

    Wherry, reading you is like reading Miss Manners complaining about the deportment of six year olds in sand box.

    wiki ~In Canada, motor vehicles are primarily powered by gasoline or diesel fuel. Other energy sources include ethanol, biodiesel, propane, compressed natural gas (CNG), electric batteriescharged from an external source, and hydrogen. Canada, like most countries, has excise taxes and other taxes on gasoline, diesel, and other liquid and gas motor fuels (collectively called fuel taxes), and also taxes electricity at various administrative levels. Most provinces and territories in Canada also have taxes on these motor fuels, and some metropolitan areas such as Montreal, Greater Vancouver, and Victoria impose additional taxes.

    Additionally, Canada’s federal (national) government collects sales tax (GST) across the country, and some provincial governments also collect a provincial sales tax (PST), which may be combined with the GST into a single harmonized sales tax (HST)

  4. In the Book of Jeremiah, the King/Ruler gives princely posts to people who double up their money, and condemns the man who buried his dollar and tells the King he isn’t harvesting where he has sown. We’ve learned alot about economics since back then.
    Earth to CPC: you don’t deserve 6-figure salaries.
    Earth to Canada: @#$% you.

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