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Iggy v. The Carbon Tax


 

Michael Ignatieff talks in Kamloops.

“We took the carbon tax to the public and the public didn’t think it was such a good idea,” he said. “I’m trying to get myself elected here and if the public, after mature consideration think that’s the dumbest thing they’ve ever heard then I’ve got to listen.”


 

Iggy v. The Carbon Tax

  1. Is this yet more evidence of Iggy being a cowardly lion, being afraid to take a stand, draw a line? I don’t know yet, but the circumstantial evidence doesn’t look good. Leadership sometimes involves taking a stand – maybe even an unpopular one Mikey. You gotta stick yr head out on something eventually. Many people in Bc feel that SL deal stinks ; although you could be right, now isn’t the time. Be a realist by all means, but don’t forget yr expected to question it from time to time.
    This 2 for 1 isssue – i got it. But does he support doing away with all time served? I certainly don’t, nor do i think a lot of people in the legal profession. C’mon Iggy, you promise a lot in leadership terms – but can you deliver?

  2. I for one would LOVE it if Iggy kept the Green Shift Carbon Tax for the next election campaign, and watch him criss-cross around the country trying to convince people in BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan that they’ll get ahead under this scheme. Because Dion was just sooo successful in BC.

    I could be wrong (Lord knows I have in the past), but in SFU’s Marc Jaccard’s recommendations (which are included in Hot Air), didn’t he conclude that any carbon tax should be provincially collected and not federally collected, so as to prevent regional disparities and conflicts like the ones the Green Shift would have created? Also, didn’t Jaccard also say that every last penny collected through the carbon should be redistributed in the form of income tax/business tax cuts, and not largely in the new social programs that Dion wanted in his tax?

    Seriously, all I’m saying is, if Iggy wants to keep going with his carbon tax, he should instead advocate for provincially-collected carbon taxes that are harmonized in terms of pricing carbon, while the feds keep their noses out of wealth redistribution.

  3. BTW, with regards to sticking with principles and all that, isn’t Iggy doing the same thing that John Tory did in the Ontario election, basically abandoning his position after public outrage in the hope that he’ll get elected? I mean, Harper’s at least in power while he’s abandoning his principles, but Iggy hopes to be PM and he’s already abandoning his principles. What, does he think Canadians (or the Conservatives, for that matter) will forget that the federal liberal carbon tax was his idea in the first place? Don’t think so.

    • Since when is a carbon tax a matter of principle? It’s a policy idea; it got zapped; end of story.

      • The principle is “polluter pays”. Just like “user pays” – which I thought was a conservative principle.

          • Distancing himself from May/Dion – a toxic combination for some.

          • I would have considered voting Green if May hadn’t become party leader and purged the party of anyone who wasn’t a flaky, granola cruncher so far left that they thought the NDP had sold out.

  4. I’m just happy that Ignatieff gets it. The proposed carbon tax was certainly one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard, and I say this as someone who thinks that we need to find ways to reduce greenhouse gases.

    • Especially the non-neutral “revenue neutral” aspect. (I’m not qualified to comment on carbon taxes vs. cap & trade etc.) When I saw that Dion was promising programs on the strength of Green Shift revenues, I literally couldn’t believe my eyes.

      Encouraging, no, that a politician should accept the people’s verdict on a policy? As you say, another sign that Ignatieff is quite a smart cookie.

      • I also couldn’t believe it when Dion objected to the Green Shift being labelled a “tax increase” when his own make-believe forecast showed a dramatic increase in government revenues from taxation.

        Ignatieff is certainly a smart cookie, but it’s disappointing how so many of the Liberal Party’s closet Green Shift dissenters (more than 50%?) exposed themselves only after it became clear that they would not form the next government – Iggy included.

        • Come on CR — you of all people ought to know how political rhetoric works. Switching what is taxed does not necessarily equate to an increase in any particular tax even though overall revenue gained might increase. Yes, there is more total tax to be paid, but not necessarily via a tax rate increase. See: New Ontario Budget.

          • Yes, both sides were using their partisan rhetoric to blur the distinction between tax rates and aggregate tax revenues. But it was Dion who was pitching the Green Shift as a rhetorical “tax cut” because income tax rates would be lowered, even as he was announcing new programs that would be funded by the increased revenue generated by the green shift. Seems dishonest.

    • I think you say that as someone who wants to have his cake and eat it too.

      • Cake is yummy!

        • Yeah, and burnt is probably even better.

  5. John Manley floats the idea of throwing public dollars at NHL teams, and quickly backs down after the public outrage.

    Michael Ignatieff floats the idea of a carbon tax, Dion runs with it right over an electoral cliff, and Iggy reads the public mood correctly.

    In both circumstances, politicians concluded their idea was not worth defending, would never fly in this democratic society, and should therefore be abandoned. That’s not a lack of principle. That’s basically the right thing to do.

  6. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

    — Thomas H. Palmer

    “If at first you don’t succeed try, try again. Then quit. There’s no use in being a damn fool about it.”

    — W.C. Fields

  7. Ignatieff’s comments about policy development remind me a great deal of Ralph Klein’s political style – find out which way the parade is heading, then get out front of it and lead it with staff a-pumping. And when Ralph made a politically unpalatable decision, he would quickly backtrack, apologize, and do a 180.

  8. Iggy SO doesn’t get it!
    Try to put a Rizla paper between the Liberals under Iggy and the CPC under Harper – it is now impossible!
    He ain’t going to get the hard core Tory voters to vote Liberal (despite his getting on his knees to them) – but he IS risking many liberals throwing up their hands and saying – our party has been hijacked – and moving permanently to the Greens – or maybe the Dippers!
    And he WANTS to get elected?

    • Club Squares Ungummed

  9. “”I’m trying to get myself elected here and if the public, after mature consideration think that’s the dumbest thing they’ve ever heard then I’ve got to listen.”

    In other words, I’ll say and do whatever I need to in order to get your vote.

    I really miss Stephane Dion.

    • That statement does look ridiculous by its lonesome. The public thinks that it’s the dumbest thing to try and get elected?

    • But but but, it was His idea, Iffy ran on a carbon tax in 2006, after LOSING, he persuaded Dion to run on the Green Shift!!
      And the Guy with the Dumbest Ideas Ever Heard
      wants to be PM?

      No wonder there is no policy at the Seinfeld Convention.

  10. He’s the new Paul Martin. Absurd media hype/bias, utter cowardice in the face of resistance and no substance whatsoever.

  11. and if he stuck to the Liberal guns he’d be called elitist. There’s no pleasing some people.

    I LIKED the Green Shift. It pressured the market without a bureaucracy and with a fraction of strain on the National Account of the Conservative plan. Oh well.

    Where ARE those completed regulations for Turning the Corner anyways? They’re MONTHS overdue.

  12. Principle: reduce carbon emissions and consumption because it is good for the environment and therefore good for us.

    Method: tax carbon to make it more expensive to use in order to reduce emissions and consumption.

    The public clearly rejected the proposed method to implement the principle.

    It is not clear at all that the public rejected the principle or that Ignatieff has rejected the principle.

  13. The Green Shift, while far from perfect, was courageous and forward thinking. As we were being inundated with mindless “retail” policy proposition from the government, Dion offered a clear vision for what he wanted this country to become.

    I don’t think that Canadians were given the chance of hearing a reasoned discussion on whether pricing carbon was a sound proposition. Instead, we had to deal with a punditry that was having way too much fun ridiculing the messenger and an irresponsible government spreading lies about the proposal through the use of Oily the Splot cartoon character.

    I will also add that Canadians will also soon discover that they made a HUGE mistake in dismissing Dion’s proposal.

    • But we live in a democracy and “the people have spoken”.

      I don’t think Canadians were given a chance of hearing a reasoned discusion either (partly because of Harper but also partly because Dion did not offer a clear vision of what he wanted this country to become; Harper jumped on the vacuum of clarity for his own electoral gain). But I personally don’t think it would have made much of a difference. And in these economic times, it makes even less sense to introduce a very complicated, major overhaul of our tax, industry and environmental policies.

      • “And in these economic times, it makes even less sense to introduce a very complicated, major overhaul of our tax, industry and environmental policies.”

        There goes that “very complicated” label again.

        “But we live in a democracy and “the people have spoken”

        Agreed Ted. What you and I seem to disagree on is whether those votes were for or against the Green Shift. I, for one, seriously doubt that most people had the Green Shift in mind when they showed up at the voting booth on that day. There was no debate on the subject.

        • There were two debates. the french one and the english one, and they even brought in Liz May to give a boost to the carbon tax side.

    • Dion offered a clear vision for what he wanted this country to become.

      I think I have a basic understanding of a carbon tax and tax shifting. But I didn’t understand what all of his additional spending programs from the carbon tax revenues had to do with it. And if you followed the Green Party who had been advocating a carbon tax far longer than Iggy or Dion, their “tax shift” (redistribution of carbon tax money) was even more intellectually dishonest.

      Extremely bad execution.

      • I have to agree. The policy was the most intellectually dishonest one I’ve ever seen. It lied about tax/revenue neutrality, it lied about the fact that it was an environmental policy, it was ridiculous.

    • The Green Shift, while far from perfect, was courageous and forward thinking.

      The Green Shift was about as far from perfect as I can imagine. The dustbin of history is littered with those who were “courageous and forward thinking” but also completely wrong.

      I will also add that Canadians will also soon discover that they made a HUGE mistake in dismissing Dion’s proposal.

      This statement seems completely detached from reality. At this point, only a small group of true believers are still defending Dion’s proposal. Canadians gave his plan a fair hearing and soundly rejected it.

      • “Canadians gave his plan a fair hearing and soundly rejected it.”

        Looks to me like it is you who is detached from reality. Most Canadians had barely even heard of the Green Shift. To suggest that the policy had been given a fair hearing is completely ridiculous.

        • What do you mean, “most Canadians had barely even heard of the Green Shift”? It was Dion’s most visible policy proposal. Whole forests were cut down and pulped to provide the endless reams of newsprint devoted to the “Green Shift” debate. Tim Horton’s across the land were full of coffee drinkers sharing their two cents about this policy.

  14. It goes much further than that!
    Iggy is going to find that spin on a dime Harper and his good buddy Prentice are going to bite Obama’s hand off in their eagerness to adopt what he proposes for his energy strategy – some kind of User Pay Carbon Tax system – Cap and Trade – or hybrid…and Iggy is going to look like yesterday’s man eating dust!
    Some form of Carbon tax is inevitable – and in his thirst for retaining power – it looks like Harper will realize it first!
    The socalled current leadership of the Liberal Party are reading last year’s tea leaves.
    They didn’t vote for Dion because, sadly, Harper did a character assassination on him that his communication skills (in 30 second sound bites in the early part of the campaign – it improved towards the end – until the infamous Facebook quality tape nailed the coffin closed) could not rebut.

  15. “It is not clear at all that the public rejected the principle or that Ignatieff has rejected the principle.”

    I disagree. I do not believe that the Liberals’ loss in the last election should translate as a public rejection of the method proposed because it is rather clear to me that the election was not fought on the environment.

    There wasn’t even a debate on the subject.

    What I saw was columnists after columnist suggesting that the issue was dead and buried along with Dion’s career because of the current economic climate. Mind you, most columnist were trying to bury the policy even before Dion introduced it because… well… It was being presented by Dion.

    • Dion spent half the campaign campaigning about the Green Shift. Harper’s numbers soared to majority territory.

      The Liberal caucus pulled back on the Green Shift and got Dion to focus on other matters including Harper’s economic record and plans. Harper’s numbers came rocketing down to almost even. There was even some light talk of Prime Minister Dion, including by Harper himself.

      Feeling confident in his numbers and that the tide was turning, in the last week of the campaign, Dion ratcheted up the Green Shift talk again and his numbers collapsed to where they ended with one of if not the worse electoral results for the Liberal Party.

      True, it is difficult to separate out Canadians complete rejection of Dion personally from their complete rejection of the Green Shift policy, but I think the polling, as imprecise a tool as it is, was sufficiently consistent and sufficiently large enough that it can be relied upon to conclude that in October Canadians very clearly rejected both Dion and his proposed method of reducing carbon emissions.

      What Canadians did not do was reject the principle that carbon emissions should be reduced. Nor did we necessarily reject all of the kinds of penalties or taxes that someone could lump under the heading “carbon tax”. But the Green Shift and Dion were clearly rejected in October.

    • Dion spent all of his political capital on the green shift. He did not run a candidate in the riding contested by Elizabeth May. The Green Party was brought into the debates. They even created a new web site for the green shift. Dion defined himself through the green shift, and so two of the parties in the election were effectively using a carbon tax as their primary plank in their platform.

      You will never again see an election with such a massive focus on the environment.

  16. Mature consideration? Where? when?

    • My thoughts exactly.

      What election did Ignatieff live through exactly?

  17. “Feeling confident in his numbers and that the tide was turning, in the last week of the campaign, Dion ratcheted up the Green Shift talk again and his numbers collapsed to where they ended with one of if not the worse electoral results for the Liberal Party.”

    That’s not how I remember it.

    “True, it is difficult to separate out Canadians complete rejection of Dion personally from their complete rejection of the Green Shift policy, but I think the polling, as imprecise a tool as it is, was sufficiently consistent and sufficiently large enough that it can be relied upon to conclude that in October Canadians very clearly rejected both Dion and his proposed method of reducing carbon emissions.”

    And I totally disagree. That one is wishful thinking. You are making large assumptions here that I’m not willing to make. That Canadians rejected Dion is clear but that their vote was also about the Green Shift is pure conjecture.

    You are suggesting that Canadians had the environment on their mind when they went to the polls.

    How can you know that?

    • As I said, because of polling done at the time on this very question.

      Polling is a very imprecise tool for gauging what people are willing to live with or will actually do and even what they actually think. Plus it is only one snapshot in time.

      Having said that, the polling on the specific question of the Green Shift or carbon tax were quite consistent over time and between different pollsters, showed enough of a gap between pro-and con-, and was consistent enough over different formats of the question (i.e. asked about the “Green Shift” or asked about “carbon taxes” or asked about taxing carbon emitters). Enough so that we can at minimum conclude in the negative – that there is no evidence Canadians supported or would support the specific Green Shift or a carbon tax – and even conclude in the positive – evidence that Canadians in fact did not support the Green Shift or the carbon tax.

      So I’ve stated the basis for my conclusions. Reject them or accept them but please PolJunkie show me where there is any evidence to support the opposite point of view.

      • “Having said that, the polling on the specific question of the Green Shift or carbon tax were quite consistent over time and between different pollsters, showed enough of a gap between pro-and con-, and was consistent enough over different formats of the question (i.e. asked about the “Green Shift” or asked about “carbon taxes” or asked about taxing carbon emitters). ”

        What polls are you referring to? I recall seeing polls on the Green Shift throughout the summer but none during the election. Perhaps you could share those as they would indeed shed some light on this discussion.

        • Where’s your evidence of any support for the Green Shift or for carbon taxes?

  18. Iggy should announce a plan to pay lip service to the environment but not enact any actual measures to do anything about it (He should take those “We Didn’t Get It Done” commercials and turn them into positives). These policies served Chretien very well and seem to be very popular with the public.

    Oh, and…

    PERMANENT TAX ON EVERYTHING!!!!!!

    • They are serving Harper very well too.

      • Personally, I prefer “We Didn’t Get It Done” to “We Completely Screwed It Up”. Dion’s inept bumbling ensured that a carbon tax will never fly in this country/

  19. Iggy’s words did a good job distancing himself from a policy that he previously supported.

    To paraphrase:
    “I supported it, I listened to you, and thanks to you, almighty voters, and thanks to my almighty powers of listening and understanding, I have shown that I am on your side”

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