On a CBC panel yesterday afternoon—the relevant discussion starts at about the 5:40 mark—Peter Van Loan was asked about the difference between what the NDP proposed in 2011 and what the Conservatives proposed in 2008.
The difference, he said, is that the NDP is “looking to take revenue.” He then said there were lots of cap-and-trade systems across the world that don’t involve the government “taxing.”
As Stephen Gordon explained yesterday, there are two ways to do cap-and-trade: either the government sells pollution permits to companies and the government gets the revenue or the government gives away the permits to companies and the companies get the revenue from selling the permits to each other. Either way, the market establishes a price on carbon.
And there, at least so far as the Conservatives are concerned, is where any distinction disappears. Because a few hours before Mr. Van Loan spoke on television yesterday, Conservative MP John Williamson was up in the House, explaining as follows.
Cap and trade or cap and tax, a price on carbon is a tax on carbon. That makes it a carbon tax.
Here, again, are the reasons why the current Conservative position is farcical.