Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, asked after QP today about the possibility of the United States adopting a cap-and-trade system, as raised by President Barack Obama in the State of the Union address.
Reporter: If they move to cap-and-trade, is that an initiative this government would support as well?
Oliver: Well, that’s speculative and hypothetical. I don’t want to get into that.
Mr. Oliver tried to be more categorical in November, but was undone by the convoluted history of his party’s position (ie. previously opposed to a carbon tax, while in favour of cap-and-trade, but now opposed to cap-and-trade, while saying cap-and-trade is the same thing as a carbon tax).
There are two ways to clarify matters now. Mr. Oliver could say that the Harper government would never, ever, ever, ever implement a cap-and-trade system, even if the United States did so. Or Mr. Oliver could say that, while the Harper government currently opposes cap-and-trade, it would have to at least consider implementing such a system if the United States did so. Although the latter would likely require some degree of explanation given the repeated and strenuous condemnation of cap-and-trade that has been offered these recent months.
This is probably academic (cap-and-trade is unlikely to pass the House of Representatives, although I’m interested to see if a “market-based solution” becomes more interesting to Republicans when the alternative—regulations—comes into focus). But this issue also seems to be of great and pressing concern to many Conservative MPs, so we should all try to strive for the greatest clarity.