So what was the 2008 election about then?

by Aaron Wherry

Talking to the House this weekend, Peter Kent discussed the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy and carbon pricing (emphasis mine).

Peter Kent: … One major point of disagreement with the National Roundtable report was, it again recommended carbon pricing. And I’ve got to say again, our government is not going to impose a carbon tax on Canadians…

Evan Solomon: But they’re not saying carbon tax. To be fair, they said it could be a price on carbon, which could be a cap-and-trade. They have not said or recommended, quite specifically, a carbon tax at all.

Peter Kent: Carbon pricing in any form is a carbon tax, because to be a realistic dollar figure, it would get Canadians at the gas pump for example, and right across the economy, but at the gas pump, it would get us to where Europeans are.

Evan Solomon: But you know they have one in Alberta, provincially. They have a $15 a tonne, it goes to a fund, nonetheless it’s a price on carbon.

Peter Kent: But that will do nothing to get GHG actual emissions down. The carbon market in Europe is under $10 a tonne, half of what it was when they began that market. The EU is no longer issuing. It’s a volatile market, which is probably the most unstable market in the world … we believe that the emitters who are regulated are the ones who will actually get emissions down.

During the 2008 campaign, the Conservatives loudly opposed a carbon tax, while promising to pursue a continental cap-and-trade system. But, according to the Environment Minister, a carbon tax and cap-and-trade are the same thing.

Continental cap-and-trade wasn’t merely a campaign promise either. The Harper government repeated the promise in its 2008 Throne Speech. Jim Prentice identified continental cap-and-trade as an exciting opportunity in November 2008. Mr. Prentice then referenced it in his December 2008 speech to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poland. In September 2009, Mr. Prentice lobbied the Alberta government on the virtues of cap-and-trade. And, in December 2009, the Harper government claimed to be “working in collaboration with the provinces and territories to develop a cap and trade system that will ultimately be aligned with the emerging cap and trade program in the United States.”

Peter Kent ran, unsuccessfully, as a Conservative candidate in 2008. Presumably, he endorsed the party’s platform. Even if he didn’t, as recently as last May, the Environment Minister allowed that cap-and-trade “can always be something to consider in the future.”

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