Doubling down, or, The strange bedfellows


Stéphane Dion takes Andrew Coyne’s advice. Will wonders never cease. Gas taxes — oops, sorry, tax shifting — all around, garçon!

UPDATE: Clarification from David McGuinty on the broooooadcast: “Look, there is no plan right now.”


Doubling down, or, The strange bedfellows

  1. Was it not Andrew Coyne’s advice that the Liberals took in picking Dion?

  2. I almost feel for sorry for Dion as the cat is out of the bag and it will not matter one iota what he says or does from now on as he will be subject to that old Liberal habit of Tax and Spend. I have strange feeling that Dions inability to lead his party in a effective manner and Harper’s brilliant move of dividing the left as well as legislating himself a 4 year term. Which means it is always up to Dion to determine when there is an election freeing up his own time to continue to govern as if he had a majority and letting Dion continue to look like an incompetent politician has weakened Dion to the point of beyond repair. The NDP right now is the party I am watching very closely and wonder why there is not more movement to them from the disaffected Liberals hmmm.

  3. Taxing our problems away is a time honoured tradition. Don’t you remember how effective the lead tax was at removing lead from paint and then gasoline.

  4. Mr. ‘Gas taxes — oops’ Wells, I wonder if you will follow Mr. Coynes advise as well.

    “this could be the most policy-driven election since 1988. That’s if the press can be induced to get off their duffs and examine it as policy, rather than indulging in the usual idle speculation on how it will play politically.”

  5. Sorry Blues, I’m way too fond of my duff.

  6. Blues, “the most policy-driven election since 1988” has been announced approximately 5 times since 1988.

  7. This voter at least would love to see an election in which parties duke it out over policy. ’88 was my favourite election, and we’re long overdue for another 49-day multiple-lead-reversing slugfest.

    Last time, I supported the Conservatives’ drive to fundamentally alter Canadian politics, and remove the adjective ‘natural governing’ from the lexicon. But it’s hard to support a party whose chief goal so swiftly became longevity of governance, abandoning any other principles.

    So… if Dion can convince me that the carbon tax:
    – will be principled and universal, not subject to endless exemptions for client groups
    – be related to the cost of externalities generated through carbon consumption
    – used to pay to offset those externalities
    – any excess revenue used to eliminate the worst taxes first (e.g. capital taxes, mining taxes).

    … I may vote Liberal for the first time.

    It’s a lot of ifs, and the Liberals are very, very hard to trust, but the opportunity exists.

  8. That’s alright Mr. Wells you are forgiven… now rest son, rest.

    Thanks Ted! I’ll file that away in my Canadian politics folder.

    just a side note:

    Didn’t the Federal Government just release a report (that they commissioned) by an independent advisory panel that called for a… um, Carbon Tax? Oh well, Dion isn’t a leader!!!

  9. Ross,

    I am with you on that, double on point one. Unless the tax is GST-like in its application forget about it.

    Taxing is one of the best ways to shift behaviours. It even allows those who want to behave against the wishes of the government to pay the price to do so.

  10. A couple of points:
    1) Fully expect this policy to be watered down so as to be immune from the usual criticisms. We’ve already seen gas excluded to blunt the “jacking up gas prices” criticism. Next up, rebates to low-income people. This will dilute the impact on conservation, depending on how liberal the definition of “low-income” is. By the time they are done with these qualifications, it won’t be as revolutionary as both parties make it sound.

    2) I’m not an expert on this but there are enough “behaviour” taxes out there that we can compare this to if anyone has any data. There seems to be a bit of a contradiction in a tax that is proposed as one that will alter behaviour, but at the same time, the money it raises is already spoken for. And not only now, but in the long-term. Theoretically, if this tax is a smashing success in reducing carbon emissions, it will raise less and less revenue for the offseting income/corporate tax cuts.

    3) This is hard to gauge without knowing the specifics, but does anyone know how close Canadian businesses are to capitalizing on something like this? For a lot of industry in Canada, CO2 emissions are just a part of doing business. Tax that or their productivity, but it’s more or less the same thing. They’d need a way to do business with less carbon emissions that isn’t economical now but would be under the proposed regime.
    I guess the simpler way to put that is: rather than change the way they do business, would it currently be easier for businesses to accept their new tax cut in one hand and then feed it back to the government as carbon tax with the other?

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