Cathy McLeod insists on the presence of water fowl - Macleans.ca

Cathy McLeod insists on the presence of water fowl

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Via Twitter, Conservative MP Cathy McLeod responds to my post about her understanding of cap-and-trade.

market driven cap + trade vs #NDP planned rev for myriad of gov programs. Hmmm sounds like a duck.

It seems to me that Ms. McLeod is attempting to differentiate between a cap-and-trade system in which the government auctions credits (and thus receives revenue) and a cap-and-trade system in which the government gives away credits. It’s not clear to me at this point that the Harper government ever absolutely ruled out ever deriving any revenue from the cap-and-trade system they proposed and pursued. They very well might have. (I previously sought to confirm this, but forgot to follow up with the official I was dealing with. I’ve just now sent a request to a different government official seeking clarity and documentation and will post whatever I receive whenever I receive it.) For the sake of the historical record, it is a detail worth noting.

But here’s the thing (a thing we explained in our last post): According to Ms. McLeod’s Conservative colleagues, whether or not the Harper government expected to generate any revenue from cap-and-trade is entirely irrelevant. Because cap-and-trade, in any form, establishes a price on carbon. And, so far as the Conservatives are now concerned, anything that puts a price on carbon is a carbon tax.

Peter Kent, June 16. “Carbon pricing in any form is a carbon tax…”

John Williamson, September 17. “Cap and trade or cap and tax, a price on carbon is a tax on carbon. That makes it a carbon tax.”

(Here is Jim Flaherty endorsing a price on carbon in February 2008. Here is John Baird endorsing a price on carbon in May 2008. And here is Jim Prentice endorsing a price on carbon in June 2009. And here, here, here and here Conservatives now lamenting the idea of putting a price on carbon.)

So we’re back where we started. The “revenue” quibble continues to be—according to the Harper government’s own logic—a red herring. And the basic policy that Ms. McLeod and her fellow Conservatives now oppose is still the same basic policy that the Conservative party and the Harper government were proposing and pursuing when Ms. McLeod was a candidate and MP.

I do give Ms. McLeod credit for engaging the discussion. Via Twitter, I asked her a follow-up question and will post any response she offers.

Here again is everything you need to know about the Conservatives’ carbon tax farce.