The Conservatives on pricing carbon: For it before they were against it before they precipitated it?

The farce grows stronger

John Ivison explains how the Harper government’s regulations on the oil and gas sector might be implemented.

Mr. Kent was said to be in Alberta last month, meeting with industry executives and there seems to be a broad agreement on both sides. Companies like Exxon, Cenovus Energy and Total are on record as saying a greenhouse gas levy at least brings cost certainty and reduces concern about trade restrictions on oil sands bitumen based on carbon density. While the feds will not impose that tax, their regulations will inevitably lead to a price being placed on carbon…

… eventually, the deal that Mr. Kent is currently negotiating will be released for public discussion. What is it likely to look like? One thing is certain — Ottawa will not be imposing directly anything that walks, talks or quacks like a carbon tax. The most likely scenario would see Ottawa set a target for large emitters across the country. Then, provincial governments would create mechanisms to meet those targets, via a carbon tax or cap and trade system.

And yet.

For their part, the Harper Conservative are intent on basing the next election campaign message around the NDP’s “dangerous” new taxes and spending schemes.

So, under this scenario, the Conservatives, who promised and advocated for cap-and-trade while opposing a carbon tax, but then decided that cap-and-trade was the same thing as a carbon tax and proceeded to loudly and repeatedly criticize the NDP’s proposal of cap-and-trade, will soon introduce greenhouse gas emission regulations that will lead the provinces to implement carbon taxes or cap-and-trade systems, but then the Conservatives will maybe still spend the next election campaign criticizing the NDP’s interest in cap-and-trade.

British Columbia and Alberta already have carbon-pricing policies in effect. Ontario is committed to a cap-and-trade system.The Quebec government is moving forward with a cap-and-trade system. Manitoba has already implemented a price on emissions from coal and would like to see a federal system of carbon pricing established. The Saskatchewan government is willing to put a price on carbon. And the Newfoundland government is considering a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system as options.

President Barack Obama favours cap-and-trade. Asked in February what the Harper government would do if the United States implemented cap-and-trade, Joe Oliver said that scenario was a hypothetical he didn’t want to get into.