With Liberal leader Stephane Dion just having finished a tour of the west trying to sell his carbon tax plan, yet another Liberal MP has made that task significantly harder.
First it was Halton MP Garth Turner, who made offensive comments about Quebec separatists and alleged Albertan separatists.
Now, it's Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP Ken Boschoff, who published a statement on his website insisting that the green shift would provide a Liberal opportunity with a tool for further wealth redistribution:
"The Liberal Party’s Green Shift announced on June 19th marked the most aggressive anti-poverty program in 40 years. The ‘shift’ will transfer wealth from rich to poor, from the oil patch to the rest of the country, and from the coffers of big business to the pockets of low-income Canadians."Not only does Boshcoff insist that the "green shift" plan will do all this, he even has a pretty good idea as to how:
"Roughly $9 billion of the $15.3 billion expected to be collected annually in carbon tax revenues would be returned to Canadians earning less than $40,000 annually. This would be done through a combination of income tax cuts and benefits targeted at children, low wage earners, rural residents, and individuals with disabilities."All of this with the revenue being transferred from "the oil patch to the rest of the country".
Considering that Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia are Canada's leading oil producers, it's hard to interpret their comments as anything other than Liberal party intent to transfer wealth out of these provinces to Ontario and Quebec.
Of course, Garth Turner insists that the "mild-mannered" Boshcoff only wrote what he wrote for political gain:
"Ken Boschoff is a mild and caring guy, as far as I can tell. He’s my colleague from the Thunder Bay area, and an extremely effective communicator in his riding. That may be why, since his chief political opposition there is the NDP, he chose to write a piece the other day stressing the social aspects of the Dion Green Shift.But it's hard to decide what Dion would be saying to an Albertan MP, considering that he doesn't have any in his caucus.
So, yeah, I know what Ken wrote. I also know why, and what he meant. I can also tell everyone reading this that not a single time, not once, has the notion of (a) screwing the West, (b) finding a new NEP, (c) transferring wealth from Big Oil to Toronto, (d) funding lavish new social programs or (e) dreaming up a plan to secure the Eastern vote, been discussed in national Liberal caucus. But I have heard Dion tell a room full of MPs, none of whom were from Alberta, that his plan will help diversify that oil-dependent economy and lead to a better life for every person living there."
Beyond that, while he again mischaracterizes reactions to Boshcoff's comments -- be they candid or otherwise -- as evidence of Alberta's allegedly bubbling separatism, Garth overlooks a very important fact:
There's a reason why Albertans don't trust the Liberal party. And yes, it does have a lot to do with the National Energy Program. And rightfully so.
The unconstitutionality of the NEP -- intervening in a policy sphere constitutionally ceded to provincial jurisdiction -- has long been established. The irreversable and irrecoverable damage done to the Albertan economy has long been established.
But the biggest slight -- the one that provokes the greatest amount of anger and resentment -- is the Liberal insistence that the damaging results of the National Energy Program should simply be dismissed to the pages of history.
All too often, this is insisted by individuals who lost nothing in the course of the NEP. And Albertans -- who, yes, do have a long memory -- remember these things quite vividly. And, no, Albertans do not believe those losses have beome irrelevant. And they certainly don't believe those losses are "yesterday's news".
Meanwhile, the Liberal party promises the carbon tax won't hurt our economy, and promise it won't result in any additional taxes. Yet the Liberal party has made such promises before, and broken them before.
Mr Boshcoff, Mr Turner: there is a reason westerners -- and Albertans in particular -- don't trust the Liberal party. And to figure out precisely what that reason is, all you need do is take a good, hard look at your own comments... and in a mirror.
We don't trust you.