Monday, April 04, 2011

Cap-and-Trade Bad For Saskatchewan, Bad For the West

Ignatieff's green plan could be Green Shift II

Looking back on the 2008 federal election, it becomes clear that then-Liberal leader Stephane Dion's vaunted green shift -- which would have re-designed Canada's tax system around a carbon tax -- was a millstone around the neck of the Liberal Party.

While Dion took the blame for that defeat, the carbon tax itself was actually an idea adopted from the current Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff. With Ignatieff now proposing a cap-and-trade system in the place of that carbon tax, he's again provoking serious concerns regarding its effect on Canadian industry.

For his own part, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has been trying to stay out of the 2011 federal election. But as the Premier of a province that would be hit hard by the proposed cap-and-trade scheme, Wall has been forced to start speaking out.

Cap-and-trade, he points out, would be bad not only for Saskatchewan, but for the west as a whole.

"There's already been speculation in the media that it could be very costly to the industry in Western Canada, to Alberta and Saskatchewan, not just to oilsands but to the fossil fuels industry," Wall explained.

Wall would be prepared to consider a cap-and-trade system if he could secure assurances that the funds accrued through the trading would remain in the province in which they are paid.

"We need assurances from all parties that if provinces are serious about dealing with the issue, and we are, that any proceeds from fines related to emissions stays in our province," Wall announced.

"Cap-and-trade is different," he declared. "Cap-and-trade is very much about a wealth transfer because it can't respect borders by definition. That's certainly the cap-and-trade that I understand. That's the one that some of the central Canadian provinces want."

It's also approximately what then-Liberal MP Ken Boshcoff said the Green Shift would do in 2008. Boshcoff was defeated by now-Conservative MP John Rafferty in the 2008 federal election, but is now running again.

"If it's different than that, that's what we need to know and we should know it soon," Wall insisted.

But if Michael Ignatieff approaches his Green Plan the same way Stephane Dion approached the Green Shift, Canadians should expect to not know precisely what this Green Plan entails. Dion evaded questions about how a Liberal government would replace falling revenue from a carbon tax. Until Ignatieff becomes more forthcoming, Canadians -- Brad Wall included -- shouldn't hold their breath waiting to hear the details.

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