Friday, June 20, 2008

The Green Shift

It appears that the beige is turning a little bit greener. The Liberals released quite possibly the most significant, wide-ranging political policy piece in years yesterday when they released their Green Shift plan yesterday.

As a long-time supporter of carbon taxes and ecological fiscal reform, I look at this and say... it's not perfect. But it's good. And as I was told often last year as I entered the policy world, perfection is the enemy of good. I see some room for improvement here, but not much. Congratulations to the Liberals. I support this plan.

I had recently moved towards the NDP and voted for them for the first time in the last provincial election, but I am dismayed at the NDP for disagreeing with this (though I understand why). I think that the Liberals plan does as well as can be expected to mitigate the impacts of a carbon tax on the poor, and on Northern communities that have fewer options and colder weather.

It should be noted that there is NO increase in gasoline taxes through this plan. I disagree with that, because taxation is a good way to minimize gasoline consumption and drive other energy efficiency policies. But raising gasoline taxes is a losing proposition for a political party, so I understand their choice.

Taxation is also fairly low cost for the government to administer; cap-and-trade has significant administrative costs.

I have made personal choices to prepare myself for a carbon tax. I believe that I should not be able to use the atmosphere as a free dumping ground. I believe that our taxation system should be designed to promote good things (the three I's mentioned by Stéphane Dion: income, investment and innovation), and should discourage things that cause harm (sin taxes on pollution and wasteful overconsumption). Unless the other parties get this, I will be (holding my nose for other reasons but will be) voting Liberal next election.

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