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Wynne's cap and trade policy trumps Harper's lame moves

Wynne’s cap and trade policy trumps Harper’s lame moves

The Globe and Mail story is short and simple  – “Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is preparing to bring in a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions, an ambitious move that could amount to the nation’s single largest salvo in the battle against global warming”.

Ah, but it gets more complicated. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, the most prominent being “cap and trade”, or a “carbon tax”. In British Columbia we’ve feebly chosen a halfhearted carbon tax.

Cap and trade is a bit complicated as it requires the government to set emission standards, police them, give certificates of performance, and collect the money. Industry that does better then required is able to trade its success to other companies who can use it to offset their own requirements. A carbon tax is simply a tax with all the traditional massive complications that come with simple taxes that only armies of accountants and lawyers can figure out.

I tell you here and now that’s as far as I intend to go in this complicated boar’s nest having already spent way too much time scrambling through learned university theses just to get here. The real question is whether Premier Wynne is doing the correct thing for her province, because if she is, why isn’t Mr. Harper doing something similar for Canada? Put the other way around, if Mr. Harper is right that you just muddle on doing nothing about climate change, why is Ontario getting involved in such a massive project?

For decades now, on an ever escalating basis, science has been warning about the perils of global warming and the deadly consequences presented by continuing use of fossil fuels.

I’ve no difficulty in accepting the presented science on this subject – it makes abundant sense that you cannot continue to dump increasing amounts of crap into the atmosphere without paying some sort of forfeit. Being unable to assess that forfeit myself, I must rely upon the experts and they are so substantially in agreement that I simply can’t even read environmental turncoats like former Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore, now making a fortune denying global warming on behalf of industry. Naturally, I would like to believe Moore because he’s so comforting – I don’t have to do a thing, not even finger a worry bead – but he is badly outgunned, outnumbered and consumed by self-interest.

In Prime Minister Harper we have a world class milker of both sides of an issue while doing absolutely nothing. Our dearly beloved leader has been very firm in many of his pronouncements that we must really do something about global warming and that Canada will do it’s bit. In the meantime the federal government subsidizes the fossil fuel industry – that means they give them our money, folks – encourages pipelines, blesses LNG plants and dangerous tanker traffic (except on the East Coast where it’s dangerous, apparently), supports coal extraction and export and makes deals with China to take our fossil fuels as fast as we can extract them.

Of course Canada has made solemn international commitments about reducing greenhouse gases and I’ll not trouble you with a litany of the conferences, sub-conferences, re-conferences, explanations of conferences etc. defining our obligations. Suffice it to say we are committed to “do something”.

Well, last December the PM got hit with a question in the Commons about the imposition of a cap and trade arrangement or a carbon tax. One would have thought this would have brought a thoughtful answer from the prime minister setting forth his careful program of bringing climate control into firm government policy and, as Ontario proposes to do, make a bunch of money at the same time.

This is what we got:

“Under the current circumstances of the oil and gas sector, it would be crazy — it would be crazy economic policy to do unilateral penalties on that sector; we’re clearly not going to do that. …In fact, Mr. Speaker, nobody in the world is regulating their oil and gas sector. I would be delighted if they did. Canada would be there with them.”

Needless to say, the fossil fuel industry were delighted by these warm words of comradeship.

Whether or not Premier Wynne’s proposals are good for Ontario is up to the people of Ontario. But something must be done. She’s thought it through and is doing something.

Mr. Harper, who goes to the people this October, prefers to play to the cheap seats already rustled up by the likes of Dr. Moore and he’ll no doubt give us a weak brew which, while paying lip service to our debt to the world, will pronounce that no Canadian jobs, much less corporate dividends, will under any circumstances be jeopardized.

Harper, who is clearly indifferent to the suffering that will befall the entire nation if global warming is not brought quickly under control, just won’t mention it in the campaign. After all, why worry the little dears?

The question is whether or not Canadian voters will buy this and, of course, it’s always much easier to say “no thanks I’ll take the money today and let somebody else worry about tomorrow”.

I suppose there is always this morose consolation – if we elect Mr. Harper, he will pull the country down in do far in so many different ways that global warming is only one of them and may provide us a merciful end.

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