If Stephen Harper is anything, he is a shrewd politician—always strategizing. He illustrated this yesterday starting off the new session of Parliament by accusing the NDP of supporting a carbon tax. Thomas Mulcair fell into the trap by immediately denying the NDP was considering any such thing. This accomplishes two goals for the Conservatives. First, it put Mulcair on the defensive, exactly where the Conservatives want him, and second, it is now extremely difficult for the NDP to propose a carbon tax in the future. Nicely done, Stephen.
Not so nice for the rest of us, however. A carbon tax is an eminently fair and morally responsible way to ensure we stand accountable for our actions while contributing to our salvation from global warming.
But how? We won't quit driving and we have no convenient way of disposing of our carbon waste. The obvious answer is a carbon tax. It is moral—we accept responsibility for our actions; and it is fair—the more you pollute, the more you pay. And although we pay in the short term, in the long term we profit from a healthier environment. We might expect any political party to support a measure that was moral, fair and an excellent investment in the future.
But in fact, we cannot. We can't expect a carbon tax from the Conservatives, a party in coalition with the oil industry and in love with the tar sands. The Liberals may not be willing to make another attempt after Stéphane Dion floundered on it. And now the Conservatives have maneuvered the NDP into a position where they hardly dare.
We won't, it appears, be seeing a carbon tax at the federal level any time soon. We will all be the losers.