bc election 2009

BC NDP Leader Accepts BC Carbon Tax (Bravo! Carole James)

After election defeat, a conscientious shift

In a surprising and impressive political about-face, BC New Democratic Party leader Carole James withdrew her party’s opposition to the BC carbon tax today - committing to improving the tax, rather than trying to undermine it.

Carbon Tax Wins: Cheap Politics Loses in B.C. Election

The only government in North America to implement a carbon tax to fight climate change has been re-elected handily in British Columbia.

Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell introduced a carbon tax in February 2008 and launched it officially in July, regardless that the introduction date coincided with the highest oil prices in history. The Premier, surprisingly, held his ground, The left-leaning (and traditionally environmentally conscious) New Democratic Party on the other hand opted to attack the tax, characterizing it as an unfair effort to pick the pockets of the poor. She campaigned on a promise to “axe the tax.”

On Tuesday, British Columbians said, loudly, that they couldn’t believe her. The carbon tax stands; Carole James falls.

B.C. NDP - Greens = Liberal victory Tuesday

“As citizens of the planet, it is our responsibility to put the planet before politics and urge the next B.C. government and federal politicians to do the same.”

Mike Harcourt, et al, Globe and Mail Online, Saturday, May 9, 2009

At a critical time, B.C. New Democratic Party leader Carole James decided it was expedient to put politics first, and tomorrow, it looks like she will pay the price.

The B.C. election campaign that wraps up today has been  both shocking and inevitable. It was shocking, for example, that so many traditional New Democratic Party (NDP) supporters, from David Suzuki and Tzeporah Berman to (most surprisingly) former NDP Premier Mike Harcourt, should speak up in praise of Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell’s carbon tax.

And it was inevitable that the NDP would dismiss THAT as politics, making a strained claim for environmental high ground on the basis of the party’s other policies.

Ottawa Think-Tank Calls B.C.'s Carbon Tax Canada's "Most Effective"

British Columbia has the best carbon pricing scheme in Canada. That’s the conclusion of a national survey and analysis of climate policies compiled by Sustainable Prosperity, a progressive think tank based at the Univeristy of Ottawa.

According to a Globe and Mail report, the authors of the study invested a year speaking with top economic, business and environment leaders across the country before identifying eight key principles of a carbon pricing plan—think tranparency, reach, simplicity, and so on. The group then applied those principals to score Canada’s existing carbon laws and proposals. B.C.’s carbon tax, introduced a year ago, scored an 87. It fell short in the areas of national reach and long-term impact.

The group also informally examined the limited cap-and-trade policy that B.C.’s New Democratic Party is presently campaigning on. Sustainable Prosperity’s carbon-pricing director told the Globe that her group’s “score card would rate [it] as the weakest policy in Canada.” With few details of that plan yet available, the group was only able to conduct a back-of-the-envelope analysis. It was enough, though, to suggest that New Democrat’s plan would introduce “huge instability and doubt” to the market.

Ottawa Citizen compares BC NDP to Conservative Party on Carbon Tax stance

An editorial in the Ottawa Citizen today on the BC election and the issue of the carbon tax points out that:

“Instead of trying to create the best possible tax shift for B.C., the provincial NDP has chosen to follow the populist path blazed by the federal Conservatives, and portray the tax-shift as a cash-grab.” (my emphasis)

The entire column is here: Watching the West Coast

Top academics call BC NDP the new climate change 'mythmakers'

A high profile group of academics, including Dr. John Robinson, UBC’s top sustainability expert and a lead author on three reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), co-wrote a column in the Vancouver Sun today accusing the BC NDP of “intellectual dishonesty.” The group goes on to compare the BC NDP and their leader Carole James to “ ‘Climate “skeptics’ — people who doubt, despite the mounds of evidence, that climate change is a problem worth addressing…”

Robinson and company write:

“Climate ‘skeptics’ — people who doubt, despite the mounds of evidence, that climate change is a problem worth addressing — are less prevalent today, but they been replaced by purveyors of a new myth: people who tell voters that we can solve the climate change problem without the need for any change in how we live our lives.

In B.C., Carole James and the NDP are these new mythmakers. The BC NDP promise to “axe the tax,” should they win the provincial election, while accomplishing all the same goals with no cost to BC taxpayers, is nothing short of intellectual dishonesty.” (my emphasis)

Read the whole op-ed here: Debunking myths about the B.C. carbon tax

Conservation Voters of BC launches "Anybody But Carole" campaign

Frustrated by what they see as a failure in leadership by the BC NDP on the issue of climate change, the high profile Conservation Voters of BC announced today that they are endorsing “Anybody But Carole” in NDP leader Carole James riding of Victoria-Beacon Hill.

The group also announced that they will not be endorsing any NDP incumbents that were members of the past caucus.

The Conservation Voters press release states that:

“As leader, the decision to position the NDP campaign against world-leading climate policies while not putting forward improvements or better alternatives is on her shoulders. We do not endorse Carole James for re-election.

Due to the New Democrats’ failure to be leaders in promoting real solutions to global warming we cannot endorse any NDP incumbents that were members of this past caucus. We believe the party needs new leadership and new voices that take a more urgent, principled and collaborative approach to meeting the challenges of climate change.”

Al Gore Champions Revenue Neutral Carbon Tax

“We should tax what we burn, not what we earn. This is the single most important policy change we can make.”

- Al Gore, Former US Vice President and 2008 Nobel Laureate

Given the debate over British Columbia’s carbon tax, we’re highlighting the opinions of some of the world’s top leaders on climate change solutions and their thoughts on carbon tax policy. And who better to look to than the Nobel prize-winning former US Vice-President Al Gore.

Gore has long been an outspoken champion of the idea of a revenue-neutral carbon tax that shifts the tax burden away from things like income and small business tax and puts it on the consumption of fuels that emit heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

In a speech Gore gave last summer at the Constitution Hall in Washington, DC, he explained that:

“Of course, we could and should speed up this transition by insisting that the price of carbon-based energy include the costs of the environmental damage it causes. I have long supported a sharp reduction in payroll taxes with the difference made up in CO2 taxes. We should tax what we burn, not what we earn. This is the single most important policy change we can make.” (my emphasis)

As John Lauhmer at Treehugger explains Gore’s carbon tax position:

“As a not-running-for President guy, Al’s in a position to be logical about the best public policy to drive climate action: a carbon tax. No Democratic candidate can come out for a carbon tax because he or she would be attacked for being a ‘tax and spend liberal.’ And no Republican candidate can come out of the carbon tax closet because…you know…tax cuts.”

Carbon Tax: (Unlikely) allies throw BC NDP a lifeline

The BC NDP have been offered two elegant lines of retreat from a damaging and divisive election policy condemning BC’s continent-leading climate change carbon tax.

First, Metro Vancouver mayors have let it be known that they would like the revenue from the carbon tax to pay for regional transit. That’s a perfect solution for the NDP. Rather than maintaining their opposition to the tax - and continuing to sow outrage among erstwhile environmental supporters -NDP leader Carole James could acknowledge the merit of the mayors’ request and agree to leave the tax in place, redirecting its proceeds to transit options.

The second potential lifeline came in a column from Victoria Times-Colonist editorial page editor Dave Obee, who pointed out the elemental weakness of the NDP’s position and advised: “The best bet for the NDP would be to quietly drop the talk about the carbon tax and suggest other ways to curb emissions.”

Jaccard: Voters being misled on BC climate policy

“I know this sounds cynical. But politicians implementing a carbon tax face a great risk that unscrupulous political opponents will mislead the public by claiming we can reduce emissions without taxing gasoline, conveniently failing to mention that their cap-and-trade alternative should have the same upward effect on its price for the same emissions reductions.”

That quote is from an opinion piece in the Vancouver Sun today on BC climate policy and the current BC election, by Simon Fraser University economist Dr. Marc Jaccard.

Jaccard writes:

“A recent B.C. NDP press release states that Canada’s National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy (on which I serve) “clearly supports” the NDP’s climate policy proposal to scrap the carbon tax and that I am Premier Gordon Campbell’s ‘top adviser’ on B.C.’s carbon tax. Neither of these statements is true.”

While the BC NDP will no doubt try and paint Jaccard, an internationally respected academic on climate policy, as some how in bed with the BC Liberal government, the reality is that Jaccard has worked to advise the BC government for many years, including previous NDP ones.

As Jaccard rightly point out:

“Of course, the NDP did not call me Campbell’s ‘top adviser’ from 2001 to 2006 when I repeatedly criticized his ineffective climate policies of that period. But now that I am applauding his recent climate policies and sharply criticizing the NDP’s alternatives, their strategy is to claim I am no longer independent.”


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