There must be a federal election by October 2009, sooner if the Harper government were to fall on a confidence motion in the Commons.
In most federal elections there is no big issue. In fact the major parties dive for the centre ground so that, in fact, there is not that much difference in the party platforms. Most Canadian voters, I venture to guess, make their decision on the basis of their view of the leaders. Are they trustworthy, honest, competent, comfortable in their skins? Charisma is not a factor in contemporary elections in Canada since no leader has much of it.
There hasn’t been a big issue in a federal contest since the free trade election of 1988. Could the next federal election be decided on a big issue? Could be. The issue is called a carbon tax.
The rationale behind a carbon tax is fairly simple: that we should tax less the things we want more of – work, savings, investments – and tax more the things we want less of, like greenhouse gases. The intention of a carbon tax is environmental, to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and so slow global warming. Such a tax can be implemented by taxing the burning of fossil fuels – coal, petroleum products such as gasoline, aviation fuel and natural gas – in proportion to their carbon content.
This direct taxation is transparent. It can be popular with the public if it is revenue neutral i.e. if the revenue from the tax is returned by reducing other taxes.
Could a carbon tax become the big issue in the next federal election? Indeed it could. And the man who could make it one is Liberal leader Stephane Dion. He is thinking of putting a carbon tax at the centre of the next Liberal platform.
Dion has been encouraged by British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell’s groundbreaking introduction of a carbon tax earlier this year, a tax that has been well received by B.C. voters.
Mr. Dion has promised that his carbon tax would be revenue-neutral, raising about $16-billion which would be returned to middle-class and working Canadians through tax cuts.
A former Dion advisor says the Liberal leader should be bold: “Make it a Canadian version of Roosevelt’s New Deal.”
A poll just out today indicates that 72 per cent of Canadians think a carbon tax is a positive step.
Do you agree that a carbon tax is a positive step?
Or do you believe a carbon tax would hurt the economy and lead to loss of jobs?
Do you think the Liberals could win a general election promoting a carbon tax?