Sunday, June 08, 2008

Greening Canada a tough task

The Liberals and Conservatives have been battling over who has the best plan to make Canada greener in terms of air pollution. The Conservatives have come up with the idea of reducing ïntensity per unit of production. In other words for every widget a company makes, there needs to be less pollution emmitted. This works except for the downfall that if the a company is more successful, the more pollution they will emit because they are producing more widgets. This doesn't really help in reducing the overall amount of air pollution at all. But at least the economy isn't hindered in the short term in order to bring about environmental change. Although, long term the Conservative Plan is rather suspect.

The Liberals, on the other hand, have started to release their idea for a "carbon tax system". Liberal MP for Willowdale (Toronto, Ontario) Martha Hall Findlay explains it in a Letter to the Editor in June 1st's Toronto Sun explains the Liberal plan as:

"It is quite simple: We reduce the tax on the things we like and which we want more of -- income, innovation, investment in green technologies; and we shift those taxes onto the things we want less of -- pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, smog and waste...But this shift would be revenue neutral -- no more tax than we have now. "

The Liberals must be fooling themselves with this plan. The promise of taxing things like pollution and green house gas emissions while reducing income taxes works really well. However, the promise of the Liberal plan being revenue neutral seems a little suspect. When in Canadian history has there been a government either federal, provincial or municipal ever had a revenue neutral plan of reducing one set of taxes while increasing another set and had it succeed? The city of Toronto would beg to differ on the "revenue neutral" plan launched by the last Ontario provincial Conservative government where the province took over education and downloaded ambulance and social services to the municipal level. The whole idea a government can have a "revenue neutral" idea is proposterous as usually through some design flaw, one side gets more money than the either. In the Liberals case it would probably be the federal government with more chaching than the taxpayer. If the Liberals actually pulled off this revenue neutral idea it would be the first time any government had a revenue neutral plan that actually succeeded. That would be magical! But alas, Martha Hall Findlay again: "there is nothing magical about our plan for the environment and the economy." Then she goes onto say, that the Liberal plan will also lift many out of poverty as well! If this isn't pie in the sky magical, I don't know what is! Sounds like taxpayers will be hosed again on this revenue neutral poverty reducing save the environment plan.

The Canadian government needs to formulate a plan where the Canadian economy is sustained in terms of economic strength while helping the environment. This is a tough task. The Conservative and the Liberal plans leave a lot of doubts as to how their plans will affect the environment or the Canadian economy. The Canadian governments of the future, whether they be Conservative or Liberal, must investigate the attempts of other countries and economic unions around the world to see which ones work in terms of affecting the economy and environment. Then the Canadian government can borrow bits and pieces of each one to cobble together a plan that is right for Canadians. Currently at this time neither the Conservatives or the Liberals seem to have any workable solution to this issue.

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