If the Grits' centrepiece Green Shift carbon-tax proposal really would "wreak havoc on Canada's economy, destroy jobs, [and] weaken business at a time of global uncertainty," as Stephen Harper charged yesterday,
- Sweden wouldn't have adopted a carbon-tax regime
- Neither would B.C., whose popular program closely mirrors the Green Shift plan
- Nor would Stephane Dion, former cabinet minister in a Liberal government that presided over most of the past decade of successive budget surplus unmatched among G-8 nations
Alas for the Grits, the Green Shift hasn't resonated with Canadians because,
- The environment has slipped among Canadians' top priorities to third, trailing the economy and healthcare, as the Canadian economy has weakened
- The Grits did a poor job of promoting the Green Shift since its unveiling in the spring
- In the hectic pre-election period, Dion caved to caucus pressure and diluted the plan with so many exemptions it's now difficult to sell the Green Shift as a bold initiative
The Green Shift also looks to me like a stealth wealth-redistribution scheme, given that much of the proceeds from the new carbon taxes are dedicated to tax relief and income supports for low-income Canadians. That may or may not be a laudable goal, depending on your politics, but it further muddies the exact purpose of the Green Shift proposal.
Globe and Mail reporter Tu Thanh Ha has a useful comparison chart of the Swedish, B.C. and Green Shift elements.
"I like the Green Shift, and prefer it over cap-and-trade [the NDP's proposed alternative]," economist Dale Orr of Global Insight (Canada) tells The Big Picture. "But I would have preferred that the proceeds be targeted at R&D into alternative fuels and other environmental advances, to be consistent with the proposal's ostensible purpose."