Stéphane Dion has asked Canadians to engage in an honest discussion of his "Green Shift" carbon tax proposal. I thank the Liberal leader for his maturity in engaging in an open policy discussion of a matter of critical importance to the country, unlike the Conservative government which has adopted the strategy of inaction and denial on the climate change issue, while using immature and dishonest rhetoric rather than substantive policy analysis in opposing Dion's proposal. While I ultimately conclude for reasons to follow that the proposal as it currently stands is bad policy, the potential exists for the Liberals and NDP to come together to create broader-ranging, multifaceted plan that makes better policy sense. I encourage both parties to seriously examine this "third option" instead of allowing their differences to prevent substantial action from being taken (as was the case on the Afghanistan file.)
He goes on to provide some of the most intelligent and thoughtful analysis I've read so far on this issue, discussing the pros and cons of not only the Liberal plan but the NDP plan as well, and making some concrete suggestions as to how the best elements of both might be combined.
Before proceeding to some of the pros and cons in general terms, though, it should be pointed out that there is nothing incompatible about these policy options. A hybrid system in which there is a hard cap and emissions under that cap are taxed is possible. Moreover, neither one of these options is viable in and of itself. Any basis policy framework aimed at reducing carbon emissions must also be supplemented by additional measures such as investments in green technology and low-interest loans for home retrofitting (just to give two examples.) Moreover, both increase the cost of goods and thereby distribute the burdens addressing climate change on to individuals, leaving lower income persons particularly at risk. Therefore, climate change policies must include provisions that soften the blow to the working poor, who are often not in a position to adapt to a less carbon-intensive lifestyle.
It goes on, with even most of the commenters making rational, productive contributions to the discussion. Read and learn.
This is how the grownups do it, folks.