Monday, August 21, 2006

Pissing Off Alberta

Ignatieff has released his environmental policy, with the cornerstone idea being a revenue neutral system that rewards the environmentally conscious and punishes fossil fuel use. Gerard Kennedy offers the obvious criticism:
Gerard Kennedy, one of Ignatieff's rivals, called the platform "divisive" because it would hit some parts of the country -namely Alberta - harder than others.

In the past, Liberal leadership contenders have criticized bumping up taxes on regular gas as too reminiscent of the Liberal-era National Energy Program, which enraged Alberta and consigned the Liberals to electoral purgatory there.

"It's going to put a crimp into some of the investments flowing into the West related to the oil industry which is shared right across the country," Kennedy said Monday.

"What we need to do is create a consensus on how we're going to deal with Kyoto."

I actually asked Ignatieff a pointed question on this policy- pointing out that Alberta has more emissions than Ontario despite a quarter of the population, which translates into an asymmetry with regard to burden. I told him that Albertans would react angrily, and may not get past the "tax" issue to see any merit in his proposals. Ignatieff's response was that he felt he was doing what needed to be done, period.

Kennedy's concerns are valid, but "dealing with Kyoto" inevitably means dealing with Alberta through sheer logic. If Canada has any expectations of reducing emissions then it has to deal with the elephant in the room. Do we try to save the environment, or do we pander to appease the polluters?(the Harper agenda). Klein keeps spouting off about "clean coal" and environmentally friendly technology, so taken at his word, there would appear to be viable solutions available in the future that could offset oilpatch emissions. Ignatieff would be wise to use Klein's own salespitch against him.

Kennedy is correct to use the term "divisive" because Ignatieff's approach will only add fuel for narrow points of view in Alberta. The question then becomes, how do you deal with emissions without "hurting" Alberta? Offering incentives for efficiency is a great idea, but I also agree that the moron in North York, riding around in his Hummer should compensate the rest of us for his excessive behavior. Ignatieff told me that his ideas were spawned through consultation with Canadian environmental heavyweights, with the greatest expertise on solutions.

Kennedy is right, but so too is Ignatieff. The trick will be showing the merits and getting past kneejerk reactions. Canada's future may well hang in the balance. Moral imperative or political expediency?

4 comments:

foottothefire said...

As an Albertan my advice is go ahead and piss them off ... nothing but mindless conservatives here (other than me and 40% of the population).
Surveys have shown that 80% of Albertans place a clean environment near the top of the issue list and that doesn't mean the "conservation-lite" (AKA, do nothing approach) version touted by the Cons.

Steve V said...

"Surveys have shown that 80% of Albertans place a clean environment near the top of the issue list"

You do get a sense that average Canadians understand the sacrifices involved and are still prepared to move.

annecmiller said...

As another Albertan I agree with that advice wholeheartedly! Regardless of good or bad environmental policy, Conservative Albertans are not likely to be terribly happy about a Liberal government.

Steve V said...

anne

Don't bother trying to appeal to an electorate you won't reach anyways?