But it's still remarkable that an Ipsos Reid poll this week found that a small majority of Canadians, 52 per cent, endorse the idea of a carbon tax.
Even more noteworthy is that petroleum-rich Alberta, where political wisdom has it that any carbon tax would be an anathema that would fan Western separation, showed the third-strongest provincial support for the idea. It was 54 per cent, behind only B.C. with 55 per cent and Atlantic Canada with 59.
The poll also concludes that Canadians don't really understand the nuances of a carbon tax, but the word TAX certainly doesn't demand a learning curve. Speaking of curves, Ignatieff may well be ahead on this one, as it would appear the public is more receptive than first thought.
Ralph Klein responds to the Alberta findings in a typical way:
Premier Ralph Klein says he doubts a majority of Albertans would be willing to pay extra taxes to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
Klein was responding Tuesday to a media-sponsored poll in which more than 50 per cent of Canadians and a slighter higher percentage of Albertans said they would support a carbon tax on gasoline and other fuels to promote conservation. The premier described the Ipsos-Reid poll as insufficient because it didn't show how much people would be willing to pay to reduce emissions.
"You know it's nice to say that we would support a carbon tax, until you have to dig into your pocket and come up with the money," Klein said.
"So the question is will they support a carbon tax if it costs them $10 more a month or what if it's $100 more a month? We don't know."
Man of the people, until the people don't share the unchecked ideal of greed and unfettered expansion. The Alberta numbers are incredibly refreshing, and strangely responsible, given the perceived tension between environment and economy.
People understand taxes, so I don't think anyone can dismiss these findings as theoretical. Obviously, the idea of a carbon tax needs to be fleshed out, but the tax neutral position of Ignatieff is an excellent carrot and stick approach. I must admit, I was somewhat disappointed at the other candidates who ran away from Ignatieff's idea, primarily because it looked like a political albatross. Hopefully, polls like this one eliminate the stigma of a carbon tax and kudos to Ignatieff for having the courage to propose something that puts principle before politics.
Prairie Wranglers has an excellent entry on the topic.