What struck me was the following, and it's an extension on what Ignatieff has argued before:
"Albertans are wary of any measure that looks like an extraction device from politicians down east. Clearly, you want to recycle the revenue that you get from a cap-and-trade system to incentivize green technology investment in the province of Alberta."
When Ignatieff first proposed a carbon tax, it came with a provincial component, wherein any revenue generated was returned to the jurisdiction in question. I always thought this a clever distinction, because it eliminates any notion of an eastern power grab. Ignatieff now uses the same formula under a cap and trade, which again should make the overall goal of cutting emissions more attractive to provinces with high output, because the citizens know that money will be redirected to encourage "green" projects in that province. One of the major problems with any national framework, this sense that provinces like Alberta will suffer, we will see a transfer of wealth to other parts of the country. I like this idea, because it removes the irritant, as well as applying pressure on the resident population to walk the walk. This idea, proposed by Ignatieff is "sellable", and it demonstrates a sensitivity.
I must say, I also liked the following characterization:
Ignatieff warned, however, that the controversial megaprojects that have sprung from the oilsands must become greener.
"We're operating this thing like it was the Klondike, and it's not the Klondike. We're going to be there for a century or more.
If you accept the premise that oil reserves will be developed, it isn't realistic to believe any economy would simply leave a valuable resource in the ground, then the above has some attraction. With what we know of human nature, how the world works, it's hard to entertain a complete shutdown, based on environmental considerations alone. Fatalistic, but realistic by any measure.
The current economic climate has done much to slow down development in the tar sands, the exponential surge in production people were predicting mere months ago has been considerably revised. When you consider the fact that the tar sands are effectively money in the bank, just a question of when to make the withdrawal, then the idea of the Klondike is a shrewd analogy. I've always argued that the "hell bent for leather" approach of the Alberta government didn't address a simple fact- you don't need to take it all now, it can be in done in such a way to provide reasonable, steady growth, without sacrificing everything else in the process. Ignatieff seems to be arguing for a slower approach, a long term view, which would be a welcome development in this debate. It's not like this view doesn't have proponents in Alberta, people like Lougheed and others have been arguing for a more sustainable, reasonable growth model for quite some time.
Making no bones about hard caps, provides a point of distinction. While the visit seems to be more of the same on the pandering front, which I've never necessarily disagreed with, Ignatieff, or more rightly the coverage of Ignatieff, looks to be more balanced.
Not to leave it on a sour note, but there's no way Ignatieff can actually believe this line:
Companies in the oil sands are calling for a price on carbon themselves.
Companies operating in the oil sands get it – they get that they’re leaving behind a legacy for our children and the environmental impact of their projects can’t be ignored.
Please, amoral multi-nationals only care about profit, any recognition of consequence or measures taken, are only done so because they are demanded by the political climate. Within that climate, these entities will do the bare minimum allowed to look credible, to remain viable in the public eye. Huge corporations don't have souls, I think we've seen this simple fact in spades recently, it's more about appeasing, than worrying about the "children". I'll see if I can get the photo of Ignatieff with his fingers crossed behind his back, when he uttered the above :) Smooth.