Almost absurd to even suggest, given the Conservatives are currently accusing the NDP of advocating, even though the party doesn't support a carbon tax, a testament to how some see the mere mention as politically advantageous. However, if one delves deep into the problems that have plagued the Liberal Party of Canada, a "rethink" on abandoning the carbon tax idea is warranted.
In an effort to be all things to everyone, the Liberals have ended up being no things to nobody. Other parties take strong stances, and while they alienate, they also build up a core, devoted base. In addition, there is a certain authenticity in the idea of standing behind a principle. For instance, the NDP and Conservatives both hold certain ideals that don't necessarily translate to majority support, and yet they have cobbled together formidable coalitions. What is the Liberal constituent? More and more, a wishy washy "middle" ground, which is entirely practical but hardly conveys any moxy or distinguishing quality.
The carbon tax is sound economic and environmental policy. The carbon tax has already been implemented successfully in Canada. The carbon tax has the support of the very people that will be most affected, the oil and gas industry. Most of all, support of a carbon tax is a philosophical commitment that speaks to a core commitment, across a host of files.
As well, a carbon tax is considered politically toxic given what happened to the Liberals in 2008, and for that reason complete taboo. The mere mention of the word within Liberal circles sends us scrambling for the exits, we can't distance ourselves fast enough. That said, the party is still associated with the Liberals, mention carbon tax and you immediately make the connection. With this reality in mind, when Liberals pledge they no longer support what they previously did- with passion I might add- it rings hollow, people assume we are still "closet" carbon tax proponents. So, we have a double negative, the spectre of underlying support, as well as the perception that we don't stand for anything, afraid to stick our necks out, cowering in the face of controversy. Herein lies the entire problem with the good ship Liberal.
If you want to deal with GHG's, then a carbon tax is an effective way to curb emissions, as well as reward cleaner energy sources, it is a transformational regime. Rather than retreat in the name of political expediency, a fighting party doubles down on an idea that speaks to conviction. In addition, given current humble realities, the Liberals are "free" in a sense to redefine their constituency and stand firm. I will always find it amusing that we Liberals can champion a key policy with committed zeal, then suddenly turn our backs in the name of fear and calculations. Did we really believe in a carbon tax? Did we knock on doors and emotionally defend the idea in the name of conviction, what we felt was right for the economy and society? If you answered yes, then that is the bottom line and we should continue the fight, because we believe it is just and necessary. This isn't to dismiss the very real problems with easy "TAX, TAX, TAX" soundbites, only that it comes down to a question of policy convenience or real commitment.
I'd rather go down fighting for true ideals, then devote myself to some party of appeasement, reactive rather than steadfast. If the carbon tax is something you genuinely support, if it addresses certain core problems in the most effective way, then you don't abandon in the name of political calculation, you plant your feet and stand firm. If that is the Liberal attitude, I assure we will be ultimately rewarded, because in the end we will be a party with a clear identity and purpose.
This is one Liberal that still PROUDLY supports a carbon tax and will welcome any leadership candidate that has the stones to push the discussion.