Last night, I decided to head downtown the NDP campaign launch to hear Jack Layton speak, to local NDP candidates, and their supporters. (I was also caught on tape by Gloria Galloway of the Globe and Mail) For those of you who know my politics, you will likely be surprised to hear that went to NDP event at all. I was little surprised too.
I decided to go for three reasons. First, I am long-time supporter of Linda Duncan’s, having known her long before she was NDP candidate. In fact, Linda was first people involved in environmental issues met after moving to Edmonton. Second, I have become increasingly alarmed by some of statements made by some of Ms. Duncan’s caucus colleagues with respect to the oilsands and with respect to Alberta. Thomas Mulcair, an MP the Montreal Riding of Outremont, has referred the oilsands as “the worst pollution on the planet.” I have great deal of respect for Mr. Mulcair, and was unabashed fan of his during tenure as Quebec Minister of Environment, but statements such as those detract from his otherwise good ideas relating to internalizing the costs of environmental damage the oil sands (and presumably on industries as well). Third, and most of interested to hear how Mr. Layton would handle these issues in launching his national campaign here in Edmonton. I am glad I went, but no closer to being NDP supporter today was yesterday. That probably surprises no one.
Since I am mainly environment- and energy-focused, I was interested to see how Mr. Layton would deal with some issues he and his caucus have raised recently. In his morning kick-off speech before loading up the plane for Edmonton, Mr Layton promised to,”stop the subsidies to big polluters and invest that money to foster the new energy economy.” In his speech last night in Edmonton, you would given the oil sands and climate change had disappeared from agenda. Any discussion these “big polluters” was absent, and Mr. Layton only made mention of Mr Harper’s, “environmental record,”, which drew cheers and jeers from gathered faithful. The climate had clearly stopped changing, perhaps due to earth hour.
Mr. Layton made no mention of other (often contradictory) energy policies such as ensuring low gasoline and heating fuel prices for consumers, or a punitive cap-and-trade system on industrial emissions. Denis Bevington, MP for the Western Arctic who was also present last night, has written in the past about the potential for a cap-and-trade system to, “crack down on big industrial polluters,” and “generate billions annually.” Mr. Layton made no mention of plans tackle GHG emissions, despite recently supporting the Climate Change Accountability Act which, again according to Mr. Bevington, “sets science-based (GHG) emission targets matching the European Union’s.” Putting these statements together implies a cap-and-trade policy which would lead to carbon prices upwards of $200/ton (according to Pembina Institute modeling work) and generate and re-distribute up to $70 billion per year from the sale of emissions permits. I am very much in favour of carbon pricing, although not in favour of particular policy. Regardless, to suggest $70 billion per year emissions reduction and income redistribution policy, it would seem like the time to address it would during election campaign. To put that into perspective, total government revenue for this year is projected to be $218 billion, so $70 billion is far from small potatoes.
The rest of speech was devoted to health care, daycare, helping poor familes and seniors make ends meet and, somewhat surprisingly, Edmonton’s EXPO bid. I would not have imagined to NDP in favour such events, not surprised that Linda Duncan was strong advocate for bringing such event to Edmonton. So, no big surprises, and few disappointments.
I expect and hope at NDP candidates face some tough questions at doors of Edmonton voters as party’s platform and vision for Alberta really is. Without anything are un-funded promises of increased social programs, will hard to gain traction in province that fears taxes almost as much as un-repaired potholes. Albertans should be worried about prospect of cap-and-trade system “cracking down” on province’s industrial sector, while distributing revenues to social programs which benefit other region disproportionately. While the C.D. Howe Institute show that aggressive GHG policy need not harmful to Albertans, are questions should asking about the design of such system given the possibility that NDP and the Liberals could hold balance of power, along with the Bloc Quebecois (the Liberals are proposing cap-and-trade regime is time around, by way). I hope Albertans will ask some these questions of NDP candidates, and the asking them of Ms. Duncan.
11 responses to “An evening with Jack”
A good post-nicely balanced.
Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Much appreciated.
[…] impact on the environment. In a campaign stop in Edmonton this weekend, NDP leader Jack Layton only briefly mentioned the environment, suggesting that he may have been avoiding the issue while in Alberta (he also did […]
I also am hoping that Edmontonians will attempt to uncover what exactly the party’s vision and platform is for the province. As an Edmontonian studying in Ottawa, I have had the opportunity to hear Linda Duncan’s viewpoint and I applaud most of her efforts. I agree, however, that in order for Albertans to be receptive to alternatives, they must be tangible ones and not just sallow promises. In a province as beautifully complex as Alberta, a political strategy that lauds an industry only when it stands before cannot be very effective.
I’m also kind of hung up on the “new energy economy” concept….
Thanks for reading and commenting. I think we are likely in about the same boat with respect to Linda’s views on many issues. I have always been willing to vote for people who I think will add to the level of debate and discussion in the country, and who I feel represent important views well, even if I don’t share all of the views. I put Linda in that group. That said, I will temper it with a view of the overall party policies and the influence that party is likely to have.
I also agree that “the new energy economy” is a difficult term. I think people are using some pretty fuzzy accounting in a lot of cases. The fundamental reality remains that most new energy sources require subsidies over and above the benefits to the Canadian economy to make them viable, and these subsidies must be paid for from somewhere. If you combine that with a view that we should “use the subsidies we are currently paying to big polluters”, you ignore the important difference between a tax expenditure (i.e. a tax not collected) and a government expenditure (i.e. a cheque).
Glad to have you reading.
there is something wrong with this bit of prose <> maybe an over-exuberant cut&paste (?)
I am a bit surprised to find you sliding into ‘pundits with vague political generalizations’ territory, but ok, no worries, I will say that I think it is unfair to keep your political position, whatever it may be, in the bag, statements like “those of you who know my politics” may tend to make this blog into a more-or-less exclusive club – is that what you wanted for it? I didn’t think so but I could be wrong, I was going to twit you for preening in front of Gloria Galloway (!?) of the Globe and Mail (!?) but, after watching it twice decided not to 🙂 you do seem to know the ground
one problem for a politician with deep roots in labour is that reconciling union/environment points of view is difficult (if not impossible), here in Toronto for example the Greenpeace office is in a complex of small office buildings dominated by unions, and you can hear the environmentalists going on about how the ‘great schism’ between labour and the environment has finally been bridged just about every time they open their mouths to speak (events have a tendency towards the halls-for-rent in the aforesaid buildings y’unnerstan) … if wishes were horses beggars would ride
and the easy way out of such a position is to speak from both sides of your face at appropriate times, which is what I have seen our Jackie-boy doing this long time, my daughter lives in Linda Duncan’s riding, I agree with you that Duncan was not elected because she is NDP … possibly some charismatic quality? though I met her and must have missed it somehow
since you have opened the political Pandora’s box so explicity here … I am interested to know where you think people with concerns about the environment can most effectively put their votes? not the Green Party (unfortunately) unless you think that Don Drummond is somehow a green economist with his ‘growth is inevitable’ fol-de-rol 🙂
be well, David Wilson.
PS – a ‘preview’ capability for comments would be helpful for those of us with bad vision, incipient alzheimer’s & unsteady fingers, just a thought …
Sorry to surprise you with my generalizations. My capital-letter politics are undefined, both personally and publicly. I don’t hold a membership in any party, and in fact never have. My small-letter politics tend toward the fiscal conservative, given that I believe in markets not big government. I do however believe that governments play important roles in adjusting market signals through instruments such as carbon prices, sin taxes, etc. I think Andrew Coyne put it best when he said that by most reasonable definitions, I am a socialist as well, since I do believe in publicly provided health care, employment insurance, minimum guaranteed incomes, etc. but I temper this with a view toward again creating the correct incentives to minimize government expenditure while achieving goals.
With respect to Ms Galloway, the fact that I ended up on camera was very accidental, I can assure you. I spent a good deal of time (poorly, it turns out) trying to determine where I could stand in order to minimize the possibility of being on camera, in part to avoid the capital-letter political interpretations that people would make. I found myself out of the view of the television cameras, but standing and chatting with Ms. Galloway, who had recently quoted me in her write-ups on the budget. I could perhaps have declined to answer her questions, but that seemed rude.
With respect to your question about where an environmental vote should go, I hope to be able to get to that over the next little while as parties unveil their platforms. I will likely concentrate more on oil sands and climate policy as those are the issues I know best, but we’ll see what the parties put forward.
Thanks again for reading and commenting.
PS Not sure if WordPress has a preview capability for comments. I don’t have that functionality for my replies either, so I doubt it is available. If see a blog that has that option, please let me know and perhaps I can see how it is integrated in their site design. Also, re my typo, the error is now fixed. Thanks.
ai ai ai, how was I to know that your gizmo would whack what was between the chevrons? (see what I mean about preview?)
the error is maybe somewhere about here I thinks – “loading up the plane for Edmonton, Mr Layton talked about” if it is one
this looks like it might be in the zone:
15 bucks a year … anyway, worth a look
Thanks. My site is managed by @ericwarnke so I will check in with him to see if he has any ideas before putting something in place. $15/year is not bad.
[…] visiting Alberta during the campaign, Mr. Layton only briefly mentioned his party’s position on the oil sands, which is quickly replacing the old Central Canadian […]