The Liberal Party released their carbon taxation plan today, and I’d say it’s… okay. It does a lot of what a carbon taxation scheme should, of course, but it misses two major points.
Firstly, there’s no tax on gasoline. I understand that gasoline taxes are unpopular, but the lack of a gas tax in a carbon taxation plan when you are taxing literally every other fossil fuel seems like staggering pandering to me. I don’t even think a gas tax is unsellable – say “look, we’re going to tax gas, yes, but the gas taxes are going to be specifically redirected into a fund to improve public transportation so that in five years you can take a hybrid bus from Chilliwack to the Bay of Fundy or from your home to your grandma’s back yard.” The longer you let people think that their old lifestyles are sustainable – and they just aren’t – the harder it’s going to be to tell them the truth.
Secondly, the tax is revenue-neutral, erring on the side of costing a bit of money. I understand that the Liberals want to make carbon taxation as painless as possible by lowering income taxes at the same time. But this idea is flawed for two reasons:
1.) We desperately need massive energy infrastructure investment. Canada has too much oil power generation as it is; we need to replace that with solar, tidal and wind ASAP, and additional revenues created by a carbon tax in the short term could help fund these initiatives.
2.) Carbon taxation in the short run is revenue neutral, but in the long run it is presumably revenue-lowering because given time everybody will find ecological ways to avoid paying the tax. Which is good, but that means eventually you have to jack income taxes back up to compensate. I don’t look forward to the squabbling when that happens.
Still, on the whole, it’s an all-right plan, a solid B+ effort. Could have been much, much worse.