Was Ottawa built upon “Mount Stupid?” Conservative banter about the #carbontax suggests true geography of Parliament Hill

You’d think that, coming from a bloodline that includes the likes of one of the greatest Canadians of all time, I might have a little more respect for our capital and the important work that is supposed to happen there. Regardless of my patriotic ties, I’m kind of ashamed to be Canadian at the moment.

My friend and colleague that specializes in carbon taxation, particularly with relevance to British Columbia, is frankly beside herself. While I’ve had my head buried in numerous other projects, she’s been agape over the “silliness” unfolding in our Canadian Parliament regarding carbon taxation. As per twitter, people are now playing drinking games over the number of times “carbon tax” is mentioned/slandered in question and answer period.

To sum up the written lines Harper has been feeding to our MPs, I’ll quote him:

“Canadians and people across the globe know, we have a government smart enough to reject dumb ideas like a $20 billion carbon tax.” (I’ll get back to deciphering the importance of this phrasing in a moment.)

In BC, we have a carbon tax. It has done nothing of the sort. In fact, BC’s population has gone up. BC’s GDP growth outpaced the Canadian average. And fuel use and carbon emissions during the same period have gone down. And by the way, BC is IN CANADA. (Read the full “Progress to Targets” Report. You’ll like it. Lots of colours.) Some even call it “The Most Sensible Tax of All”… and really smart economic minds agree with that statement. Enough with the gloating…

So what is this silliness happening on Parliament Hill?

@aaronwherry wrote a great article in Maclean’s summarizing what appears to be a rash of clamouring to the top of Mount Stupid:

Mount stupid

Mount Stupid. I’m sure we’ve all been there. I know I have. But maybe we can expect a little better from our “leaders?”

Yes. I am suggesting that the really smart people we have elected may be stuck in this place where they think they know just enough to know it all, giving them gumption to speak loudly about it.

MPs are suggesting (under Harper’s firm guidance, of course) that a carbon tax of any kind is dangerous nonsense and should be avoided at all costs. They are repeating this message at every prompt from the opposition, whether it is relevant or not.  They’re simply taking a page out of psychological advertising tactics (the mere-exposure effect, to be exact) book of corruption.

I say may, because there may be more to it. Harper’s statement, though seemingly directed at the NDP, may be strategically pointed to the South. You see, right now in the US, there is a coalition building in an unsuspected place: with Republicans. This short video spells it out much more effectively than I can:

What you may not know, is that BC is being looked at closely by policy makers in the US as an example of successful deployment of a revenue neutral carbon tax. Just sayin’.

Essentially, what we have is a Canadian Government that has repeated numerous times (I worked in intergovernmental relations at the time it was most in vogue… I almost want to throw up preparing to type this…) that the Canadian Government will align its climate policies with our largest and most important trading partner, the United States of America. A strategic and seemingly effective economic strategy, to be sure.

But Harper may as well be drinking oil for breakfast. And I’ll give the guy a small break: he cares about the prosperity of Canadians (mostly the already rich ones), and deterring the production and/or sale of a major commodity (which is what taxes can do) doesn’t feel right to him.

So do the math. Any stirrings of “Carbon Tax” in the US, are to be fretted about… but not directly. That would be rude. And Harper, I assume, wants to maintain some appearance of being Canadian. Instead, he is causing a stir in Canada, home of an existing carbon tax that is working… and making it seem like there’s no way in hell that could actually be the case.

“Canadians and people across the globe know, we have a government smart enough to reject dumb ideas like a $20 billion carbon tax.” – Harper

This silliness as my friend calls it, could very well be strategic silliness… directed at people outside of Canada. Regardless, it is backfiring because the knowing Canadians that DON’T live on Mount Stupid are reacting and speaking up:

We know in BC, that carbon pricing is an essential tool in the fight against climate change… but can only be bolstered and sustained at effective $100+/tonne levels if other jurisdictions get on board. Staying at $30/tonne will surely buy us 6+ degrees of warming and associated human civilization destruction.

But I digress. Kind of.

Thank you to my social media shy friend, who shall remain nameless, for bringing this to my attention and providing some excellent links. And thank you to those authors and contributors fighting for truth.

And finally, I leave you with a song – a musical tribute if you will – to our friends on “Mount Stupid”.

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3 Responses

  1. I hear what you’re saying about Ottawa. I try never to go there. Because it’s sick. It’s a sick culture. All they can think about is government and there are no real people in Ottawa, and you get captured by this inside-the-beltway debate, and it’s really unhealthy.

    🙂

  2. Now it’s happening in Australia.

    Is it because most politicians are lawyers, and winning is about convincing people rather than having an accurate view of reality?

  3. Whatever it is, Chris, it sure lacks ethics.

    Certainly, politics is about making decisions concerning interests; ideally, the interests of the broader public that voted a politician to that responsibility (note: I don’t use the word power here, but that is my idealist side showing).

    Unfortunately, the political culture does become about power, and the friends of politicians that wield it. Public interests do become tainted with personal or powerful ones…

    I also fear that those with influence and money realize the coming climate crisis is real – and their chance at survival and persistence depends on their sustained power and influence. A sort of plot twist, if you will.

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