Enviro rules in a sprawling country

MP Garth Turner gets fellow Liberal Ken Boshscoff to say some unintentionally revealing things in his latest MPTV clip today.

(For non-Canadians, Garth Turner is a maverick Member of Parliament, elected most recently as part of the governing Conservative Party but ejected for, basically, being a pain in the arse to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Now he’s sitting as a Liberal, the leading opposition party and the party that’s governed Canada most of its history. Turner’s a personal-finance expert by trade, a writer and TV host, who’s using his professional skills to get his own message out with a blog and regular emissions of video clips like this one.)

Boshcoff is proposing some sort of market-control mechanism to lower the price of gasoline. I can’t really make head or tail of it, but he likes to use the word “gouge” a lot. And economics seem to offend him.
In a six-minute chat with Boshcoff, who represents Thunder Bay–Rainy River in northwestern Ontario, Turner can’t quite get Boshcoff to explain what he’s up to, but does get him to utter gem after gem like this one about gasoline prices:

We’ve seen, in the [Greater Toronto Area], an oil shortage. And the prices still go up.

You don’t say.

Boshcoff represents a sprawling and sparsely populated constituency that’s heavily dependent on long-distance cargo hauling for, well, just about everything. There are even stretches of the federally funded Trans-Canada Highway through Boshcoff territory where you can’t find a self-serve gas station, very obviously because the full-service premium of a few cents a litre provides another couple of jobs for gas-station employees. He’s in a difficult political position, having been elected by people whose lifestyles, living hundreds of miles from the country’s economic centres, are probably unsustainable.

So Boshcoff’s doubtless doing what his voters would want. But as a matter of policy, he mustn’t be allowed to succeed with his plan, which even he can’t explain. Since it’s a private member’s bill he’s proposing, right before the summer break, he probably won’t.

As a matter of politics, well, things will get even worse for Boshcoff’s constituents if the Liberal Party’s environmental program should become law, and he’d probably have a very tough time voting for it in Parliament. In a sprawling country whose electoral system privileges the votes of people who live in far-flung communities, anything that requires people to pay more for their fossil fuels is going to be a hard sell.

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2 responses to “Enviro rules in a sprawling country

  1. The link in this post has one too many “http://”. Otherwise, good stuff!

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