This is, unfortunately, indicative of the way Stéphane Dion has been leading the federal Liberal Party:
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion says he would place a price on carbon as part of his government’s commitment to environmental leadership, but he steered clear of calling for a tax, at least for now.
Mr. Dion told a forum for emerging environmental leaders Friday morning that it’s the government’s job to manage the economy and environment responsibly.
The Liberal Leader acknowledged that the concept of pricing carbon is still a work in progress for his party and the end result could be either a cap-and-trade system or a tax.
I was pretty pleased when Dion snuck up the middle to take the party leadership. It seemed as though, at last, both the major federal parties would have adult supervision. As it turns out, not so much (in either case).
Dion was elected to lead the Liberals in 2006 on a platform whose most interesting and prominent component was environmentalism: he went so far as to add it as a “third pillar” to the party’s traditional two priorities of social justice and economic growth. In addition to which, he was supposed to be both smart and stubborn, as evidenced by his handling of separatists in Quebec when he was the minister in charge of that file. Maybe Dion didn’t inspire as a leader, but look at what he did.
But it’s coming up on a year-and-a-half since then, and Dion’s party is still dithering around what the leader himself as presented as the key public-policy question of our time. I mean, no kidding it’s going to take a carbon tax or cap-and-trade, or more likely a combination of both in different sectors of the economy. This is as far as you’ve gotten?
Dion’s best bet, short of waiting for the Conservatives to self-destruct (which any party will, eventually, viz. the Liberals under Dion’s predecessor Paul Martin), is to be the guy who’s done his homework, who can make policy promises backed up by unimpeachable research and compelling argument. “Yes, we need a carbon tax, it should be this much on these commodities, here’s what that will do, these are the places where they’ve tried it, here are the experts who agree, and here are the economists who have projected the effects five, 15, 25 years out. Now, here are our cap-and-trade plans…”
If you want to be the government, you’ve got to prove you’re better than the one we have now.