Canada’s politicians refuse to make sense.

(Photo credit: “Stephane Dion,” Flickr/ycanada_news)

So Liberal leader Stéphane Dion raised the idea of a carbon tax and then wandered off, refusing to offer any details. Crucially, he’s declined to emphasize what should be a pretty important point — that in his view, a tax on CO2-generating fossil fuels would be matched with tax cuts in other areas, like income and corporate profits.

A legion of economists, including pretty conservative ones, say this is a good idea, but he’s given them nothing to work with, so they’re keeping quiet. Instead, he’s left the field to his critics, who are equally legion.

Tactically, this is dumb.

Yet what’s astounding to me is how, even given this massive advantage, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and NDP leader Jack Layton have managed to come off like ninnies. Econo-blogger Stephen Gordon puts it well:

The CPC is targeting the people who don’t want to pay those costs, and Stéphane Dion is going after those who do. The NDP’s niche appears to be voters who want someone else to pay the costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

So as usual, nobody has a credible plan on the table.


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