Saturday, October 8, 2016

Star Readers Write

These days, my faith in the future is quite limited. The proliferation of war and the ongoing reluctance of governments to do anything substantive about climate change, despite its increasingly obvious effects, both speak to the refusal of our species to rise above our base animal impulses and use the consciousness that supposedly separates us from other animals for the common good. A few letters from today's Star on carbon pricing help illustrate our shortcomings.

I'll begin with two reasonable missives, followed by what I take to be the majority view:
Provinces have till 2018 to price carbon pollution, Oct. 4

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall predicts that the national rising minimum carbon price the federal government announced will damage his province’s economy and send businesses fleeing to the U.S. Happily, his prediction will not happen for two reasons. First, B.C.’s carbon tax rose annually for five years and its economy remained one of the strongest in the country. The revenue neutral tax also proved to be stimulative. Sales of the province’s clean-tech companies increased by 48 per cent in the two years following the tax’s introduction.

Second, the federal government can impose border tax adjustments, which is why it is essential for the Canadian government to get involved in carbon pricing. Only our national government can impose the tax on products from carbon-intense and trade-exposed industries without similar carbon pricing measures to ensure Canadian companies are protected from unfair competition. Border carbon tax adjustments are sanctioned by the World Trade Organization.

Contrary to Mr. Wall’s unfounded fears, I predict the rising carbon price will help diversify Saskatchewan’s economy as it will all provinces and territories, so long as the price keeps rising and the revenue is returned to the people.

Cheryl McNamara, Toronto

Conservative MP Denis Lebel thinks the federal government should “get out of the way and let the provinces do their job” dealing with climate change. Does he really expect action from Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall, whose government has described climate change as “a misguided dogma that has no basis in reality”?

Wall isn’t the only Canadian premier putting off effective action to fight climate change. Apparently the heat waves, droughts, forest fires and storms haven’t got bad enough yet. Are they planning to wait until our coastal cities are flooded?

It’s impossible to negotiate a climate change action plan with a climate change denier. Wall and other apologists for Big Oil have stalled and obfuscated far too long, selling out our children’s future. The scientific debate is over and climate experts agree we must act now. Our country needs strong federal leadership on an effective national carbon tax strategy.

Norm Beach, Toronto

Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s imposition of his National Energy Program in 1980 was aimed squarely at Alberta. I know. I was there.

Today, Justin Trudeau’s threatened unilateral imposition of a national carbon tax, his “national environmental program,” is also aimed squarely at Alberta where its results will be equally inequitable and devastating.

Ill-thought out, PET soon had to back off from some of the more onerous fiscal terms of his National Energy Program. I expect the same to happen with Justin Trudeau’s version of putting his boot on Alberta’s throat.

“Like father, like son,” and “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Trite but true!

Mike Priaro, Calgary

Why not simply call Trudeau’s carbon pricing plan for what it is? Another Liberal inspired tax to bolster government (in this case, provincial government) coffers. Perhaps the federal government will also benefit? Trudeau will probably do what Chrétien did — reduce transfer payments.

I recall another Liberal, Dalton McGuinty, who also introduced something called the Ontario Health Premium. The province’s health-care system promptly declined and many previously OHIP-covered services were de-listed.

What we can ascertain by all this is that, ultimately, the taxpaying public is going to suffer — again.

J. Brunins, Britt, Ont.


  1. We've become something of a "free ride" society, Lorne. We live unsustainably, effectively pillaging the birthright of future generations, and turn angry and sullen at anything that might even slightly alleviate that on the groundless assumption that we might be diminished. This is a base attitude, one on which no society can long survive. It is the stuff of the lowest minds, those who gladly see themselves as taxpayers rather than citizens. Our culture of the past several decades has spawned a great many of these small people, some of them, such as Brad Wall, have reached high office.

    1. That we have let things come to this is an indictment of our whole species, Mound. It would be easy enough to blame only our politicians for their cowardice, but we are all complicit, given that anything that remotely smacks of sacrifice for the collective good is something we refuse to consider; otherwise, our democracy would surely yield better results.

  2. .. riddle me this ..

    On the matter of Pacific Northwest LNG .. ie a natural gas liquefication facility to be plopped onto the shores of 'tidewater' .. that mystical floaty place where Canada's resources are scooped up by storks for delivery to feed the frenzied Asian economies..

    Twas 'Science' y'know.. and 'traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples' plus some other related 'science' that led Trudeau, Catherine McKenna & Christy Clark to this astounding conclusion.. It was all about the 'emissions' .. and that's why 'they have a plan' ...

    40 years ago Science & Biology studied Lelu Island and the Flora Bank & determined this was a unique place where millions of juvenile salmon staged in the estuary of the Skeena River.. and subsequent studies determined the sediments of the Flora Bank & its eel grass were 'one of a kind' on the planet, sustaining millions upon millions of juvenile salmon & anchoring an entire marine food chain.. a place where outgoing freshwaters met the changing of the saltwater tides.

    But sorry to digress, Lorne.. the Economy must grow, the TFW's must come & deals with Petronas must be honored eh? And Energy subsidies ad perpetuem.

    And those darn wild salmon.. a keychain species.. and all the interconnected species & ecologies should just 'take one for the economy' and get extinct. Goodbye Orca, wild fisheries, bear, eagle, sea otter.. uh First Nations harvest, the local flounder, shellfish.. just goodbye & sayanoro .. we'll just have to get by with Asian supertankers blasting any remaining cetaceans - whales - up onto the shore to escape their sonar

    Its a sellout to make Stephen Harper & Ray Novak & Laureen proud.. and I can't wait for examples of the 'traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples' or the 'Science' that Trudeau Christy Clark & Catherine McKenna are pimping ..

    1. There are those who undoubtedly find some comfort in the rhetoric of our current political 'leaders,' Salamander, and trumpet the style of the new government over the old. Like so much in our society today, this too is mere superficiality. The interconnectedness of which you speak is conveniently ignored by far too many as they rationalize our descent into environmental and climatic chaos. Bitter truths seem to be increasingly anathema to our cossetted Western ways, and so must be ignored in favour of empty rhetoric and hollow policies.

  3. The proliferation of war and lack of action on global warming has little to do with the base instincts of the masses and EVERYTHING to do with corrupt bribe-taking politicians representing the military industrial complex and Big Oil corporations over the people.

    The real problem is a lack of fortitude among some people to stand up to this corruption. It's a process that's growing steadily worse. The bribe takers and bribe payers don't see anything wrong with what they're doing. They see nothing wrong with the economy even though were in the midst of an 8-year economic crisis. Like serial killers, they can only be stopped by some form of external force.

    The solution is to repeat some good history along with the bad: a return to the progressive New Deal era that began with FDR and ended with Reagan. Green New Deal.

    1. I suspect that the political will would be easier to find, Anon, if people were less inclined to scream bloody murder when subjects like taxation are brought up and treated as obscenities by the masses.