Crawl Across the Ocean

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Here's The Plan

So, I found a link to Stéphane Dion's climate change plan in the unlikeliest of places, a newspaper website! To be specific, it was in Cameron Smith's column. So maybe there is progress online at the Star, even if they haven't updated the look of their hideous site since the summer of '87.

Anyway, the plan is long, detailed, and, I have to say, very good. Comparing it my off-the-cuff Global Warming policy wishlist from a couple of years back, just about everything is included. Matching our fuel efficiency standards to tough standards set by California and other progressive states, a tough emission trading program, support for green infrastructure, an expanded and committed green power subsidy program, tougher standards for appliances - even the potential for expanding the hydro-electric grid in an east-west fashion is mentioned.

True, it also includes a raft of tax exemptions which I consider overly bureaucratic, and it leaves the door open for purchasing credits overseas which I consider both a tough sell politically, and hard to implement so that it actually helps the planet, and it argues that emissions trading can take the place of a carbon tax and is more efficient policy-wise, which I'm not completely sold on, but nitpicking aside, the odds of us getting a better plan from a Federal politician are about the same as the odds of Dion giving away state secrets to the French because of his dual-citizenship, which is to say, as close to zero as makes no difference.

One of the things I found interesting was what Dion has to say about the plans the Liberals were implementing, but were interrupted by the Conservatives. Keep in mind that Dion was environment minister for roughly 18 months, the second half of 2004, and all of 2005 - not a long time to start making a noticeable difference in emissions (does the Conservative plan call for any action at all in the next 9 months? - they've been in power for 9 already - hmm, I went to the CPC part website to find a link to their environmental plan, but I can't find it. Seriously, I see a tacky red-tinted picture of Dion surrounded by Riddler-style question marks which is all very well, but can you find their policy on their site anywhere? I can't).

Anyway, here are some quotes from Dion's plan (which he doesn't seem to be ashamed of like the Conservatives are of theirs):

"Energy Efficiency Retrofits

Tax credits can help homeowners cover the cost of energy-efficiency retrofits. The former Liberal government implemented a number of programs to encourage energy efficiency retrofits, including the EnerGuide for Houses Retrofit Incentive(EGHRI). This program, which provided grants up to a maximum of $3 458 per household, was discontinued by the Harper Conservative government in May 2006."


"Our plan to create a carbon market had three key components. They were:
1. The Climate Fund, to help domestic projects produce real emissions reductions in Canada and thereby create a supply of domestically produced emissions reductions credits, or offsets;
2. Binding provisions for Large Final Emitters, requiring them to achieve specific emissions reductions goals on a specific timeline, and creating a demand for the emissions reductions credits that were produced; and,
3. An Offset System, enabling projects in Canada to produce verified emissions
reductions that would have been bought and sold in the carbon market.

Each of these elements was set to begin in February of this year. They were cancelled
by the new Conservative government without any coherent policy or program to replace


"In the 2005 budget, the former Liberal government announced long-term funding for both the RPPI and WPPI, and committed to a target of 5500MW of renewable-energy production (4000MW of wind and 1500MW other renewable). In their spring budget, the new Conservative government failed to fund these programs. This decision will significantly impact the development of meaningful wind and renewable energy industries in Canada, as international and domestic investors lose faith in the commitment of the federal government to support a stable and meaningful wind power sector. The fate of WPPI and the new RPPI are uncertain and developers of alternative energy projects are anxious to learn the fate of this important set of incentives."

So when you read stuff like this, as you will...

"Conservatives have given notice that they're going to hold Dion accountable for previous Liberal shortcomings.

Dion, a former environment minister, ran for the party leadership on a green platform. His backers even used green scarves, T-shirts and caps as identity badges.

Yet under the Liberals, greenhouse gas emissions rose 30 per cent.

"He was part of the Liberal team during the entire Liberal debacle on the environment," John Baird, president of the Treasury Board, told CBC News on Monday. "He can't escape the collective responsibility."

The Conservatives are pleased that the Liberals finally have a leader because the Opposition will now have to make its policies clear, Baird said.

Dion has "no concrete plan" to deal with climate change, and now "he's going to have to talk about facts," said Baird."

...keep in mind that (as the CBC article points out), Dion actually does have a plan, much of which was only starting to be implemented when the Conservatives took power, cancelled just about every climate change program going and put nothing in its place.


  • That's certainly the spin Dion would like to give it, but there's certainly plenty of evidence to the contrary. I, too, like what Dion proposes, but what he's proposing now isn't the same as what the government was actually doing. And I pressed him and pressed him about why he didn't implement his current plan back when he was environment minister in my interview with him, but he wouldn't respond.

    My problem isn't with Dion's proposals, because, like you say, they're pretty good. (They should be good, as the ideas largely came from the David Suzuki Foundation.) And they're certainly better than what the Conservatives propose. My problem is with believing that he'll actually implement those policies if he wins the next election, rather than just using them as "campaign from the left, govern from the right" campaign promises. And that isn't a partisan response; it's a genuine, well-founded concern.

    By Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist, at 6:53 AM  

  • Hey I'm always concerned, especially when politicians promise to do something that will set off the right wing noise machine, that they won't have the guts to see something through when elected, so I can appreciate the concern. One thing I hope is that Dion's past in facing down the separatists may help in this regard. Also, putting such a high priority on the issue will make it political suicide for Dion to win power and not take action, and will also give him political capital to 'do what he was elected to do'.

    As for your three links of 'plenty of evidence to the contrary', they all point to the same C.D. Howe study. First, C.D. Howe isn't one of my favourite sources for accurate information, and second their study suggested the green plan would have cut emissions by 175 Mt (which they characterize as 'far short of the 230 to 300' needed for us to meet our Kyoto target) but doesn't seem so horrible to me.

    As for the history, you ask in your post why the Liberals didn't start taking action until their last year in power, without pointing out that Dion was not Minister of Environment until their last year of power.

    If I was going to conjecture, I'd guess that Dion has been wanting the government to take action on global warming for a long time, but Chretien, being from the old school, wasn't really interested in taking much action and kept Dion away from the environment portfolio.

    Suggesting, as many do, that Dion is somehow responsible for what the Liberals did on the environment when he was minister of intergovernmental affairs seems a litte unreasonable in my opinion. Even the minister in charge of a specific portfolio has limited scope for action on a topic if not supported strongly by the party leader, never mind ministers of other portfolios.

    Once Martin was in power, it seemed he was more amenable to taking action on global warming, so he put Dion in charge of the environment, and started providing (some) funding in the budgets for taking action.

    Your questions to Dion about why the Liberals didn't do more forced Dion to either equivicate or come out and place blame on former Liberal leaders, and it doesn't seem all that unreasonable to me that Dion is unwilling to badmouth Chretien or Martin after the fact, even if he had disagreements with them in cabinet over the issue.

    By Blogger Declan, at 9:21 AM  

  • Declan,

    I hope you're right--really, I do, because Dion does have a shot at winning the next election. It just seems like a whole lot of excuses-making and wishful thinking, though, when Liberal majority governments have always run from the left and governed from the right.

    I suppose it's lucky, then, that the Liberals aren't terribly likely to get a majority government (and neither, of course, is anyone else), so if they do win, they'll likely be held in check by the NDP and possibly even the Greens. And that may just be enough to do the trick.

    By Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist, at 12:55 PM  

  • Indeed. Dion's plan and the NDP plan on global wrming are more similar than they are different, so a minority Liberal government supported by the NDP might be the ideal result.

    I guess the question is which currently Conserviatve seats might flip to the Liberals or NDP (or Green, although I consider a Green seat unlikely) in an election. I figure Vancouver-Kingsway is in the bag, but after that, I guess we'll see.

    By Blogger Declan, at 1:37 PM  

  • I predict one and only one Green seat in the next election: Elizabeth May's, wherever she decides to run.

    By Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist, at 4:59 PM  

  • If May persists in her plan to run in Cape Breton, she will not be in the House. I guess we'll see.

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 6:07 PM  

  • Great post.

    By Blogger KevinG, at 9:01 PM  

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