If the polls are accurate, Stephen Harper will be reelected as prime minister.
This will give Harper authority to issue instructions to the Canadian negotiating team at the COP15 conference in Copenhagen next November.
That's where the nations of the world will set targets for greenhouse-gas emissions following the expiry of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012.
High arctic temperatures have probably raised the risk of runaway global warming, which will occur if the 350 to 950 billion tonnes of carbon starts escaping from permafrost. As UVic climate scientist Andrew Weaver has pointed out, if just one percent of the carbon escapes from permafrost each year, this has the potential to double carbon emissions worldwide each year.
So what does this have to do with B.C. NDP Leader Carole James and her sidekick, federal NDP Leader Jack Layton?
James had all sorts of issues that she could have raised against B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell.
James could have ripped Campbell for B.C. repeatedly registering the highest child-poverty rate in Canada. James could have nailed Campbell for the spending overruns on the unnecessary expansion to the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre. James could have highlighted Campbell's outrageously meanspirited welfare policies, which have led to so much homelessness in Vancouver.
But no, James chose instead to focus her greatest attention on Campbell's relatively benign carbon tax, which has largely been offset with cheques sent to every British Columbian. She was cheered along by her house leader, Mike Farnworth, who hails from Port Coquitlam.
Since then, Harper has gone on the offensive against federal Liberal Leader Stephane Dion's relatively benign carbon tax, which would be offset with income-tax cuts and other tax credits.
Harper has benefited from the B.C. NDP's opposition to a carbon tax; the Conservatives are polling exceptionally well in this province.
Federal NDP Leader Jack Layton has joined the chorus, saying he will never introduce a carbon tax, notwithstanding the threat of runaway global warming.
One academic who has voted NDP his entire life told me recently, "I hate the NDP." Why? Because of the party's position on the carbon tax.
Questions for Carole James:
1. What books have you read on climate change? Have you read George Monbiot's Heat? Tim Flannery's The Weather Makers? Hot Air by Mark Jaccard, Jeffrey Simpson, and Nic Rivers? Andrew Weaver's Keeping Our Cool: Canada in a Warming World? What is the basis for you leading your party to oppose a carbon tax? Do you understand what's at stake for future generations if we don't curb carbon emissions immediately?
2. Have you read SFU economist Krishna Pendakur's commentary in last week's Georgia Straight that shows how governments can offset any issues of social justice that arise out of a carbon tax?
3. How do you think history will judge your opposition to the carbon tax?
Questions for Jack Layton:
1. When do you realistically think you can have a cap-and-trade system in place?
2. What are you going to do to address the 50 percent of Canadian greenhouse-gas emissions that are not covered by a cap-and-trade system?
3. Did you read Pendakur's commentary, and is that enough to convince you to change your mind regarding a carbon tax?
4. What's your response to those of us who wonder if your staunch opposition to a carbon tax is linked to your party's close ties to the Canadian Auto Workers Union?
5. Would you have opposed a carbon tax if Carole James hadn't made this the centrepiece of her campaign to become the next premier of B.C.?
6. Before the 2004 election, you released a very detailed policy platform, which gave voters a good idea of where you stood on a wide range of issues. Why didn't you do the same before the 2006 and 2008 elections?
7. What do you say to a voter who might look at the federal Liberal platform or the federal Green platform and say, "Hey, these guys seem to have put some thought into what they will do if they're elected. I'm going to vote for them because the NDP and Conservatives are treating voters like we're stupid. The NDP and Conservatives put out one or two-page policy pronouncements on their Web sites. Where's the beef?" [Editor's note: the day after this blog posting appeared, the NDP released a comprehensive platform.]
Each of the leaders is free to use the comment bar below to respond to these questions.