Hard questions for NDP leaders Carole James and Jack Layton

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.




Sep 27, 2008 at 7:46am

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.

I know more than one academic who feels similarly. However, Layton isn't trying to get the votes of these academics or of David Suzuki and other environmentalists (who voted NDP in the past), just like he isn't trying to get the votes of the marijuana activists this time.

Layton has learned from Carole James, that there are even more other votes to be had if you hammer the "unfair to ordinary people" angle and appease the non-experts with a complex, further down the road cap and trade which make it look like you are still an environmentalist.

Of course, cap and trade will also raise prices. And since well documented studies show it is noticeable less efficient than a carbon tax, it will raise them at least as much, even if it is restricted to 50% of emissions. But, Layton has also figured out it is sufficiently complex that if he doesn't promise any money back to anyone, people won't think it costs anything. After all, the NDP wouldn't throw those living in or near poverty under the bus for votes, would it?

Clever and sick strategy and it just might work. Harper will get his majority and Layton will get noticeably increased seats. Seems to be what the MSM wanted all along. Our planet will suffer and David Suzuki and those who know better will weep.

Hate the NDP? Layton hates the planet these days because it doesn't get him enough votes.


Sep 28, 2008 at 1:45pm

Here is a relevant report comparing the costs and benefits of a carbon tax to cap and trade:

<a href="http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/89xx/doc8934/toc.htm" target="_blank">www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/89xx/doc8934/toc.htm</a>

Specifically, available research suggests that in the near term, the net benefits (benefits minus costs) of a tax could be roughly five times greater than the net benefits of an inflexible cap.2 Put another way, a given long-term emission-reduction target could be met by a tax at a fraction of the cost of an inflexible cap-and-trade program.

If it costs roughly 5 times as much to achieve the same emission reductions in Layton's fixed cap and trade than in the Green Party and Liberal plans, that means it will cost Canadians with low incomes roughly five times as much. And yet, Layton offers them no relief for the simple reason that he wants people to think a carbon tax costs them and cap and trade doesn't. The CBO concludes that any cap and trade plan must provide financial relief in the lower income brackets. Even the Republicans will heed this advice, and yet Layton chooses to ignore it.

Note the CBO is nonpartisan and has the mandate of providing reliable, objective information on issues involve government budgetary matters.


Sep 29, 2008 at 12:05am

More Liberal drivel Charlie.

Not only has Layton read Flannery's book, the author himself was a guest speaker at the NDP's last federal convention in Quebec City.

You're giving away your Liberal connections when you stoop to using childish and cheesy editorial gimmicks, like your use of the word "sidekick". It's the sort of thing people expect on Fox news.

Rod Smelser


Sep 29, 2008 at 3:01am

Mr. Smelser, aren't you interested in the answers to the above questions?

Perry Ritthaler

Apr 19, 2011 at 11:09am

Dear Mr. Ritthaler:

On behalf of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, I would like to acknowledge your e-mail regarding an issue which falls within the responsibilities of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.

Please be assured that your comments have been carefully noted. I have taken the liberty of forwarding a copy of your e-mail to the Minister, so that she may be made aware of your views.

Thank you for writing to the Prime Minister. For more information on the Government's initiatives, you may wish to visit the Prime Minister's Web site, at www.pm.gc.ca.

M.F. Bustos
Executive Correspondence Services
for the Prime Minister's Office
Services de la correspondance
de la haute direction
pour le Cabinet du Premier ministre

>>> From : pritthaler@digitalmindcoach.com Received : 07 Apr 2011 12:48:24 PM >>>

>>> Subject : PM Web Site Comments - Opportunity to build votes untapped. >>>>

Date: 2011/4/7 12:59:53 PM
Name/Nom : Perry Ritthaler
E-Mail/Adresse électronique : pritthaler@digitalmindcoach.com
Address/Adresse : 105-406-16th avenue north
City/Adresse : Creston
Province : BC
Postal Code/Code postal : V0B 1G5
Telephone/Téléphone : 250-428-5232

Comments/Commentaires : Winning a majority vote for your Conservative
political party may mean going where no other political leader has gone
in this election. People on disability pensions also have a vote and if
you do something, even if it is small, for disabled people you will
appear like a saint and may also gain a vote from people that vote with
their hearts and minds and also many disabled people that seldom go to
the poles. This will also add a little more ying and yang to help soften
your hard corporate image created by giving such a large tax break to
corporations while so many of Canadians live on the poverty line and are
feeling the pinch of new provincial government programs implemented in
BC and Ontario through the HST. Psychology to gain more popularity in
people`s eyes can work in this idea, as well as you playing a musical
instrument on television. Thank you for your important time required to
read this email.

Rod Flynn

Sep 23, 2011 at 11:52am

Id like to know what if anything you are going to do to help those of us on ODSP? Try liveing on what we get its like being punished for being sick? My last vote went to non confadence.Looking like me and many others just may do the same thing again. No talk abou ODSP at all again ..why??