Monday, October 17, 2016

Now For The Hard Part

Justin Trudeau's decision to put a price on carbon -- over the objections of some of the provinces and territories -- is a signal that the hard part has begun. Robin Sears writes:

Justin Trudeau’s decision to devote a large chunk of his accumulated political capital imposing a clear, mandatory path on pricing carbon is the first of several big choices he faces, each of which will help determine his survival and his legacy.

He is about to discover the first of many ironies about choice in political life. Many enemies, and even some friends, will always be angry with your choice, especially big decisions on risky projects. They’re hedging their risks, betting on your failure.

Your internal opponents and your political opposition will attack every choice as dangerous, irresponsible, too late, too expensive — fill in the blank. It’s insurance for them, if you stumble. And curiously, it’s a guaranteed media hit.

There are more difficult decisions to come, like re-engaging in United Nations forces around the world and renegotiating a healthcare agreement with the provinces. There are lessons in each of these tasks; and we'll see how well the Liberals have learned them.

But there are also lessons for the opposition parties:

Justin Trudeau’s opponents need to understand their certain failure in challenging a big political choice with scary fairy tales and niggling, whining attack. To succeed in persuading Canadians to come to their vision of a national future — they need to offer one!

Listening to Conservatives whinge about adding a quarter a litre to gas prices and then claiming “billions and billions” of revenue harm — as a strategy on climate change — will make even their own mothers sigh in quiet frustration. New Democrats who want to move votes, cannot simply say no to this pipeline and no to that pipeline, then claim there are not opposed to pipelines per se. Or that they have a plan for the safe, efficient transport of oil and gas — unless they outline what theirs is and why it is better.

As a nation, we now must face an array of tough choices about which we have hesitated and prevaricated overlong. A majority of voters endorsed that message last October. To consider other political choices Canadians will first expect New Democrats and Conservatives to offer an alternative vision on how to integrate First Nations into decisions on resource development, not to simply sneer “too little, too late!”

Both opposition parties could offer dramatically different visions than Trudeau's. But being the parties of no will lead nowhere. The Republicans have been The Party of No for twenty-five years. Look at where -- and who -- that has got them.

Image: Quotesgram


Steve said...

I know its impossible but it would be a nice fantasy to see the carbon tax devoted to an industrial renewal policy. For example an coast to coast Hydrogen Highway and nuture of a fuel cell powered future.

Owen Gray said...

Given the fact that the provinces have control of that money, a coast to coast scheme of any kind is not very likely, Steve.

The Mound of Sound said...

The ultimate failure is that politics, being the "art of the possible," will opt for a political response to a scientific problem. When the original 2C target was fixed, it was a political number. The current, 1.5C target is also a political number completely detached from reality. We know that we have already "locked in" 1.5C of warming with just current atmospheric GHG loading. Every burned tank of SUV juice goes straight atop that 1.5C.

Perhaps the most telling flaw in the government's carbon pricing plan is any statement of what they want to achieve from it, some basic metric by which the success of their policy can be assessed. Where do we need to be? By when? How do they propose to get there? When you eliminate that sort of target and a means to verify it, whatever initiative you impose is both fail safe and strictly gestural.

Why this really matters is because of the time factor. Time is not on our side and gestural responses squander time we don't have to waste. Harper kicked the problem down the road. Justin may be kicking it to the curb.

Owen Gray said...

All indications are that the planet may have passed the tipping point, Mound. Really tough decisions lie ahead -- and we still waltz around, not keeping our eye on the clock.

The Mound of Sound said...

It's somewhat akin to the way we wage war today, Owen. We commit forces without any clear idea of what we're out to achieve and how we'll do it. We go in without any meaningful grasp of how we'll prevail or even what victory would look like. It's a deeply flawed process that is incapable of much more than "whack a mole" conflict that hands not merely the initiative but also the tactical and strategic advantage to our adversary.

In Afghanistan our side had the Taliban at every disadvantage - in raw numbers, in firepower, in mobility, communications and intelligence gathering. We had the latest field artillery, drones, attack helicopters, strike fighters, tanks and armoured fighting vehicles all manned by highly trained soldiers. Arrayed against us was a gaggle of illiterate Afghan farm boys with Korean war vintage small arms. Yet they managed to defeat All the King's Horses and All the King's Men by bleeding us periodically, enough to get the folks at home fed up, and then outwaiting us. We left the bad guys holding the field which, by any definition, means they won. We lost about 160 lives, hundreds of seriously wounded, a small fortune in revenues and degraded weaponry and equipment - and for what?

Notice that, in the aftermath of the Afghanistan fiasco, there has been no accounting of what happened, how it went wrong or even what we did right? No one has accepted the fact of our defeat much less responsibility for it. That's the state of today's leadership - military and political and it's an abrogation that freely crosses party lines.

Owen Gray said...

How many Wall Streeters have gone to jail in the aftermath of the Wall Street Meltdown, Mound? I believe there was Bernie Madoff and one other Brahmin. Everyone wants to take credit for profits. No one accepts responsibility for losses.