Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm Wrong, Michael Ignatieff's Right

It's all my fault. I didn't get what he was really talking about when he praised Athabasca's bitumen as a "key to national unity" in Canada. The Tar Sands, or rather the Tar Sands greenhouse gas emissions, or rather the rapidly expanding Tar Sands greenhouse gas emissions may just be the key to unlocking Canada's fragile national unity.

Provinces like Ontario and Quebec, British Columbia and Manitoba are beginning to suspect the Wiley Harper, Canada's top coyote, will end up slipping them the carbon bill for Alberta and Saskatchewan's Tar Sands production. From the Toronto Star:

"I don't think it takes a genius to figure out that ... they want to continue to develop those (oil sands) and obviously if they are developed there may have to be larger greenhouse gas emission (cuts) elsewhere in the country in order to meet our targets," Ontario Environment Minister John Gerretsen told reporters Sunday.

It may be hard for governments in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Manitoba to remain chummy with oil-rich provinces if they feel they're taking a hit for a tarsands boom. "Whether or not it's going to be the next national unity issue, I'll leave that to the columnists," Gerretsen said.

Let's face it. When it comes to avoiding at all costs the greenhouse gas problem, the Wiley Harper is trying to pound 10-pounds of wet crap into a 5-pound paper bag. That's why he's proposing an emissions cut protocol that's weaker than our initial Kyoto obligations. Remember that line about how figures don't lie but liars figure. In this case Harper has merely changed the figures, going for a 2006 baseline instead of the 1990 baseline specified by Kyoto.

Harper may just be hand-delivering to the Liberals the greatest Christmas gift they could ever hope for, a wedge issue that could reverberate through every province the Libs need to reclaim. It would be dandy if the Libs had a leader who was on the right side of this argument but I suppose there's always time for that.

I know how to solve this, an idea even the Liberals can understand. Simply adopt the German approach to emissions regulation, what they call the "budget approach." Count the legs, divide by two, and then tell each province this is your carbon budget and this is your share and this is your share and so on. After all, doesn't that conform to the treasured Canadian value of universality? Of course it does.

If this issue gains traction, the next government won't be Conservative and it can tackle the "20 by 20 from 2006" chicanery. That never was more than a bookkeeping entry conjured up by a minority government without consultation with either the opposition parties or the provinces. There is absolutely no consensus on that notion and the Wiley Harper knows it.
It was disappointing to read Paul Martin's comments on the Tar Sands this weekend. He wants them expanded and he wants the emissions problem put on Washington's books because, after all, the US is getting that oil. Guess who would love that idea? China. India and China. They'd love it because it would let them offload their emissions onto the countries buying their stuff and, judging by the shelves at WalMart, that'd be us. I still like Paul Martin but this was one of the most boneheaded ideas I've ever heard come out of his head.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Join the United Party of Canada