You used to be able to count on the NDP being the boldest party on the environment. That was their issue for a time. Well no longer. The former party of the environment have surrendered their principles once and for all on this issue.
The NDP used to be in full agreement with the environmental groups and individuals like David Suzuki (in fact I remember when I was at the University of Toronto when David Suzuki came to speak, the event was sponsored by Jack Layton's NDP), but no longer, they've thrown in the towel on the environment in favour of trying to become a more populist party. More interested in proposing policies aimed at saving a few dollars here (ATM fees, knocking a cent or two off the price of gas) than actually meaningfully taking on climate change.
How else do you explain their strong opposition to tax shifting? Jack Layton says: "We don't see putting a charge on the backs of individual Canadians through taxes as the way to go." Does that sound like something an NDP leader would say in reference to tax shifting? I'm thinking he's just upset that Dion proposed this policy before he did and he feels duty bound to treat anything coming from the Liberals as inherently evil.
Not to mention Layton being completely dishonest about what policy is on offer here. It won't harm low-income Canadians as it is said that the policy includes "programs aimed particularly at cushioning the blow for lower-income and rural Canadians who'd be hardest hit by increased fuel and electricity costs." Not to mention it does NOT affect prices at the pump. So then why does the NDP have a problem with this?
If low income earners aren't hard hit then this is a progressive policy and one that is the soundest for the environment - those who consume less energy will have MORE money in their pocket (certainly more then they would then if the price of gas dropped a cent or two) and very few will pay more. The multi-millionaire with a huge mansion (or a few of them) will pay more for the massive amount of energy his/her home consumes. You would think the NDP would agree with that wouldn't you? Why not? Because it's a Liberal idea and that's about all there is to it.
I can imagine what the NDP response would be to these arguments - they'd make reference to the past saying people who care about the environment can't vote Liberal because greenhouse gasses went up (though the NDP remain dishonest about what the record really is), but when it comes to the environment what matters most is the future and who is putting forth the best policies NOW to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions substantially over the next decade.
Do you think ANYONE (except NDP partisans of course) will agree in the next election that the NDP have the best policies to accomplish this goal?
Instead it will be the Liberals who will be universally seen by environmental groups to have the most sound plan. NDP supporters may say "we don't care what about environmental groups think!", well Jack Layton sure used to care, so what's happened here?
The NDP will say "the Liberals didn't vote on our no confidence motion on the environment - we obviously care more!", well if that were true then you would endorse policies that will get the job done on the environment not oppose them just because they are coming from a party you want to destroy. And you wouldn't support re-electing a government that has done nothing on the environment and has made us an international pariah on this issue.
Once the NDP discover that people care more about what parties would implement in the next parliament than what motions they voted on in the last then they will probably say "don't trust the Liberals, they won't actually implement these policies!" Of course that would be an admission that the policies being proposed are actually sound and better than what the NDP have on offer. Not to mention Jack Layton has given Stéphane Dion high praise, referring to him as a “committed Canadian and a man of principle and conviction” so the argument that you can't trust Dion doesn't fly.
And so in the next election the message to NDP voters will be clear: If you care about the environment and implementing the policies we need to meaningfully address climate change then the Liberals have the best policies to get the job done and you as an environmentally conscious person will have more money in your pocket as an added benefit.
While the NDP give up on the environment in their opposition to this policy, Conservatives continue down a path of failing Canadians on economic policy with their blind opposition to tax shifting (which will be the subject of the next post on Canadian politics).
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