With the potential removal of the Carbon Tax on the Progressive Conservative party's agenda, perhaps now is the time we should ask of the Carbon Tax's real purpose and take it from there.
First of all, lets take a look at the operation model of the Conservatives versus the Liberals versus the New Democrats in order to understand how each implements policy that emerge as governance for this bares some importance to the issue at hand. Keep in mind that all of the parties are free to operate as they choose, but generally they all embody and follow an internal set of guiding principles that underline the philosophy of each. Keep in mind that this is not a criticism of any of the parties but an insight into how together these parties make up what we know as government and policy. I'll try to keep this as brief as possible and get to the point quickly rather than rambling for which I'm often known when writing.
The point that I am trying to make with regard to environmental policy does apply to the world as a whole.
Ironically, as I wrote this I was attacked verbally by people in my community in Regent Park from outside of my apartment building who began their usual harassment. It took me about an hour to throw it off and continue this article. I certainly don't believe the government is as much a threat as people often conjecture as are some dangerous socially bound ideologies, which are more likely to usher in a dystopian state than any government would. Maybe its a case of choosing between the devil you know versus the devil that you don't know.
Just to indicate my lack of bias, I voted Liberal in the Provincial elections and NDP in the city of Toronto Mayoral election and have no qualms with saying so. I certainly have no intent to sway people's voting more so as I'd like to have them realistically consider the issues. After all, I'm not a politician nor do I work for the city or government. In fact, as of this writing, I am collecting social assistance, applying for disability support while working as a struggling author and content producer. Its tough, but regardless I still try to do my part for society and my country. I am 50 years old as well and certainly not a member of any pyramid scheme. Oh, and I just spent the last three days sick in bed.
I've limited the descriptions to the four major political parties in Canada (specifically for the purposes of policies being considered in Ontario as of this writing). Keep in mind that these descriptions are somewhat simplified for the point I'm making here. As well, I'd like to point out that I do not feel that businesses are profit hungry narcissists wreaking havoc upon society. I believe that we are well beyond the era of believing that business is one of the world's evils. We've seen more movement towards the responsible enterprise of business world wide thanks to a generation of CEOs who've prioritized the responsibility of business and vocal consumers.
ConservativesThe Conservative model of operation is geared toward minimal interference of the government with regard to business, infrastructure, social policy and quite often taxation. This is a party that seeks to improve prosperity by keeping constraints and tarifs from business, so as to encourage growth by attracting new business looking for lower operating costs. Its spending policies are geared towards the reduction of the deficit so as to lower the total interest payments that the government must make on the debt, which in turn frees up money for other things like infrastructure and social programs, both of which are generally low on the list of priorities. Privatization of infrastructure and social programs are often an approaches taken by the Conservative party. Environmental policy is often a last priority if at all in the Conservative model.
LiberalsThe Liberal model of operation is geared towards government management and financing of infrastructure, health care and social policy as funded by taxation and by purchasing bonds which increase the deficit and the total interest payments. Infrastructure, healthcare and social policy often does better under these conditions improving the economy by the jobs created by infrastructure, healthcare and social policy which in turn draws business. Liberal governance dictates that business and industry that damages the environment should be penalized or taxed, so as to create an incentive for such business and industry to innovate in order to reduce environmental risks and damage. This generally matches to a lesser degree the measures proposed by the Green Party and their model of operation.
New DemocratsThe New Democratic Party's model of operation is geared towards progressive change of the electoral system and some changes to how seats in the parliament are obtained and retained. In addition the New Democrats generally operate on a similar model of operation to the Liberals with regard to Infrastructure, healthcare and social policy, perhaps introducing some new approaches to financing and management of each area. Councillors and MPs have a more proactive responsibility in the instituting of the policies embraced by the New Democrats. Their environmental policy is again a balance between those of the Liberals and the Green Party, where penalties and taxation provide impetus for business and industry to innovate technology with the goal of eliminating environmentally damaging byproducts.
Green PartyThe Green Party's model of operation prioritizes environmental policy and environment preserving initiatives. Every policy geared towards the implementation of business, infrastructure, healthcare, social safety net takes environmental issues under close examination and hence they are the front line with regard to how government policy and implementation affects environment.
How This All Fits Together
Realistically speaking our system is the combination of these parties and their representation in the City Council, Queen's Park and the House Of Commons. That is, the issues addressed by the system will largely be reflected by the parties and their representatives who have seats in any of these areas of government. Hypothetically speaking, a majority Conservative government will mean that the total voting power in Council, Queen's Park or the House Of Commons favours the Conservatives (as they have more representatives). This power of representation filters down through the other parties and their respective voting power in representing their model of operation. So the issues that you feel strongly about and that are represented by any particular party only have as much of a voice and voting power as there are representatives who've been elected/appointed.
When hotbed issues like human rights, healthcare, employment, justice, immigration, abortion or environment come up, the public voice tends to lend a lot of sway as some of these issues are critical when it comes to election time, as that is how the representatives have their seat in the first place. So their voice is only as potent as the people who go to the polls during election time. That's the first place where we have our say in how society is governed and how policies become reality though that is only the first step.
The next step is for people to be active when it comes to these issues. Speaking about them and expressing their views in support of or against any particular issue or policy, as that will affect how policies are created and how they're voted upon in Council/Queen's Park/House Of Commons. That might include being vocal at a rally. It might mean a protest. It might mean being active on social media. It might mean writing to your representative about those issues. Anything to express your support or stance against anything that is currently being considered for policy or about to undergo a vote by the representatives.
Where Carbon Tax (Or Any Issue) Fits In
The upcoming changes to the province's Carbon Tax policy are one such example of a hotbed issue as this has many potential outcomes depending upon how the policy is handled (ie whether the policy is eradicated or not).
This issue is more about how each party handles a particular issue according to their operation model. So in this case we have a majority Conservative government whose policy is to remove operating constraints to encourage business growth. The existing Carbon Tax is one such policy that is on the slate for removal.
The predominant argument for the removal of the Carbon Tax is that it was a cash cow for the former provincial Liberal government and that is really bares no relevance to environment as human civilization only accounts for a relatively small percentage of overall carbon production in the environment. The Carbon Tax is imposing undue cost and limits upon local business and industry which is having an adverse effect upon how other businesses might evaluate Ontario as being hospitable to new facilities and operations. That in turn generates more revenue and invigorates the economy in the short term by putting the burden of profit directly onto the environment itself.
Let's take a look at the reason for the existence of the Carbon Tax. First of all, when it comes to the environment and the detriment that careless industry causes to the environment, the symptoms of the damage don't usually show up for a very long time. We're talking in the ball park of anywhere from a hundred to three hundred years. Considering that the industrial revolution started in the eighteen hundreds, that would be about right. That would give human kind about two hundred years of ever growing production of carbon emissions through a variety of means from towering chimney stacks to automobiles and other fossil fuel reliant vehicles. Though there's a lot of debate on this issue, we are beginning to see the effects two hundred years later as their cause has accumulated and grown exponentially around the world. But we're in Canada. But Canada is a part of the world, so our smog and carbon output affects our neighbours' world as well as our own.
So for two hundred years, the price for the era of industrial growth and the profits they've yielded human kind have all been paid for by the environment. The resources that kick started this revolution as well as the emissions resulting from their processing and production essentially all comes from and goes to the environment, while we take the money we've created as a result of this enhanced production and make bigger cities, build more houses, make more babies and drive more cars. Meanwhile the very untainted environment from which we extract resources grows ever smaller, meaning that the trees that breath carbon dioxide and covert it into their trunk are disappearing. They essentially were our front lines for the defense against the ever advancing levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere and they're disappearing as a result of the demand for more real estate upon which to build industry which in turn produces more and more carbon.
So, someone said:
Hey! there is no apparent penalty to prevent industry from putting the weight of their profits onto the environment, which means as long as there is no penalty, they won't invest in ways to improve the efficiency of refining and reduce the carbon emissions which will affect us in the future and be a threat to the generations to come.
So the Carbon Tax was born out of the idea that the government could provide the negative impetus to industry to research ways to improve their efficiency and reduce exhaust in the way of carbon. After all, if they didn't, they wouldn't benefit from having reduced Carbon Tax. The government then could take the extra capital and invest it into researching environmentally friendly technologies and alternative fuel sources that would reduce or completely eliminate the threat to the environment imposed by industry, resource extraction and refining. Not to mention they could fund programs to reestablish deforested areas and renew the ability of the environment to deal with our exhaust naturally and through innovative means. This would work to benefit us in the present as well as the future generations. As well, it established a growing precedent by example that could affect positive change exponentially.
The Carbon Tax was one solution of a variety of different solutions but in the end it was a start to tackling this problem and taking the first step to relieve the environment of the burden of cost for our growth as a species. After all, we need it more than it needs us.
So the Carbon Tax exists as a front line for this issue and is perhaps one of the most innovative approaches. Future policies instead might change it to reward business that invests money into environmentally friendly technologies or furthering the efficiency of resource extraction and refining. As well it affects the fossil fuel industry and has likely been one of the most influential factors (next to informed consumers) to result in the growing development and deployment of vehicles operating on alternative environmentally friendly fuels. The potential growth for industry that embraces environmentally friendly technologies is staggering, as they will completely eliminate those who don't. That's likely why some industries who've made little effort to change are so much against these new industry startups.
Not to demonize the Conservatives, but three of the parties and their representatives agree that eliminating the Carbon Tax will be a big step backwards with regard to confronting our responsibility to ensure that future generations will have an environment to sustain. As I said, we need it more than it needs us. Perhaps we'd better start by appreciating it a bit more and taking measures to protect it.
Brian Joseph Johns