Leading Canada Liberal Proposes Type of Carbon Tax
OTTAWA The man often regarded as the front-runner in the race to head Canada's opposition Liberal Party, Michael Ignatieff, proposed Monday a modified carbon tax to try to limit climate change.
Ignatieff also said that Canada would be unable to meet its emissions targets under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. The Conservative Party under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, which defeated the Liberals in January's election, also says Canada will not be able to meet its Kyoto obligations.
Unveiling his policy, Ignatieff said federal taxes on transportation fuels should be restructured to be heavier on those like gasoline and diesel that emit more carbon and lighter on cleaner natural gas and propane.
The restructured fuel taxes would be revenue-neutral -- ending up with the same tax bite.
"We're using tax policy to incentivize good behavior," said Marc Chalifoux, a spokesman for Ignatieff, who is a former Harvard professor.
Carbon taxes have tended to meet stiff opposition both in Canada and the United States, but Ignatieff said his proposal was one of several needed to prevent unacceptable damage from climate change.
Despite his concern for climate change, Ignatieff distanced himself from Liberals who have criticized Harper for declaring the impossibility of Canada meeting its Kyoto targets.
"Canada cannot now meet the Kyoto target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 6 percent below 1990 levels between 2008-2012 without spending billions of dollars buying emission credits from other countries," his policy paper said.
"Even so, we need to do what we can to work toward the Kyoto target."
Part of his policy does propose "limited purchases" of credits to contribute to projects in the developing world that would reduce emissions, but Chalifoux said this would not amount to the billions of dollars needed to meet Kyoto.
Ignatieff has also taken positions on Middle East policy closer to those of Harper than most of his Liberal rivals.
Harper ended more than 12 years of Liberal rule in January's election, replacing Prime Minister Paul Martin and prompting Martin to step down as Liberal leader.
The Liberals will choose their new chief in early December. Most Liberal leaders have gone on to become prime minister at some stage.