Sugar-crazed Official Opposition overlooks flaw in Clean Air amendments

Yesterday’s giant cake in the Bill C-30 committee room generated a bit of media attention, but probably not as much as some opposition members had hoped. Just as well. Most opposition members and onlookers failed to notice a fundamental flaw in the amendments the opposition offered up to the Canadian government’s Clean Air Act.

The amendments call for both a $20 levy (why don’t we just call it a tax) for every tonne of carbon a company emits above a pre-determined cap, and for Canada’s participation in an international carbon market.

I know some opposition members hate big business, but this is piling on. Carbon levies and carbon markets are two ways of accomplishing the same thing, which is to impose a cost on emissions that rise above a cap. We have to pick one or the other. If we choose both, then we’re essentially billing twice for the same tonne of carbon.

I doubt any of this matters to the drafters of the bill C-30 amendments. Why quibble over the fine points when you can zing the government with hyperbolic brain candy. The trouble (for the opposition) is, few people know—or care—what any of these stunts are supposed to mean.

Which means that, after all, the government could still roll out an emission trading scheme and successfully position itself as friendly to the environment.

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