Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Michael Byers takes issue with NDP's attack on green shift

In the midst of an article where he spends the bulk of his time advocating a name change as the panacea for the NDP and far too little time on what really matters (policy reform), political science professor and former (and future?) NDP candidate Michael Byers has an interesting observation on NDP environmental policy in the last election:

In the last federal election, the NDP took the simple route of favouring cap-and-trade over carbon taxes. It ignored the fact that climate change will only ever be controlled by an across-the-board system of carbon pricing that includes both cap-and-trade and a carbon tax of some kind. A better approach would have been to support the intent of St├ęphane Dion's proposal while identifying specific flaws, such as the failure to direct the resulting revenue into alternative sources of energy and an improved national rail network.
An interesting observation that both vindicates the Stephane Dion Green Shift (with the caveat of minor reforms around the disbursment of the funds raised) and without saying it outright, rejects the NDP strategy last election of demonizing the Green Shift, a strategy that didn't win it friends with the environmental movement and didn't help Carole James and the BC NDP much either when they tried it against Gordon Campbell's BC Liberals.

Of course, that didn't stop the professor from singing from the hymm book during the campaign.

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers

10 comments:

A reader said...

I don't think it vindicates the Green Shift at all, which was, if you're honest about it, not universally accepted in the environmental movement, which is itself not homogenous by any means (something the last BC election proved rather well, if you were actually following all the details, Jeff).

And if you think that explaining during a campaign that you're supporting the intent of a thing while criticizing all its details is a winning strategic approach, then you're being pretty politically disingenuous.

But, by all means, spin it out for all it's worth. Fact remains that Dion asked Byers to run for him, but Byers chose the NDP instead, favouring its environmental policy over the one you guys went with last time. And Byers has already said he's hoping to run for the party again.

Now, which policy is it you'll be supporting this time? Because your caucus voted to support Jack's bill on cap-and-trade again in this session, even after Ignatieff took over the leadership. Much as it did in the last Parliament, under Dion's, until Dion dreamed up the Green Shift (Ignatieff's original leadership policy proposal) instead.

So who's been vindicated now, I wonder? Looks like Layton originally took the correct approach, which the Liberals have finally come around to.

A BCer in Toronto said...

A few things here actually, A Reader.

*Yes, Byers does vindicate the green shift. He quibbles with some minor points of implementation, but says the NDP should have supported the thrust of the carbon tax, and says a mixture of carbon tax and cap and trade is needed to address climate change.

*Incidentally, that was exactly the Liberal policy: to do both cap and trade and carbon tax. The carbon tax we could get up and running sooner, cap and trade would come as the system is negotiated with other jurisdictions and a market is created.

*As for the BC election, I didn't say all environmental groups, I said "a strategy that didn't win it friends with the environmental movement and didn't help Carole James and the BC NDP much either" and I think that's an entirely accurate statement.

*Byers wanted to run for the Liberals. The reason he didn't had little to nothing to do with environmental policy. He wanted to be parachuted into a riding of his choice. Dion wanted him to face an open nomination. So Byers went with his second choice. C'est la vie.

*You're trying to claim cap and trade as some kind of exclusive NDP property? That's silly. As I said, cap and trade was always party of the Liberal policy. It was both cap and trade AND carbon tax, like Byers supports in the article, and not the Layton cap and trade only approach.

*Coming around to Layton's position, really? Read Byers again...

In the last federal election, the NDP took the simple route of favouring cap-and-trade over carbon taxes. It ignored the fact that climate change will only ever be controlled by an across-the-board system of carbon pricing that includes both cap-and-trade and a carbon tax of some kind. A better approach would have been to support the intent of St├ęphane Dion's proposal while identifying specific flaws, such as the failure to direct the resulting revenue into alternative sources of energy and an improved national rail network.

... and tell me who is coming around where, exactly.

RuralSandi said...

Well A reader...perhaps Byers should make up his mind.

Greg said...

I am not sure where this gets us. Dion is gone and your present leader has denounced the green shift and is actively courting the oil barons of Calgary. Are your advocating the overthrow of Iggy in favor of a Dion restoration? Or, are you just feeling bored today?

A BCer in Toronto said...

Does it need to get us anywhere, Greg?

I just found it interesting that, after an election where the NDP demonized Liberal environmental policy, one of their star candidates is now signing a vastly different tune. Particularly given that that platform failed, and has been abandoned, in no small part (but not in whole, to be sure) due to the demonization campaign launched by Byers' party, a campaign which he took part it.

We haven't denounced the carbon shift, we still think it's effective policy. We've just decided we're not going to run on it anymore because the people have made clear they're not interested, in no small part due to the aforementioned demonization campaign.

So given all that, I just found Byers comments on the environmental policy rather interesting, and worthy of note.

Darwin O'Connor said...

There has been a debate within the NDP about Carbon Taxes vs Cap and Trade for several years. It continues to this day.

Greg said...

I just found it interesting that, after an election where the NDP demonized Liberal environmental policy, one of their star candidates is now signing a vastly different tune.

Sorry, is it uncommon for members of parties to question party tactics after elections? If it is, it's news. If not, I will stick to the "you were bored" hypothesis.

ch said...

There is a big difference between putting forward a cap and trade and badmouthing carbon taxes. Ignatieff has never badmouthed carbon taxes, claimed they were bad and hurt people. Layton has. I talked with Byers about this during the election and he was just your typical NDP mouthpiece.

Perhaps Byers has now learned or perhaps he just doesn't like the fact that slamming carbon taxes didn't do more for the NDP. Who knows? From my interactions with him, I don't care.

Barcs said...

Quick question Jeff.

The voters have dismissed the Green shift... "the people have made clear they're not interested"

So you are not running on it.

But you think it is effective policy: "we still think it's effective policy."

So.. if the liberals are elected, are you going to put in your "Effective policy" against the wishes of the public that voted you in? Or dismiss the principle that you believe in for the sake of political expediency and staying in power.

I only ask because it is the same question you keep asking of Harper and his "Hidden agenda".

What other gems are part of the liberal hidden agenda that will be brought out after the election?

A BCer in Toronto said...

Barcs,

If, by chance, I was clued-in to the Liberals' top-secret hidden agenda, do you think I could actually tell you about it?