1:52 PM: I’m running late, had to get some things done in the press room and then head over to the mall to pick up a few necessities. So I missed the bulk of the afternoon keynote from Sheila Watt-Cloutier, former Canadian President and International Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council.
I did catch a bit of her address though, and what I heard was very interesting. She was largely talking about energy and climate change, also adding her perspective as an Inuit leader.
A few bullets: the Conservatives are doing nothing on the environment, the Liberals talked a lot but did very little as well. No matter which party is in government, she said we need more than words on climate change. We need a strong, comprehensive, meaningful plan for action.
She also added she worked with Stephane Dion on these issues, particularly when he was environment minister, and she said his commitment to these issues is substantial.
2:07 PM: It’s a two-speaker panel on Geopolitics and Canadian Interests in the North American Energy Market. First speaker is Michael Phelps. No, not that Michael Phelps. It’s the former chairman and CEO of Westcoast Energy Inc.
One of the things he said that struck me was that there is no will or consensus for meaningful action on climate change in the
Also, he said fossil fuels aren’t going away (well, they are running out, but you know what he means) so we need to make them cleaner and more sustainable, but also find, develop, and support as many energy alternatives and other forms of energy as possible.2:15 PM: We’ll never get to 0 carbon says Dan Gagnier, chairman of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, but we should get it as low as possible. He dreams about getting to 0, and I tries in my own life. But carbon is a fundamental element of the universe. But if we got to 80 per cent of our goal of 0, he said, he’d be ecstatic.
Phelps said you have to price carbon, and in his view the only way to do it effectively and meaningfully is through carbon taxation. And myself and the other five Dion loyalists in the room applaud, while the others look uncomfortable.
2:26 PM: Phelps says the only thing that will change consumer behaviour is price – in the context of gasoline prices, reducing consumption, and getting out/away from cars. Hard to disagree with that. If se saw gas regularly at over $2.00/litre, even the well-off would drive less.
Maybe we do need higher-priced gas? Eddie Goldenberg just breezed by, I should ask him how that would look on a campaign brochure…
2:32 PM: Questioner asks if you crazy panellists seriously want the Liberal Party to go our and campaign – again – on a carbon tax, because, seriously, were you around during the last election. OK, I editorialize, but that’s the gist.
Phelps gamely steps up and says he knows the politics of it. He’s looked at cap and trade but calls it opaque and open to gaming; carbon tax is still the right policy. BC did it and it’s working, but they don’t want to talk about it. He said “I’d be standing on a soap-box and saying you should use less carbon because you’re going to pay for it.” Still, he recognizes while it’s the right policy, politically it’s suicidal, “I’d rather do the
2:39 PM: Next questioner says he takes issue with the position that the last election was about a rejection of a carbon tax by the electorate (he didn’t mention if he believes it was Stephane’s English or something). We lost the last election on many things, he says. If it’s the right thing to do, we should do it, which gets strong applause, and not just from the Dionistas this time.
Gagnier says people need to understand the benefits, if they see it as tax they’ll run for the hills. There are carbon taxes in
I have to say, here is an issue where the gap between academia/policy wonkery and real politick is illustrated starkly. What do you do when you know, from a scientific, from an academic, from a fact-based discussion, what the right thing to do is, when you also know it is near death to sell politically. Because if you can’t get elected, you can’t do sweet all.
I’m not sure a carbon tax is necessarily unsaleable. I think we just did a particularly shitty job if selling it, and had a number of strikes against us before we even started. So I think it is possible for politicians to make these tough sells.
Should we go back to a carbon shift platform again, though? Well, I was talking with a friend yesterday about the need for our party to find some balls, and that would be pretty dammed ballsy. I’m certainly not eager to dive back into that pool, though. I’d need to see a lot more consensus, and public buy-in, before I’d support campaigning on it.
As a Dion guy, while I can’t help but feel a degree or ironic vindication, I also can’t help but wonder, where the hell were all these people when we were campaigning on this, and getting savaged on BS distortions? Now industry is coming out in favour, joining the environmental groups. We could have used them in 2008.
I guess my feeling is if they want us to put a carbon tax on the agenda, they’re going to need to step up and buy into the idea first. They should start campaigning for it, soften the ground, then maybe we’ll be comfortable jumping in. But not before.
2:55 PM: Next energy panel is up now, but I was writing through the break so I’m going to grab a beverage, back shortly.
3:07 PM: Really delicious treats in the coffee break; as a BCer I rightly choose a
We’re back with another panel, dubbed Clean Energy and
3:23 PM: And we’re back to a carbon tax again. I wonder how this very interesting debate would be going if this Hyatt was in
One panellist says even Exxon is in favour of a carbon tax now and if Exxon is in favour, he’s not sure who could possibly be still opposed – except, perhaps, Stephen Harper. Oh, I’m sure we could find a few others. Or Harper could...
3:29 PM: Another panellist makes an interesting point about thinking more broadly. In
3:45 PM: Hey, it's former Chretien-era natural resources minister Herb Daliwhal! Long time, no heard from. Is David Anderson here? Maybe he and Herb can arm-wrestle for old time's sake.
4:08 PM: Coffee break time again, lots of great conversation on the topics in the room continues out in the hall during the breaks. Lots of discussion on the policy and political merits of a carbon tax.
Meanwhile, saw Gerard Kennedy during the break, holding up a laptop as he stood in a corner, doing a skype webcam call back to the satellite
4:23 PM: Last panel of the day is on a digital economy strategy. Hope Stephen Harper is listening, his throne speech said
If we’re going to get into copyright though, let me just say, why in the hell does the copyright lobby have such a vice-grip on the nads of all our political parties? It pisses me off. Find some balls to bring sanity to copyright, there’s my digital economy plea.
Also, apparently they have the Internet on computers now.
4:29 PM: Maybe I’ve followed these issues too closely, as it crosses over into my day job, but I’m not really hearing anything yet that I haven’t heard before. Or anything about what we should do about it.
4:36 PM: I misread the session title, it’s not about the digital economy, it’s about culture and the digital world. And my interest level just dropped substantially. Expect light live blogging or here on out.
4:54 PM: Pretty sure I just heard a panellist ask if these questions coming in to the panel over twitter were “live” and saying that, if so, that’s cool? And they’re on a panel on something involving the digital world? Wait until they see how I can predict the weather with my phone!
5:10 PM: I’m sorry but I’m shaking my head about this call for cultural protection for Canadian cultural creators in a digital/Internet world. They need to stop playing the victim-card. You could say the fittest will survive, but it’s not just that.
Artists should look at the Internet as the best thing that ever happened to them. Why? Because it’s a low-cost transmission medium. No longer do creative professionals need a publishing house, or a broadcaster, to buy their show and broadcast it to audience and compensate them through a portion of advertising sales. That model is passé.
Smart content creators can use the Internet to bypass the middlemen and go straight to their audience. They need to monetize, but going direct to their audience, if they have content people value, will be cheaper for their audience and more lucrative for the artists.
So don’t kvetch to me about the need for cultural protectionism because of the web. The web is an opportunity they could seize – if they don’t insist on seeing themselves as victims in need of protection.