I got home from work today to find that the local Conservative candidate (or more likely volunteers canvassing on his behalf) had actually gotten into my building, and because I wasn't in, had shoved several oversized and glossy pieces of right wing propaganda into my door jam. Lovely. A treat. Something pleasing to read as I prepared dinner.
And what gloriously imaginative reading! See below for the front and back of the more sensational of the two documents.
So let's look at this a bit. On the front we have a giant headline: "This man will cost you money". Really? How's he going to do that? Do I have to buy him? How is he, personally, going to cost me, personally, money? Let's see what he has to say in his little quote bubble. Oh my! What a shocking, and informative quote: "Very seriously, a carbon tax". Hmm. How's that going to work? Let's look at his very poorly photoshopped in grocery bag, shall we. What does that say? "Please pay more". Oh my!
Over to the back of this in depth exposé from everyone's favourite reactionist party.
Well, here is something concerning. A quote from that most unbiased of thinktanks, the Fraser Institute. A quote, to be exact, from Diane Katz, head of energy and environment policy. The fact that energy and environment go together in one heading says, I think, enough about her point of reference for the topic, but let's see what she has to say for herself. "...A carbon tax will increase the price of everything." Well. There you have it.
We'll skip the lettuce for a moment, and go on to the next quote. Don't worry, we'll come back to the lettuce shortly.
Our next quote comes from one Peter A. Nelson, executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association. "As a result of (Dion's) carbon taxes, prices of consumer goods and food would rise." And another. "The average consumer would see this rise in the form of paying $8 for a head of lettuce at your local grocery store." Well. I'm sure that Peter A. Nelson knows everything there is to know about trucking. I'm not sure how that qualifies him to make commodity price forecasts. I would hazard to guess that his real concerns lie more along the lines of the potential loss of profit if the cost of gas were to climb too high. A valid concern. It is unfortunate that his industry is going to have to face certain crisis in coming years because our current dependence on fossil fuels is not going to be possible in the near future. Perhaps Mr. Peter A. Nelson should actually be lobbying for the creation of alternative fuels. If the trucking industry got behind the development of more environmentally responsible transportation we might actually see developments sooner. Think about it Peter, it makes sense.
Back to the lettuce. An iceberg lettuce with a giant pricetag reading "$8 Lettuce".
Let's think about this. A head of iceberg lettuce currently costs somewhere in the neighbourhood of $1.50-$2. I'm no mathematician. I'm no economist. I'm not so hot on the whole multiplying and percentages thing. However, it strikes me as hugely comical to claim that a $10 per tonne tax on fossil fuels would translate into a quadrupling in the price of lettuce. It just isn't logical. A $10/tonne increase in the cost of fuel. A $6/head increase in the cost of lettuce. Really? Really? Those trucks must travel light! I can't figure out how many lettuces each truck must carry. Perhaps 20? More? Someone with math skills help me out on this.
A small increase in price would make sense. It will cost more to ship goods, it should cost more to buy them. That's the whole idea. Perhaps grocery story chains will be more likely to purchase more locally produced foods, rather than trucking vegetables up from California or South America. This would be good for the economy. It would be healthier for us. Hmm. I don't know. This sounds like a bad idea.
I don't know enough about the carbon tax plan to say whether I think it would have a long term, beneficial impact on our environment. I do know that the carbon tax plan of both the Liberals and the Greens is revenue neutral. That is - they plan to lower other taxes so that people aren't paying significantly more. The idea is to redistribute how taxes are collected in order to promote environmental change. I don't think any party would put forward a plan that would mean an immediate quadrupling in the cost of food. This kind of shock and horror advertising really disgusts me. It has no real basis in fact, and just stirs up a lot of unnecessary fear. How very George W. Bush it is. Let's terrify the populace into submission!
Let's move down the page. Next we have a big banner reading "Can you afford to pay more with Stéphane Dion?" This is followed by another block of text: "Stéphane Dion. Not a leader. Not worth the risk". Here's the thing. Yes, this whole pamphlet is telling us what's wrong with the Liberal platform, according to the Conservative party. Fair enough. But do they really need to include the personal attacks. If I hadn't already had a bad taste in my mouth from the idiocy of their environmental stance, I would have been turned off by their personal attack on the leader of their main competition. It is so entirely cowardly to sit behind your little fortress of self-righteousness, telling us nothing about how you are going to improve the country, while continuously throwing darts at your competition. Ok Stephen Harper, you don't think Stéphane Dion is an appropriate leader for the country. Tell me why you are. You sure haven't convinced me over the past couple years. Nows your chance. I'm an ordinary Canadian, ready to listen. But no, you're too busy throwing cream pies at the French kid across the aisle. Too bad.