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and in this corner, THOMAS MULCAIR


...and in this corner, THOMAS MULCAIR! (and his cap-and-trade system)  

Tom Markowitz - Saturday, March 31, 2012

Welcome to Enerhope

and in this corner……THOMAS MULCAIR!

(and his cap-and-trade system)

©Enerhope.com 2012
April 1, 2012

“…and in this corner, on my leffffftttttt….wearing orange trunks, at a hunnert an’ eighty pounds,…the pride of Kweebeck!... the Outremont Olympian, the Beaconsfield Brawler, the new Leader of the New Democratic Party. He will CAP YOUR EMISSIONS!….THOMAS....MULCAIR !!!!”

Canada now has a new Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, ready to do battle with the governing Conservative Party.

Political Situation
On March 24th, Thomas Mulcair became the Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP) and the official Leader of the Opposition.
Canada is governed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party, the winner of the May, 2011 General Election, capturing 166 of the total 308 seats in the House of Commons. The New Democratic Party (NDP), led by the revered Jack Layton, rose from third party status to become the Official Opposition, with 103 seats. Unfortunately, Layton died of cancer in August. After a long, noisy leadership campaign, the NDP chose Thomas Mulcair on March 24th as the new party leader.

The Canadian people have taken to Thomas Mulcair. In a March 26-27 poll, reported in the Toronto Star, the New Democrats are riding strong public support, helped by their performance in the Commons and the addition of their new leader. A survey done this week had the NDP tied with the Conservatives in public support at 35 per cent each.


Mulcair’s Plan
The NDP is a socialist-labour party, best-known as the party which implemented the first universal medical care system in Canada. In the House of Commons, the NDP offers significant opposition to the policies and programs of the ruling Conservative Party.  However, even with the support of other opposition parties in the House, the NDP does not have enough seats to steer Canadian legislation away from Conservative doctrines.

Nevertheless, the NDP does have the power to harass and embarrass the Government before the television cameras, in parliamentary debates, and in Question Period.

According to an official NDP Press Release, “Mulcair said that he is ready to get right down to work, starting now. “There is no time to lose. With the reckless Conservatives budget cuts we know are coming next week, Canadian families expect the Official Opposition to stand up to Stephen Harper and hold him to account. And this is exactly what the NDP will continue to do, every single day. We won't rest until we defeat the Harper Conservatives in 2015 and form the first New Democrat government.”


Mulcair’s cap-and-trade plan follows the NDP announcement during the 2011 election campaign, reported in Enerhope’s April 26th, 2011 article, Canada’s Election and Cap-and-Trade, http://enerhope.advancedwebsites.ca/_blog/Canada%27s_Election_and_Cap-and-Trade

On December 8th, during early stages of the NDP leadership campaign, Mulcair proposed a “comprehensive cap and trade plan” to reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions:


Mulcair further elaborated on his cap-and-trade plan in the journal Policy Options, in March:  http://www.irpp.org/po/archive/mar12/mulcair.pdf

“This is why I have proposed a “comprehensive cap and trade plan” that would be based on the principle that “polluters pay.” My plan would cap climate change pollution at the source, thus avoiding complicated monitoring systems that are prone to loopholes. It would also include all the major sources of climate change pollution in Canada.”

Good Idea? Bad Idea?
We can assume that the Mulcair cap-and-trade plan would require large, direct emitters of greenhouse gases to monitor and report their annual greenhouse gas emissions, and, at the end of each year, to retire to the government one allowance for each emitted tonne of greenhouse gas equivalent. How would a Mulcair NDP government create and allocate these allowances? We do not know.

The Mulcair plan also includes ALL major sources of greenhouse gases in Canada --- transportation, small businesses, agriculture, commercial and institutional buildings, etc. How would the cap-and-trade system include these millions of small sources?

The Mulcair cap-and-trade plan may propose placing distributors of gasoline, diesel fuel, and boiler fuel under the cap for their customers’ emissions, e.g. a distributor of gasoline would be required to retire 2.36 allowances for each 1,000 litres of gasoline that it sold.

Cap-and-trade succeeds in regulating direct emissions by large, direct emitters.

Cap-and-trade does not succeed in reducing indirect emissions.

Capping fuel distributors for their indirect emissions, i.e. for emissions by their customers, would be a serious mistake. Canadian motorists who bought and consumed gasoline from service stations would not be under any regulatory obligation to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, the motorists would see a price increase of 2% to 4% in the price of gasoline, varying with the week-by-week price of allowances. The motorists would resent this price increase but would not reduce their emissions.

A Nation United behind its Ideals?
A fundamental criterion for the establishment of a national cap-and-trade system is national unity behind environmental ideals. The mechanics of monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions require honesty, cooperation and mutual trust among governments and large industries.

Does Canada have this national unity?

The populated area of Canada is a long, thin strip of land, over 5,000 kilometers long, including various regions, with various industries, two official languages, and various attitudes toward environmental issues. Inevitably, Canadian federal politics are dominated by regional differences. The prairie provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, with their coal-fired electricity generation, and their highly-successful oil and gas industries, do not share the same enthusiasm for greenhouse gas emission reductions which is prevalent in other parts of Canada.

At the same time, Canada lacks a constitutional document which clearly specifies the jurisdiction of the federal government and the provincial governments.

In the National Post ,on April 25th, 2011, Vancouver emissions trading consultant Aldyen Donnelly warned that a national cap-and-trade system would be an unconstitutional threat to the country

More recently, John Ivison of the National Post predicted on March 25th, “When Thomas Mulcair runs into Western public opinion there will be blood.” http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/03/25/john-ivison-when-thomas-mulcair-runs-into-western-public-opinion-there-will-be-blood/

Previous federal governments, including the current Conservative Government, attempted without success to establish a national cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases.
See Enerhope’s April 26th, 2011 article, Canada’s Election and Cap-and-Trade: http://enerhope.advancedwebsites.ca/_blog/Canada%27s_Election_and_Cap-and-Trade
Some Canadian provinces have gone ahead of the federal government, building their own emissions trading systems, and joining regional emissions trading alliances.

These provincial efforts are described in the following Enerhope articles:

janvier 2012 - Le Québec démarre son système de plafonnement et d’échange de droits d’émission

January 1st 2012 - Québec Marches Into Emissions Trading

Alberta's Baseline and Credit Emissions Trading System - September, 2011

Ontario Drifts Toward Cap and Trade (October 2nd, 2011)

Any Possibility of Success?
Outweighed by a Conservative majority, the NDP does not have the political punch to score a knockout in the House of Commons, at least until the next general election, which may not occur until 2015. However, as a statement of the official policy of the official opposition, the NDP’s cap-and-trade model can serve to pressure the current Conservative government to act more positively to reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.


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