In the last Canadian federal election in 2008, Liberal leader Stephane Dion put forward a comprehensive plan called Green Shift. Dion’s emphasis on things like carbon taxes and carbon trading were part of the most progressive pro-environment platform in Canadian history.
Prior to the 2008 election, Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion said “The time has come to do what is right – not what is easy – for our environment and for our future.” Dion called his environmental platform, the Green Shift, a bold plan that put a price on pollution and positioned Canada to be a leader in the 21st century green economy.
Dion’s plan was to cut taxes on things like income, investment and innovation, while shifting the tax burden to those that generate pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and waste. Dion’s plan would have encouraged energy efficiency and discouraged pollution.
At the time of the 2008 Canadian federal elections, an Angus Reid poll indicated that Canadians considered the the environment to be one of their top three priorities (after health care and the economy). The vast majority of Canadians (88%) said the environment is very important or moderately important.
Despite Canadians support for the environment, in the 2008 federal election, Conservatives were elected on a platform that forcefully rejected major green initiatives. On October 14, 2008, Canadian voters re-elected Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. This election granted the Conservatives 19 more seats than they had after the last election in 2006.
The Conservative government made its attack against the Green Shift platform, a central part of its strategy. The Conservatives showed strong support for the fossil fuel industry and promoted things like the development of northern pipelines to bring fossil fuels to markets around the world. Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper quietly continued his tacit support for the environmentally destructive tar sands while calling the Green Shift “crazy” and “insane.”
Although some saw the Conservative win as a repudiation of the Liberal’s green platform, others attributed the victory to a successfully executed Conservative misinformation campaign.
© 2011, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
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