The prospect of an NDP/Liberal coalition is certainly an intriguing one. For one thing, there is a lot of history to be made in parliamentary procedure. What can the Conservative government do to resist falling? How should, must, and will the Governor General act in different scenarios? If a coalition did come into being, how would it govern and how long-lasting could it be?
Given the NDP’s opposition to Stephane Dion’s ‘Green Shift’ carbon tax, it is especially unclear what sort of climate policies would emerge from a coalition government. They would be in a doubly weak position to create rules that would govern industry for years. Firstly, well-founded questions about the longevity of the coalition would make regulated industries wonder whether spending to meet new requirements makes commercial sense. In the absence of certainty about long-term climate policies, intelligent investments cannot be made. Secondly, there is uncertainty about what will happen to climate policy in the United States. How much of a priority will it be for the new Obama administration? Will Congress press forward or hold back on the issue? Will the US seek a national system, or will they try to come up with an integrated North American system as proposed by the Harper government? What will happen to the regional climate change organizations, such as the Western Climate Initiative?
These are certainly interesting times. Hopefully, the uncertainty will not serve to perpetuate inaction.
[Update: 28 January 2009] As of today’s Liberal response to yesterday’s Conservative budget, it seems the possibility of a coalition is dead, at least for now.