Ignatieff and climate change

2009-05-12

in Canada, Politics, The environment

Bridge over the Ottawa River

In sharp contrast to Stephane Dion, who put environmental issues front and centre, the new federal Liberal leader is much more restrained when describing his position on climate change policy. In addition, Michael Ignatieff seems to be going out of his way to show support for ‘the west’ and, by extension, the Athabasca oil sands.

It is possible that this is an electoral ploy, designed to isolate him from the perceived failure of Dion. It is also possible that Ignatieff has the intention of taking significant action on climate change, but has deemed it tactically appropriate to keep it quiet. Finally, it is possible that he thinks such action is either not necessary or not worth the political price he thinks it would involve. For those concerned about climate change, the last is a troubling possibility. If Canada is going to hit the targets established by the current government – much less, stronger targets as advocated by many scientists and NGOs – much bolder governmental action will be necessary, and higher costs will necessarily fall upon carbon-intensive industries.

With the eternal bubble of speculation about elections that accompanies a minority government, what do people think the real Ignatieff agenda on climate change would be, if he is able to bring the Liberals back into government? Would it likely be more or less aggressive if they did so with a majority, as opposed to simply replacing the Conservatives in the perilous minority spot?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Edward May 12, 2009 at 7:49 am

To be fair, Stephane Dion focused on environmental issues at a time when the world’s economies weren’t being driven into the ground. If Ignatieff wants to be elected, he has to keep focusing on how to keep Canadians employed as his first priority.

Even Obama hasn’t spoken as much on the progressive politics that are clearly dear to him. He has rightly focused on sorting out the economic mess. It doesn’t mean that Obama doesn’t care about things like inner city schools or poverty, just that things like keeping world markets afloat trump other issues of importance at this point in time.

Dion spoke a lot about the environment, but not being in a position of power as L of O, he wasn’t able to do very much. Perhaps if Ignatieff gets elected, he might not do all that Dion might’ve done but it’ll be more than the current government is doing. Let the perfect not be the enemy of the good.

gromore May 12, 2009 at 8:27 am

Ignatieff has said that his platform will contain a cap and trade with hard caps, and not a carbon tax, because Canadians spoke on that. I think the attack lines are just too simple and they work even if they are misleading — a carbon tax does nothing and costs people money. Since both the Conservatives and NDP were able to use this line effectively, it appears to speak to a wide cross-section of people, irrespective of political leanings.

Tristan May 12, 2009 at 10:00 am

I realize and agree that climate change is the central issue of our times. However, we still need politics – and the main issue here is not only for me “what is Ignatieff’s position on climate change”, but also, “what is Ignatieff’s position on taking positions”.

Today’s politics is characterized by empty talk, by not engaging the issues in good faith. The fact that one might sensibly believe (and I do think one can sensibly believe this) that Ignatieff’s position on climate change is “better” than the one he’s been demonstrating, means precisely that Ignatieff is only a normal politician.

There is a lot of talk about the “Obama effect”, he was after all awarded the best advertising campaign of the year award. But we are seeing the real effect here in Canada – leaders who gain popularity by creating in subjects the idea that they secretly agree with them even when they say nothing, or even say the opposite.

. May 13, 2009 at 11:14 pm

Michael Ignatieff: Arrogant Bastard
Andrew Steele, today at 5:26 PM EDT

The Conservatives were presented with a complex and challenging opponent in Michael Ignatieff.

He’s clearly more articulate and polished than his predecessor, so attempts to attack his ability would prove problematic.

His past positions were closer to the government’s own core than the Liberal core on issues like Afghanistan, torture, Quebec and U.S. relations. While that gives opportunities for wedges, the new Liberal focus on unity and professionalism makes that less certain of success that a few months ago.

Having witnesses the collapse of his predecessor’s policy initiative, Ignatieff is keeping his platform powder dry.

. October 13, 2009 at 5:05 pm

Ignatieff touts clean-energy platform

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff inspects a solar panel with George Rubin, president of Day 4 Energy, at a plant tour in Burnaby, B.C., on October 13, 2009. REUTERS

A year after carbon tax led to predecessor’s political demise, Liberal Leader vows to focus environmental policy on green spending

Campbell Clark

The Globe and mail Published on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009 3:46PM EDT Last updated on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009 5:01PM EDT

Michael Ignatieff says he will campaign in the next election on a major investment in clean energy.

One year minus a day after Stéphane Dion’s “green shift” carbon tax laid the Liberals low in a heavy election defeat, his successor, Mr. Ignatieff, insisted the environment will be at the core of the party’s platform again.

This time, however, the Liberal climate-change policy will come in the form of spending, rather than a tax.

In a speech to the Vancouver Board of Trade on Tuesday, Mr. Ignatieff excoriated Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government for unveiling three plans on climate change since 2006, but failing to put any of them into action.

. January 16, 2010 at 12:47 am

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