Imagine an election campaign in which one of the two top contenders thinks that the environment is the biggest issue facing the country. You’re figuring that he must be running in India, right? Or maybe China — a land of environmental refugees. But nope — in this case, he’s running for the job of Canadian Prime Minister. And he has an actual photograph of a lonely polar bear perched atop a tiny patch of drift ice posted on his party’s website.
What does this guy — Liberal leader Stephane Dion — want Canadians to do about the hapless drifting polar bear? Why, he would like to jimmy open their wallets so a Liberal government can shake them down for “carbon credits” every time they buy gas, crank up the air conditioning, burn oil or gas to heat their home, take a plane ride, or purchase any items that may have had to travel by the power of fuel to get to their destination on store shelves.
But the Liberals tell Canadians they ought not to worry, and assure them the tax is “revenue neutral” – an oxymoron that’s sort of like “friendly fire” for your bank account, except with Libs at the trigger.
Dion explains on the party’s website that, “Every penny collected through the price on carbon will be given back to Canadians through personal income and business tax cuts, as well as tax credits.”
See, it’s really not a big deal — Canadians can just sit back and relax while the Liberals take their money out to the prom and promise to have it back to by midnight. It will be treated with respect this time — despite the Liberals’ reputation for constantly taking off and eloping with it.
Stephane Dion and Canada’s Liberal Party apparently think they’re running in Australia’s last federal election. The environment topped that country’s list of issues — with the winning party having made it a primary focus — but only because things are going so well down there that they don’t have much else to worry about right now. You know your country is in good shape when you can concern yourself with fairy tales like anthropogenic global warming — and maybe even convince your countrymen that it’s worth dialing back and living in a hut while some guy in India smokes out an entire village with his homemade car.
Oh, but Stephane Dion isn’t just running for Prime Minister of Canada. He gives the impression he’s campaigning to be King of the World, complete with campaign ads featuring him speaking in front of the United Nations symbol, he’s adamant that the global temperature not increase by more than 2 degrees.
In a letter to Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper late last year, Dion pleaded: “At this crucial moment, Canada…must help the world community come to agreement that we will not allow global climate to change more than two degrees Celsius.”
I’m sure the Chinese will get right on that after they finish choking a rare species of tiger with another 100 tons of pollution and using their single carbon credit as a napkin after ingesting another creature from the endangered species list. The world wheezed a collective sigh of relief at the Beijing Olympics when no marathoners dropped dead from inhaling smog soup during their race. That’s where their bar lies. Maybe Dion could get to work building a bubble around those of us who reside in countries that fund the others’ pollution? It would do about as much good.
Meanwhile, it’s a lonely place at the big kids’ table for economist turned Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. Currently clobbering the Liberals in the polls by up to 15% depending on the day and pollster, the man who some Canadians feared would send the country back to the stone age with his scary conservative values can point to a record of obvious tax cuts and credits for every Canadian, deficit reduction, banning of political donations by unions and businesses, and rebirth of military and national pride, all while being largely unable to implement any sort of real conservative reform as a result of being hamstrung by a minority government.
Arguably the most useful bill passed by the Conservative-led parliament was one permitting the country to better select immigrants based on skill, set quotas based on immigrants’ country of origin (that is, other than Western countries which have already long been subjected to such quotas), and reject applicants without having to give a reason — all thereby ensuring greater economic efficiency and cultural unity. The Liberals now promise to reverse the changes — which they couldn’t bring themselves to vote against when they had the chance earlier this year – and stick taxpayers with an $800 million bill for immigrant integration.
In the same speech before a largely Asian immigrant audience near Vancouver, Dion promised $200 million for English language training. But doing so, he Freddy Krueger-ed the Queen’s English so badly that only a few participles and perhaps a lone verb were left critically wounded and begging for their lives (en Français, if they know what’s good for them).
So if you grow tired of all the US election drama, you can always turn your attention to the dark comedy playing out on the Canadian political stage. Limited engagement, only until October 14th – but well worth the price of admission (still free, even with the exchange rate).