The June 1st edition of the Globe and Mail included a commentary by Gordon Gibson, a former leader of the BC Liberal Party, on the way ahead for the Liberal Party of Canada. The caption for his commentary reads: “No room in the middle of the road”. Immediately above is a picture of a giant tortoise immobile on mid-road markings. The species might well be a Galapagos tortoise, which is recovering from near extinction.
Gibson describes the present circumstances of the Party in these words:
“What used to be a party – a genuine, large and cooperating organization of like-minded people – has long since been turned into an empty shell by centralizing leaders. The shell became populated largely by celebrity followers and power seekers.”
Given this sad state of affairs, what, according to Gibson, needs to be done? He recommends that the Liberals espouse unique, “third rail” policies, those policies that other parties fear to touch. He then gives examples, such as drug policy, prison policy, immigration policy, democratic reform, supporting Canadian culture, and includes what he refers to as
“. . . a leadership of ideas (not cash) in things that matter to ordinary people like health and education“
Why does he not refer to a third rail policy that for a brief time was central to Canadian political debate? Remember the progressive carbon tax, and the cap-and-trade system that in the 2008 election were part of the “Green” platform of the Liberal Party under the leadership of Stephan Dion.
The consequence of adopting such forward thinking policies: first Mr. Dion, replaced by a celebrity power seeker, and then the policies themselves, “effectively“ disappeared from the political landscape, particularly during the 2011 election. See a previous blog: The Canadian General Election, an Environmental Vacuum.
If being ”third rail” is a qualification for a policy of the rejuvenated Liberal Party of Canada, then why not adopt measures to fight climate change? The reduction of Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG) will require taxation (a progressive carbon tax), market place action (cap-and-trade?), financial support (subsidies such as the oil industry has enjoyed), replacement of fossil fuels (a renewable energy policy) and an appeal to voters to be more conscious of the need for conservation in the use of
energy (Ric Mercer’s “Take the one ton challenge”?). And whatever approaches are adopted their successful implementation will not be easy!
The only defence for Gibson’s omission of climate change measures is that in today’s political situation this third rail policy could administer a fatal shock!