Betting on Michael Chong

4RG has written comments generally critical of the fossil fuel policies of the Federal Conservative Party. Lately we noted there are members of that party who recognize the need for action.

In our March 2016 blog we gave credit to Michael Chong, Federal MP for the Ontario riding of Wellington- Halton Hills, for advocating the Federal Conservative Party rethink its policies on climate change. Now Chong, a candidate for Party leadership, says that Canada needs to reach its target for reduced GHG emissions by instituting a tax targeted on the consumption of fossil fuels.  He proposes that revenue collected from the tax be rebated to taxpayers, similar to the tax regime currently in force in BC. His proposal is also consistent with the tax policies adopted by Patrick Brown, the leader of the Conservative Party in Ontario.

Other elements in Chong’s platform involve tax measures; simplification of tax brackets, elimination of some of the many tax breaks, increase of tax benefits to working families etc. Other leadership candidates have not put such emphasis upon tax provisions: clearly Chong’s proposals single him out.

We have our doubts – not about the policy itself – but about Chong’s chances if elected as party leader to persuade party rank-and-file to accept a carbon tax. Chong has the backing of Peter Kent, at one time the Federal Minister of the Environment.  But Patrick Brown has not  endorsed his candidacy to date.

Most of the other candidates are non-committal on the topic of climate change. The audience at the leadership debates has been unsympathetic to climate change policy. Brad Wall of Saskatchewan – where the Federal Conservatives have significant support – is vehemently opposed to a Federal carbon tax.

The good news:  perhaps Chong’s direct approach will lead Canadian voters to view putting a price on carbon more sympathetically.

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