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Election 2008

Like most Canadians, I’ll be at the polls today for the 2008 Federal Election.

In the past several elections, I’ve cast my vote for the party with the best climate change plan. The consensus among economists is that any credible plan must set a price on carbon emissions. My personal preference is for a predictable and transparent price to influence consumer spending, so I favour a carbon tax over a cap-and-trade. Enlightening discussions of these issues are available at Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, Jeffrey Simpson’s column at the Globe and Mail, or his book Hot Air.

Until now this voting principle has meant a vote for the Green Party who support a tax shift from income to pollution. My expectation for this vote was not that the Green Party would gain any direct political power, rather their environmental plan would gain political profile and convince the Liberals and Conservatives to improve their plans. A carbon tax is now a central component of this year’s Liberal Platform with the Green Shift. Both the Conservative Pary and NDP support a limited cap-and-trade system on portions of the economy, with the Conservatives supporting dubious “intensity-based” targets.

Although I quite like the central components of the Green Shift, I’m not too keen on the distracting social engineering aspects of the plan. Furthermore, the Liberals have certainly failed to implement any of their previous climate change plans while in power. Nonetheless, I do think (hope?) they will follow through this time and I prefer supporting a well-conceived plan that may not be implemented than a poor plan. Despite my support for this plan, I think the Liberals have done a rather poor job of explaining the Green Shift and have conducted a disappointing campaign.

In the end, my principle will hold. I’m voting for the Green Shift and, reluctantly, the Liberal Party of Canada.