The federal Conservatives finally unveiled their climate plan that will satisfy everyone because it stops global warming without a carbon tax. Except it satisfies nobody because it’s so obviously a PR document not a policy document. Andrew Scheer might reasonably have expected to get razzed from the left no matter what he said. But the National Post’s John Ivison accused him of constructing “a Potemkin village” while his colleague Andrew Coyne sneered that it was “an intentionally pointless piece of misdirection”.
Now it might be argued that neither Ivison nor Coyne are really “right-wing” especially as both keep imagining a new improved conservatism hard to distinguish from liberalism. Ivison in this very piece called the plan “a missed opportunity” because “Scheer could have offered a bold vision of a new conservatism, rooted in the desire to preserve and protect the environment.” And Coyne is a true believer on man-made climate change who rather famously urged Scheer to grovel instead of defending free speech after he groveled instead of defending free speech as if making enemies of your friends would make friends of your enemies (or be honourable or prudent even if it did). But both are hard-headed about economics and policy and both find the Conservative document a laughable fake because it is one.
For starters, it wants to take credit for reductions abroad due to Canadian technology. But as Ivison and Coyne both indignantly observe, international climate treaties are quite clear that you can’t do so without the permission of the country where they happen. And with virtually everyone stumbling their way to missing their Paris targets badly, you’re not going to get free emissions from anybody. For another, as Coyne rightly notes, the plan promises to meet our own Paris targets but “contains no estimates of how much its measures would, in fact, reduce our emissions” or how it would make heavy industry invest in green tech or meet nebulous emission standards. And it’s very heavy on the sort of micromanagement by government that conservatives hate until they start designing policy.
In short, the plan is cynical and its tone not a little childish. Especially when we learn less than a week later that the plan would actually put a price on carbon that the Tories are feebly insisting is not a “tax” or even a “price” because they’re not calling it one. This rubbish from the party that is meant to believe reality is not optional and words cannot take the place of deeds.
If the Tories were grown-ups they would either say man-made climate change is real and produce a serious plan to reduce Canada’s emissions, or stand up to the mob on the supposedly settled science. Instead they faked their homework. And got caught.