On the issue itself, I kind of like the idea of a carbon tax. Most of the Scandinavian countries have them and pollution taxes are one of the best deterrents to cut back on pollution. That said, I tend to think a tax like this would be extremely unpopular, especially in Alberta. Just a hunch. On the same vein, I wouldn't mind seeing an 18 cent tax of gasoline but, as John Crosbie has shown us, that might not make for a very popular policy.
It will be very interesting to see how this story develops over the next few days, now that the Tories have latched onto it as an issue...
UPDATE: The Herald dives into the issue this morning, with quotes from three of the leadership contenders.
A carbon tax would disproportionately hurt the Alberta and Saskatchewan economies, Brison said. But a more broadly based tax, perhaps applied to hydro and other forms of energy as well, wouldn't increase the overall tax burden on Canadians, he said.
Brison said investment tax credits could foster research into clean energy and its development and commercialization. Tax breaks could also be given for environmentally friendly purchases, such as hybrid vehicles.
Ignatieff told the Herald he'd never propose levies that increase the overall tax burden on any industry or pit one region of Canada against another. Rather, the system might be shifted toward "taxing polluting behaviour and rewarding environmental behaviour," he said.
"Energy policy and environment policy are national unity issues," said the Toronto MP and former Harvard University professor. "You can't be discriminatory against a province. You can't be discriminatory against an industry."
In Ottawa, Prime Minister Stephen Harper seized on Ignatieff's weekend comments, suggesting during question period the leadership hopeful was referring to some form of "new National Energy Program."
Kennedy told the Herald editorial board he wants to see a blended environmental and energy policy, but warned it could cause "some pain" for individual consumers.
The government should reaffirm its targets under Kyoto or any future climate change treaties, said the former Ontario cabinet minister.
"The government's role is to put its foot down," Kennedy said. "The government's role is not to roll over and create confusion the way the Harper government has."
However, Kennedy said he'd rather promote new environmental strategies and technologies than impose a "crude" carbon tax.
"I would worry that anyone would see a carbon tax as just another National Energy (Program)
kind of approach."