Thursday, April 21, 2011

Politics of a Failing Economy - and the Environment

Governments often claim that taking action against climate change would destroy the economy. This is because a carbon tax effectively raises the price of oil and gasoline and higher energy prices flow through the economy. In turn, this causes higher prices for everything else, which reduces demand and slows down the entire economy.

Interestingly, this is only half-true. In countries which have implemented carbon-reduction programs, like Denmark and Germany, their governments have implemented carbon taxes and then used the money from taxes to create jobs in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors. They stimulate the economy and also protect their economies from inevitable raises in oil prices (oil is after-all a non-renewable and depleting resource).

Canada has not done anything like this - instead the government has invested millions of tax-payer dollars to promote the oil and gas industry and create suspicion about climate change science.

This article gives some insight into how they have done this and the type of people who have been involved.

From the April 21, 2011 CBC article PMO warned ethics watchdog on Carson (which is linked below)

"Giorno's letter outlined to Dawson [Canada's ethics commissioner) the steps the PMO had taken to address the potential conflict of interest with Carson and the grant request from the newly-created think tank, the Canada School of Energy and Environment.

Carson, who continued to work for Harper for a month after the email before returning to the institute, said the email was sent in error by his office there.

The Harper government subsequently approved a $25-million grant for Carbon Management Canada, another research institute chaired by Carson."

"Last month, the Prime Minister's Office called in the Mounties to investigate allegations Carson may have illegally lobbied the government in 2010 on behalf of a water-filter company employing his girlfriend, a 22-year-old former prostitute.

When that story broke, Harper and his senior staff all said they had no prior inkling there was anything amiss about Carson.

The relative hail of mail to the ethics commissioner about Carson adds another bizarre twist to the unfolding saga of the convicted fraudster who became one of Harper's most trusted advisers."

"Carson promptly left to become head of the Canada School of Energy and Environment, but had barely unpacked his bags in Calgary when Harper called the 2008 election and insisted his trusted adviser return to travel on the campaign plane. As soon as the campaign was over, Carson returned to Calgary to resume his position at the institute.

But six weeks later, he was back in the PMO to advise Harper during the coalition crisis that threatened to topple the newly elected Conservative government."

"Carson returned to the Calgary institute, which was supposed to be a co-ordinating agency for clean energy research.

The agency was set up as a private corporation and funded entirely with a $15 million grant from the federal government.

Almost immediately, Carson rewrote the mandate of the agency from that of a research institute to a centre devoted to promoting the Alberta oilsands and helping the Harper government navigate the politically treacherous climate change issue.

Sources say Carson was also officially retained as an unpaid adviser to the federal Environment Ministry.

That's when the third letter about Carson landed on the desk of the federal ethics and conflict-of-interest commissioner."

So - next time you find yourself at the gas pump paying over $1.00/litre for gasoline - you have Stephen Harper and Carson to thank. Their far-sighted and publicly funded work has insured that you will pay nothing but higher prices for gasoline for the forseeable future - because they have done a tremendous job in stifling any efforts to move from an oil based economy .

And when the next economic collapse comes about - after oil prices have reached $150/barrell or so - you can thank them all over again.

PMO warned ethics watchdog on Carson - Canada Votes 2011 - CBC News

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