Sunday, October 19, 2008

Obama & Gore Make Carbon Regulations/Taxes a Key Partisan Issue In Uncertain Economic Times-Shouldn't Dems Suffer Same Fate as Canada's Liberal Party?

Obama to Declare Carbon Dioxide Dangerous Pollutant

By Jim Efstathiou Jr.

Oct. 16, 2008

Barack Obama will classify carbon dioxide as a dangerous pollutant that can be regulated should he win the presidential election on Nov. 4, opening the way for new rules on greenhouse gas emissions.

The Democratic senator from Illinois will tell the Environmental Protection Agency that it may use the 1990 Clean Air Act to set emissions limits on power plants and manufacturers, his energy adviser, Jason Grumet, said in an interview. President George W. Bush declined to curb CO2 emissions under the law even after the Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the government may do so.

If elected, Obama would be the first president to group emissions blamed for global warming into a category of pollutants that includes lead and carbon monoxide. Obama's rival in the presidential race, Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, has not said how he would treat CO2 under the act.

Obama ``would initiate those rulemakings,'' Grumet said in an Oct. 6 interview in Boston. ``He's not going to insert political judgments to interrupt the recommendations of the scientific efforts.''

Placing heat-trapping pollutants in the same category as ozone may lead to caps on power-plant emissions and force utilities to use the most expensive systems to curb pollution. The move may halt construction plans on as many as half of the 130 proposed new U.S. coal plants.

The president may take action on new rules immediately upon taking office, said David Bookbinder, chief climate counsel for the Sierra Club. Environment groups including the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council will issue a regulatory agenda for the next president that calls for limits on CO2 from industry.
`Hit Ground Running'

``This is what they should do to hit the ground running,'' Bookbinder said in an Oct. 10 telephone interview.

Separately, Congress is debating legislation to create an emissions market to address global warming, a solution endorsed by both candidates and utilities such as American Electric Power Co., the biggest U.S. producer of electricity from coal. Congress failed to pass a global-warming bill in June and how long it may take lawmakers to agree on a plan isn't known.

``We need federal legislation to deal with greenhouse-gas emissions,'' said Vicki Arroyo, general counsel for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change in Arlington, Virginia. ``In the meantime, there is this vacuum. People are eager to get started on this.''

An Obama victory would help clear the deadlock in talks on an international agreement to slow global warming, Rajendra Pachauri, head of a United Nation panel of climate-change scientists, said today in Berlin. Negotiators from almost 200 countries will meet in December in Poznan, Poland, to discuss ways to limit CO2.
`Back in the Game'

``The U.S. has to move quickly domestically so we can get back in the game internationally,'' Grumet said. ``We cannot have a meaningful impact in the international discussion until we develop a meaningful domestic consensus. So he'll move quickly.''
Burning coal to generate electricity produces more than a third of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions and half the U.S. power supply, according to the Energy Department. Every hour, fossil-fuel combustion generates 3.5 million tons of emissions worldwide, helping create a warming effect that ``already threatens our climate,'' the Paris-based International Energy Agency said.
The EPA under Bush fought the notion that the Clean Air Act applies to CO2 all the way to the Supreme Court. The law has been used successfully to regulate six pollutants, including sulfur dioxide and ozone. Regulation under the act ``could result in an unprecedented expansion of EPA authority,'' EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said in July. The law ``is the wrong tool for the job.''

Proponents of regulation are hoping for better results under a new president. Obama adviser Grumet, executive director of the National Commission on Energy Policy, said if Congress hasn't acted in 18 months, about the time it would take to draft rules, the president should.
EPA Authority

``The EPA is obligated to move forward in the absence of Congressional action,'' Grumet said.
``If there's no action by Congress in those 18 months, I think any responsible president would want to have the regulatory approach.''

States where coal-fired plants may be affected include Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Texas, Montana, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia and Florida.

The alternative, a national cap-and-trade program created by Congress, offers industry more options, said Bruce Braine, a vice president at Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric. The world's largest cap-and-trade plan for greenhouse gases opened in Europe in 2005.
Under a cap-and-trade program, polluters may keep less- efficient plants running if they offset those emissions with investments in projects that lower pollution, such as wind-energy turbines or systems that destroy methane gas from landfills.

McCain `Not a Fan'
``Those options may still allow me to build new efficient power plants that might not meet a higher standard,'' Braine said in an Oct. 9 interview. ``That might be a more cost-effective way to approach it.''
McCain hasn't said how he would approach CO2 regulation under the Clean Air Act. McCain adviser and former Central Intelligence Agency director James Woolsey said Oct. 6 that new rules may conflict with Congressional efforts. Policy adviser Rebecca Jensen Tallent said in August that McCain prefers a bill debated by Congress rather than regulations ``established through one agency where one secretary is getting to make a lot of decisions.''
``He is not as big of a fan of standards-based approaches,'' Arroyo said. ``The Supreme Court thinks it's clear that there is greenhouse-gas authority under the Clean Air Act. To take that off the table probably wouldn't be very wise.''

More Efficient Technologies
How new regulations would affect the proposed U.S. coal plants depends on how they are written, said Bill Fang, climate issue director for the Edison Electric Institute, a Washington-based lobbying group for utilities. About half of the proposed plants plan to use technologies that are 20 percent more efficient than conventional coal burners.

``Several states have denied the applicability of the Clean Air Act to coal permits,'' Fang said in an Oct. 10 interview.
In June, a court in Georgia stopped construction of the 1,200- megawatt Longleaf power plant, a $2 billion project, because developer Dynegy Inc. failed to consider cleaner technology.
An appeals board within the EPA is considering a challenge from the Sierra Club to Deseret Power Electric Cooperative's air permit for its 110-megawatt Bonanza coal plant in Utah on grounds that it failed to require controls on CO2. One megawatt is enough to power about 800 typical U.S. homes.

``Industry has woken up to the fact that a new progressive administration could move quickly to make the United States a leader rather than a laggard,'' said Bruce Nilles, director of the group's national coal campaign.


Emissions Impossible: Norway Taxes Carbon, Emissions Rise
Posted by Keith Johnson
Environmental Capital - Wall Street Journal
September 30, 2008, 11:20 am
The big debate over how to tackle climate change generally boils down to what kind of pain a climate plan will do to the economy; environmental benefits are generally assumed.
But what if the economic pain doesn’t even translate into environmental gain? That’s what happened in Norway, a pioneer in putting a pricetag on carbon emissions almost twenty years ago. Net result? Carbon emissions have increased 15% since then. Leila Abboud writes today in the WSJ:

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. By making it more expensive to pollute, carbon taxes should spur companies and individuals to clean up. Norway’s sobering experience shows how difficult it is to cut emissions in the real world, where elegant theoretical solutions are complicated by economic changes, entrenched behaviors and political realities.
For economic changes, read “growth.” Norway’s growth in emissions has been a lot less than its economic growth over the same period, so the economy is clearly getting cleaner. But not enough to offset the simple math of more economic activity spewing more emissions into the atmosphere. Norway’s oil industry became one of the world’s cleanest since it started paying to pollute; but it’s grown so much in the meantime, oil and gas emissions have quadrupled, the WSJ notes.

People also learn to roll with punches. While $4 gasoline has changed some driving habits in the U.S., $10 gasoline hasn’t in Norway—car sales surged in the last decade and people still choose expensive commutes. Does that mean expectations that pricey gasoline will end America’s car addiction are overblown?

Then there’s politics. Norway isn’t alone in giving some economic sectors, like fishing, preferential treatment. China and India don’t even want to talk about emissions curbs. Germany and Poland are rapidly backpedaling on environmental commitments to save key industries at a time of economic strife. Australia has tied itself in knots trying to figure out how to clean up a coal-fired export economy without killing it.
Which brings us back to one of the bigger questions. If Norway can’t slash emissions almost two decades after slapping a hefty pricetag on carbon, what does that say about the belief that “making polluters pay” will automatically transform America’s economy?
Environmentalists for Al Gore
Progressives for Gore Blog

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

This is why I hope Al Gore does not speak at the DNC convention...
[See: Al Gore WE Campaign Advertisement "To Our Leaders: Give Us 100% Clean Electricity in 10 Years": ; See also: ABC deems Gore climate change advert too 'controversial' for TV, By Elana Schor in, Friday October 10 2008 18.29 BST at: . ("The ABC network has refused to air an advert produced by Al Gore's environmental group, ruling that its charge of US government favouritism to the oil industry is too "controversial" for television. The TV commercial, part of the WE campaign run by Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection"). See: ].
...Now onto the more important reason why...I hope he doesn't speak at the DNC convention. I understand that Mr. Gore is a loyal Democrat and I respect that even though I have personally had it with them. However, I also understand that he sees the big picture as well, which is why I love and respect him so much... That the climate crisis is not nor should it ever be debased to being a partisan political issue because that will be its death knell.
And I do believe that in order for him to maintain his credibility on this issue that he should not speak at either convention, or speak at both of them to relay the true urgency of what this world now faces in the clutches of climate change. Speaking at only one will give the impression that he sees the solutions as only being one sided after stating it should not be partisan, and that is not good for progress.
And I don't believe he believes that, because this video which is the next one put out by the WE Campaign will air during both conventions... that's right, you read it right political partisans, both conventions.
Do you see it now?
Do you not see that the glacier melt occurring three times faster than anticipated is far more important than you having something else to speculate about? Do you not see the pervasive and severe droughts covering over half the world and causing famine, diseases, and lack of water as more important than your condemnations of him for not "doing anything" to be involved in this political campaign season when this is it and it is now you who must be involved in the campaign to save the sustainability of this planet and our species?
[DEAR JAN, WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THE EVIDENCE OF THE NORTH POLE ICE CAP GROWING IN SIZE?? IS THAT MERELY PEOPLES' IMAGINATION AT WORK???? See: Michael Asher, Arctic Sees Massive Gain in Ice Coverage, Daily Tech Science Blog (Sept. 3, 2008), at: ].
Do you not see that Mr. Gore's challenge to this country to be powered by 100% renewable energy in 10 years is bigger than your petty fantasies?
Therefore, Mr. Gore, if by some chance you or someone who knows you happens to read this, here is my advice... don't speak at the DNC convention. Let this ad speak for you to tell those in the Democratic and Republican parties who still shun their moral obligation to this planet and the people that they will not be allowed to continue the status quo, nor will their candidates who are both now bowing to the whims of polls.
By not speaking at either convention you actually speak loud and clear for Mother Earth and for something far more important than the sideshow of a convention: You speak for all those who can't speak for themselves because of the lack of political will that has led us to this point.
However, if you do decide to do so, consider the use of a hologram as you did at Live Earth or a video link up perhaps. The last thing I want to read in the news again are the same whiners complaining over your carbon emissions to distract from their own culpability in this.
Oh well, looks like Mr. Gore is going to speak on the final night according to this report. Sure makes the climate crisis look like a partisan politcal issue now, but perhaps he is actually going to chide those on all sides who have been so remiss in their action. I'll wait to watch it on the Internet.
posted by Jan at

[Perhaps Messrs. Obama and Gore should pay attention to the recent election results in Canada, which resulted in the Liberal Progressive Canadian Labor Party losing approximately 20 seats in the Canadian Parliament, while the Canadian Green Party Candidate failed to secure that Party's first ever organic seat in the Canadian Parliament. As a result, the Canadian Conservative Party gained approximately 20 seats (a 'strong minority position' (but failed to achieve the threshold number of seats necessary for a majority).

Two major themes seem to have been reflected in the Canadian citizens' voting:

1) An antipathy/hostility toward 'BIG' government spending, including that on national health care, 'during a time of global economic uncertainty'; AND

2) An antipathy/hostility toward the Liberal & Green Parties' push for the 'Green Shift' - a/k/a 'carbon tax to save the world', 'during a time of global economic uncertainty'.]
Clinton praises B.C. carbon tax as great economic generator

Globe and
October 18, 2008
VANCOUVER -- Gordon Campbell, the embattled Premier of British Columbia, received some big-name support yesterday afternoon for his controversial carbon tax: Bill Clinton, former president of the United States.

Mr. Clinton called Mr. Campbell's efforts to combat climate change "the greatest economic generator you could embrace."

"I know he's taken some heat," Mr. Clinton said of Mr. Campbell's critics.
Mr. Campbell's Liberal government on July 1 brought in a carbon tax on fossil fuels, starting at a couple of pennies per litre for gasoline, and rising each year. The tax applies to individuals and businesses, big and small.

Liberals [ON BOTH SIDES OF THE U.S.-CANADIAN BORDER] don't get it: Simply Changing the Leader Can’t Fix All that Ails This Party


Edmonton Sun

Oct. 17, 2008

The polls had barely closed when the usual coterie of unnamed Liberal "strategists" began baying for Stephane Dion's blood. They were soon joined by a ragtag collection of anonymous Liberal MPs, all eager to satisfy our, that is the media's, insatiable appetite for a lynching.

Earth to Liberals: Your problems are much bigger than Dion.

For starters, politics is at its root about right and wrong. Yet here you have a party for which notions of loyalty, decency, common courtesy, seem to have no meaning at all.

It's obvious that Dion threw everything he had into the campaign. It's also obvious that he is a sincere man who genuinely loves Canada. Surely that should have earned him, oh, three days' grace before the mob dragged him out onto the lawn to be put down?

Dion failed to connect with Canadians, it's true. But in important ways this election outcome was not fundamentally about him. It was a repudiation of conventional Liberal thinking. If the party doesn't address this, its days in power are over.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper did not win 143 seats in the House of Commons, up from 127 in the last Parliament, by force of his winning personality and dazzling smile. If anything, Harper was a drag on his party in this campaign. He made serious mistakes, especially in Quebec but not only there, that crystallized negative sentiment about his personality and style. His marketing team's attempt to repackage him as a kind, blue-sweatered hockey dad was nothing short of brilliant. Harper failed to live up to his marketing.


Despite that, Conservatives made significant gains across the country. Though largely shut out of the major cities, their popular vote was strong there too -- stronger than anyone, probably themselves included, had expected. Harper looked genuinely happy Tuesday night as he delivered his victory speech. He had ample reason. Not only had he won, but he had done so convincingly, in spite of having made serious strategic blunders that prevented the Quebec breakthrough on which he'd placed all his hopes.

Here's what this means: Canada is gradually turning Conservative. Setting aside personalities and the vagaries of leadership politics, the Conservative party has found its way to a policy bedrock -- on taxes, support for the military, sovereignty in the Far North, gun control, foreign affairs, and the role of government itself -- that suits millions of Canadians.

Given a more personally moderate leader and fewer bitter partisans in cabinet, the Conservatives could win a majority next time out. If Harper becomes that more personally moderate leader, he may lead them to it himself. The tenor and content of his post-election speech suggests he intends to do precisely that.

For the Liberals, all busily scapegoating Dion and moaning about his Green Shift, this signals mortal peril.

It should not be lost on any of them that their "policy platform" in this campaign was a milquetoast rehash of the very ideas that failed to win the day for former leader Paul Martin in 2006. A big, expensive, national daycare program; billions more for a system of native reserves that isn't working and hasn't worked for years; an excessively bureaucratic, big-government slant on gun control; knee-jerk anti-Americanism; blind antipathy for any approach to medicare other than simply throwing billions more at the existing system, which is quickly outgrowing our ability to fund it.

This election was an alarm bell for the Liberal Party of Canada. Tossing out the leader is the tip of the iceberg.

Dion widely expected to announce resignation Monday News Staff

Updated Fri. Oct. 17 2008 11:05 PM ET

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion is expected to announce his resignation Monday afternoon at a press conference in Ottawa.

His office released a media alert on Friday announcing Monday's 2 p.m. press conference.

Dion has not spoken publicly since losing his bid to become prime minister in Tuesday's election.

CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reported Friday evening that Dion was leaning towards stepping down.

"I've spoken to people very close to Mr. Dion and they say they expect him to step down on Monday," Fife said. "He's a defeated general without an army and he knows he can't survive a leadership review vote."

Fife said that party elders have said that Liberal MP Ken Dryden may take over an interim leader as the Liberals prepare for a leadership convention.

Former Liberal Party president Stephen LeDrew was one of many Liberals, on and off the record, who have called for Dion to step down.

"What he should do is resign immediately," LeDrew told CTV's Mike Duffy Live Friday. "I think this man is intellectually arrogant.

"When Dion said on election night, 'I've been elected opposition minister' -- that was the goofiest statement in political history.

"Stephane Dion does not pay attention to the party or pay attention to advice."

The Toronto Star's Linda Diebel wrote a book about Dion and covered his campaign this year. She says that Dion has taken his election loss quite hard.

"He's in a lot of pain, and he's making a decision," Diebel told Mike Duffy Live Friday.

Insiders say that until election night Dion thought he had a shot at becoming prime minister, despite poor polling numbers.

"That was very much the impression I had," Diebel said regarding the issue.

Calls for action

On Thursday, Liberal spokesperson George Young said media reports that Dion would announce his resignation this week were false.

"We will properly advise the media when M. Dion is prepared to speak publicly," Young said.

Meanwhile, on Thursday night, Liberal MP Joe Volpe publicly called on Dion to "signal his intentions" about whether he will step down.

"I think the best thing that would happen for the party, and indeed for Mr. Dion, would be if he gives a signal as early as possible," Joe Volpe told CTV's Mike Duffy Live Thursday.

Volpe pointed out that the Liberals have an impending convention in May 2009 and Dion needs to let the party know if that conference is going to become a leadership convention.

When asked if Dion should quit, Volpe responded that "Dion has earned the right to stay on probably as an interim leader."

If Dion doesn't resign, he'll automatically face a vote of confidence at the convention -- which few predict he could survive.

The Liberals campaigned on an unpopular carbon tax and ended up winning only 76 seats, their poorest showing since 1984. Before the election was called, the Liberals held 95 seats in Parliament.


The Liberals start saving the pennies by dropping the Green Shift
By Steve Janke

Angry in the Great White North blog (10/16/08)

The Liberal Party is broke. The collapse in the popular vote means far less money coming in from the government. Donations, which have been an anemic source of funds for the Liberals, will like drop even lower, and much of it will be vacuumed up by the leadership candidates from the last leadership convention, still struggling to pay off their debts. That includes Stephane Dion, who will be quitting as Liberal Party leader.

With Stephane Dion gone, and money in such short supply, it is no surprise that the Liberal Party has dropped all official references to the Green Shift carbon tax. It was costing them money in licensing to Jennifer Wright of Green Shift Inc.

Stephane Dion's Green Shift, the plan to save the planet through taxes on carbon, is gone. Have you been to the website?

It redirects to the Liberal Party page. No more income calculator, no more pictures of Al Gore shaking Stephane Dion's hand. All gone. The Liberal Party didn't just scrub the Green Shift site clean of references to Stephane Dion. The Liberal Party deep-sixed the site in its entirety.

I think a huge part of this is the licensing fee the Liberals were paying to Jennifer Wright's Green Shift Inc for the use of the name. That arrangement arose out of the settlement of the lawsuit started by Wright against the Liberal Party for using the name of her company as the name of Stephane Dion's carbon tax plan.

Now that the election has been lost, these expensive mistakes can finally be rectified. The Liberal Party can't afford the Green Shift.

Funny. Wasn't that the argument Stephen Harper was using, that Canadians could not afford the Green Shift?

It is interesting, though, that the environment itself has been pushed away as an issue. The post-election message makes no mention of the environment, Green Shift or otherwise:

Now that the election is behind us, we must prepare for a new session of Parliament, where our MPs and Senators will be called on to address some serious challenges, including the global financial downturn, the weakening Canadian economy, and others.

And others? The environment has been relegated to "others"?

I wonder whether this goes farther than just an attempt to save some cash

Indeed, the scope of the Liberal Party loss, thanks to Stephane Dion, might have rendered the notion of a carbon tax radioactive for years to come, no matter what it is called.

I'll bet that when that sinks in, more than a few environmentalists will be very upset with Stephane Dion. Those environmentalists are going to be demanding a new carbon tax plan of the next Liberal Party leader, whoever he or she is. But it looks like the Liberal Party has already decided that won't be happening. Not if it costs the party money or votes.


Canadian election: Carbon tax proposals sealed Liberal defeat

The Canadian dollar barley moved on news that the Conservatives had won a strong minority in the country's snap general election.

By Fred Langan in Toronto

15 Oct 2008

The Liberals were handed a sound defeat on the issue of the environment, especially a carbon tax to fight global warming.

"I don't believe that it will completely die, but it's tough to see it being advanced by the Conservatives after they campaigned so stridently against it," said Doug Porter, an economist with BMO Capital Markets.

"I suspect that given the current financial market turmoil, the likelihood of at least a moderate North American recession, and the unpopularity of the B.C. carbon tax, that a national carbon tax will be put aside for some time.”

The election will not change the government’s commitment to keeping Canadian troops in Afghanistan. The left wing New Democrats, who have 37 seats, want to bring the troops home. On Tuesday night their leader, Jack Layton, indicated he would pressure the government to end its commitment to Afghanistan.

Conservatives feel they will be able to act as if they are majority, since none of the opposition parties will defeat the government and bring on another election.

“This is a big pickup in seats for the Conservatives even if there isn’t a majority,” said a former Conservative advisor.

The Conservatives won several ridings, as constituencies are called in Canada, in the Toronto area. That is considered a major breakthrough, allowing the Conservatives to consolidate their urban power base and shed their traditionally western and rural image.

Liberals put a positive spin on what was a disaster for its leader, a man who won the leadership in a compromise.

“We kept Mr. Harper from winning his majority. It’s a result that gives us a chance to build,” said Bob Rae, a Liberal who won his Toronto seat and lost the leadership race to Mr Dion. “He (Mr Dion) will continue to have my support.”

It is expected that there will be a challenge to Mr Dion's leadership in the coming weeks.

“It’s impossible that Dion will be leader,” said David Herle, a former Liberal organizer who said the Liberals won the lowest percentage of the popular vote in their history. “He chose the issue he wanted to run on and this is the result.”


Canada's Election Deals Defeat to Liberal Party and Carbon Tax

GRIST Environmental News & Commentary

Posted at 5:30 AM on 15 Oct 2008

Canada's national election on Tuesday strengthened the country's Conservative Party minority in Parliament and summarily killed hopes for a national carbon tax to fight global warming. The carbon tax plan, which would have levied a tax on most fossil fuels but would have been offset by income-tax reductions, was a main plank of Liberal leader Stéphane Dion's environmental platform. However, the plan proved too easy of a target for Conservatives who painted it as a costly new tax increase at a time of economic uncertainty.

Much of the Liberal defeat was also due to a divided left; the Liberals failed to unite with the New Democratic Party and the Green Party to defeat the Conservatives' majority. (Green Party Leader Elizabeth May failed to win her party's first parliamentary seat.) Tuesday's election also dealt a huge blow to the Liberals' leader, Dion. Formerly the country's environment minister, Dion made a name for himself as a champion of the Kyoto treaty, but he's widely expected to be replaced as party leader soon due to the huge election losses.


Election 2008: Two for purgatory



WELL, that was a lot of fuss for déjà vu. The Tories racked up 20 more seats last night. But at the end of the show here we are again with another minority government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

There’s no denying Mr. Harper made big gains last night, particularly in B.C. and in the eroding Liberal stronghold of Greater Toronto. There the Tories finally stormed the red citadel in the course of picking up 10 more Ontario seats.

But these strides still left Mr. Harper standing pretty much where he started, well short of the parliamentary majority required to be the transformational prime minister he would like to be.

He has himself to kick for coming up short. If he hadn’t goaded Danny Williams into war, if he hadn’t booted Bill Casey from caucus (creating a local hero who took 78 per cent of the vote in Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley last night), if he hadn’t had a tin ear on culture and crime in Quebec after all his work in wooing Quebecers, then Mr. Harper might have eeked out his majority – which is the only thing this election was ever really about.

Instead, he wins another round of purgatory. That’s the best way to describe minority government for a leader as uncompromising, ambitious and controlling as Mr. Harper.

Still, his post-election purgatory is preferable to Stephane Dion’s. Mr. Dion has to face the reality that the Tories’ 20-seat gain on less than half a per cent rise in the popular vote is due to a plunge in the Liberal vote to a mere 28 per cent. This translated into Liberals losing seats everywhere except Newfoundland (thanks to Danny Williams’ ABC campaign) and Quebec.

If Mr. Harper’s big campaign error was blowing potential gains in Quebec, Mr. Dion’s was building a campaign around the Green Shift.

Electorally, it was a shift that simply didn’t work for the Liberals. It shifted old supporters out of the party in fear that it would raise their energy costs, but did not seem to shift idealistic new ones in.

Although Mr. Dion was, as he fairly claimed, the greenest mainstream party leader on offer, green voters didn’t come to him in any numbers in the end. The shift was beyond what mainstream voters were ready to do for the environment; the green vanguard proved fickle and so the great green gamble was a fizzle.

For this and for betting so much on this huge sales job before he had sold the public on himself, Mr. Dion is going to have a hard fight holding on to the Liberal leadership, if he still wants it.

And the failure of even greens to rally around the Green Shift may ensure that it’s a very long time before another party leader goes out on a green limb again.


After victory, Canada PM keeps focus on economy

By ROB GILLIES, Associated Press Writer

Oct 15, 5:33 pm ET

OTTAWA – Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a new economic plan Wednesday, a day after his Conservative Party's re-election victory fell short of a Parliament majority amid voter disgruntlement over his slow response to the global financial meltdown.

Harper had shored up his party's standing in recent days by taking a more forceful stand on economic problems — helped by even deeper unhappiness over the opposition Liberals' push for a new tax on all fossil fuels except gasoline — and he kept to that theme after the ballot.

"The No. 1 job of the prime minister of Canada is to protect this country's economy, our earnings, our savings and our jobs, during a time of global economic uncertainty," Harper said. "The mandate we received allows us to continue moving forward."

His plan calls for reined in government spending and presenting Parliament with a budget that takes account of the credit crisis by the end of November. He said he would meet with Canada's provincial leaders as well as his counterparts in the Group of 7 major industrial nations to discuss economic needs.

In his concession speech late Tuesday, Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion offered his "full cooperation in these difficult economic times."

Harper promised to ensure that Canada's banks are not hurt by government moves in the United States and Europe to buy up stakes in their own banks to shore up balance sheets.

"We are examining what other countries are doing very closely to make sure that our banks are not put a competitive disadvantage," Harper said. "Frankly, our leading banks are now some of the largest banks in the Western world as a consequence of what's going on."

He declined to say what options he was considering but said it would not involve a lot of taxpayers money.

When Harper called early elections last month, opinion polls indicated the Conservatives had a good chance to expand to a majority in Parliament — after governing as a minority since a 2006 election victory and needing the help of the opposition to pass legislation.

But the party's support sagged, and polls said voters felt the prime minister's response to the growing worldwide crisis was tepid. He had said Canadians weren't worried about jobs or mortgages, and a few days after he called stocks cheap, Canada's main exchange had its worst week in almost 70 years.

Harper changed tack, assuring Canadians that he understand their worries while stressing the theme that Canada's economic and fiscal performance has been much better than in the U.S. and Europe. Last week, his government announced it would buy up to $21 billion in mortgages from Canada's banks in an effort to maintain the availability of credit.

In the end, the Conservatives won 143 of Parliament's 308 seats, an improvement over the 127 in the previous Parliament but short of the 155 needed to govern on its own.

Voters gave a harsher verdict on the Liberal Party, which has been the dominant party for most of Canada's history but plunged from 95 Parliament seats to 76. The separatist Bloc Quebecois won 50 seats, the New Democrats 37 and independent candidates 2.

Stephen Clarkson, a political economy professor at the University of Toronto, said Harper's slow reaction to the financial crisis hurt him some on election day. But he said the 10 percent rise on the country's main stock exchange Tuesday may have helped the prime minister.

"That must have made people feel a bit better," Clarkson said, although stocks lost a little over half the election day rise on Wednesday.

Economics wasn't the only factor in the Conservatives failure to win a majority. Clarkson said cuts in cultural funding didn't go over well in the French-speaking province of Quebec, where Harper had been counting on winning more seats for the Conservatives.

Clarkson also noted that Harper has been buoyed by the significant gain in seats held by the Conservatives even if he did fail to get the majority he coveted.

"He probably feels that he should provoke an election fairly soon and get his majority after all — particularly if the Liberals are in disarray, divided about their present leader or fighting over who should be the next leader," Clarkson said.

Dion, the leader of the left-of-center Liberals, signaled he was not ready to step down despite the party suffering one of its worst losses, telling supporters that Canadians wanted him to be the official opposition leader.

But Dion could face a rebellion from some in his own party who consider him a weak leader. His call for the fossil fuel tax was widely unpopular, and the Quebec native turned off many people in Canada's English-speaking regions with his mangled grammar and often impenetrable accent.

In calling the election just before the escalation in the financial crisis, Harper became the first major world leader to face voters amid the economic turmoil.

Harper said Wednesday that he would meet Friday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Union's administrative authority, as part of a previously scheduled Canada-EU economic summit.

The meeting was originally planned to discuss a possible free trade agreement between Canada and the EU but the credit crisis seems to have derailed those talks.

"At the summit we will also explore strengthening the economic partnership between us and the EU," Harper said.


Canadian Green leader May loses bid for seat


Oct 14, 2008 10:53pm EDT

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Green Party leader Elizabeth May, a proponent of a Canadian carbon tax, fell short on Tuesday in her bid to become the environmental party's first elected member of the nation's Parliament, according to media projections.

May lost an attempt to unseat Conservative Defense Minister Peter MacKay in Nova Scotia, an effort by the Greens that was seen as a long shot despite an agreement by the Liberals not to field a candidate in that race.

The Greens' only current member of the Canada's Parliament is Blair Wilson, elected in 2006 as a Liberal in British Columbia before becoming an independent and joining the Greens days before the election campaign began in September.

Wilson, whose switch to the Greens allowed May to participate in the national party leaders' debate, was considered unlikely to keep his seat.

May, a bubbly political and environmental activist, said she expects to remain as a party leader despite not getting a seat. "It's not perfect, but it's not unheard of," she told CTV Television.

May made only one cross-country campaign trip -- a whistle-stop tour using a regularly scheduled passenger train -- and spent nearly all her time campaigning to win the seat in her home province of Nova Scotia.

May had an unusual agreement with Liberal Party leader Stephane Dion to not field candidates against each other. Both supported the adoption of a national carbon tax.

The parties denied the deal meant they were opponents in name only, and Dion warned late in the campaign that votes for the Greens would only hurt his own uphill battle against Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has been projected by three television networks to win a stronger minority government. (Reporting by Allan Dowd, Editing by Eric Walsh)


Canadian Leader Faces Election Test: Harper Hopes Foe's Carbon Tax Flops

By Rob Gillies

Associated Press

Monday, October 13, 2008; A15

TORONTO, Oct. 12 -- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is gambling that an opposition pushing an unpopular carbon tax will steer voters to the right in Tuesday's election and bolster his hold on power.

If the polls are any indication, though, Canada's third national ballot in a little more than four years will give the country yet another minority government.

The opposition Liberals have traditionally been the party in power in Ottawa, forming the government for more than two-thirds of the past 100 years.

But voters went for Harper's Conservatives in 2006, albeit not in sufficient numbers to give the party an outright majority in the 308-seat Parliament. That forced the Conservatives to rely on the opposition to pass budgets and legislation until Harper dissolved Parliament last month.

In the election campaign, opponents have portrayed the prime minister as someone who would reshape the landscape in the manner of a U.S.-style Republican, a charge Harper rejects.

"Just because someone's a Conservative doesn't mean he's George Bush," Harper told voters in Quebec on Saturday.

The signature issue of Liberal leader Stéphane Dion is a proposal for a carbon tax on all fossil fuels except gasoline.

Conservatives say the "Green Shift" tax plan would drive up energy costs. Dion has said he would offset the higher energy prices by cutting income taxes, but he has had little success selling the plan.

Harper, meanwhile, hurt his cause by saying during a debate that Canadians were not concerned about their jobs or their mortgages.

He has since tried to undo the damage by saying he knows Canadians are concerned about the economy. On Sunday, he contrasted Canada's economic and fiscal performance to the United States'.

"Americans are running deficits. We're running surpluses. Americans are incurring debt. We're paying down debt," Harper said. "We have the lowest unemployment rate in 30 years. . . . We have a better economic situation than the United States because, for 2 1/2 years, we have made better choices."

Recent polls show Harper is rebounding. A Harris-Decima poll put voter support for Conservatives at 35 percent, the Liberals at 26 percent and the New Democrats at 18 percent. The left-of-center vote is divided among four parties, which may allow Harper to win a majority government even with less than 40 percent of the overall vote.