Friday, 22 July 2011

What do Tony Abbott and Carole James have in common?


Residents of my home province of British Columbia remember Carole James as the former leader of the British Columbia New Democratic Party, the opposition party now for over a decade. Her scowling, smug demeanor is believed widely enough to be a reason for the BCNDP's failure to return to power that she was ousted recently on favor of Adrian Dix. Of course, it could also just be the refusal of the feel-too-much-think-too-little BCNDP to grow up that has kept it from governing. It was Carole James at the helm of the BCNDP during which then-Premier (that's Canadian for "Governor") Gordon Campbell instituted the controversial BC carbon tax. Back to that in a moment.

Tony Abbott is the leader of Australia's opposition, the main threat to the government currently headed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The fact that his firebrand, feel-too-much-think-too-little conservatism makes him an implausible leader for Australia has given Gillard the political room to institute a carbon tax. It is true that Gillard needed to do something anyway because her Labour Party governs only with the cooperation of Australia's Green Party, and they have demanded that Gillard do something about climate change.

So the two major non-European carbon tax proposals of the last several years have been instituted when the opposition is weak. Notice also that in one case the opposition has been too far left -- the BCNDP -- and in the other case the opposition has been too far right -- Tony Abbott and his knaves.

Perhaps there is a correlation between extremism and opposition to carbon taxes. After all, conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canadian NDP leader Jack Layton have ganged up on Liberal party leaders that have proposed a federal carbon tax. Looks like centrism and pragmatism are so last decade in Canada.

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