"Pay for what you burn, not what you earn."
Was that so difficult? Is this Green Shift really so complicated? It's all moot now as there is not a snowball's chance in hell that Dion is going to have the opportunity to bring his environmental policy to life. We're fighting now to avoid a Harper majority - or at least I hope that is our priority, rather than worrying about the NDP's ascendance.
I disagree with environmental policy that lowers income tax and raises consumption tax. Income tax is progressive, meaning people pay a higher percentage of tax when they make more money, and consumption tax is regressive, meaning poorer people pay a higher proportion of their income in tax.
We should instead be making income tax more progressive by creating tax brackets with higher tax levels at the upper end. Currently the highest tax bracket ends at about $125,000. There should be at least one, and possibly two, marginal brackets above that.
Another part of the Green Shift that I disagree with is that it doesn't affect gasoline prices. The reasoning may have been political, and it may have been that the market is driving up gas prices enough. But it seems to me that high gas prices in Europe have fueled environmental initiatives, and low gas prices in North America have kept us in a fairyland that promotes wasteful consumption.
In my town, Kitchener-Waterloo, we continue to build far-flung subdivisions that can never sustain efficient transit. Just this week a new giant shopping mall was announced that is in walking distance of virtually noone. We are planning a ridiculously overpriced Light Rail Transit system that will be a giant white elephant, destroy Waterloo UpTown, and probably not result in one person giving up their car (as they'll still need to drive to the LRT stops).
Outside of Toronto Ontario has shabby public transit. We don't have decent intercity rail travel. We build houses that require air conditioning, despite being in a cool climate. We just aren't serious about reducing our dependence on coal generators and oil.
Another case in point - The Bay renovated their store in the Conestoga Mall, and wanted to put up wind generators. City Council at first refused and then finally agreed with a number of conditions. (They're up now and look fabulous.) But why worry about any noise or "sight pollution" in the mall? It's surrounded by a giant parking lot and wide roads. City Council should be requiring wind generators in malls, not trying to block them.
And don't get me going on the shameful waste of green rooves. For over a million dollars and a lifetime of maintenance headaches, you can get a few square meters of native grasses. They put on a green roof at Waterloo City Hall and then cut down all the trees around the building to house their new air conditioning units.
Sorry - this stuff makes me really mad, but we need to make energy more expensive or we're never going to get serious about conserving it. If we make it more expensive through taxes, we'll have revenue to help buffer the hardship caused by it. If we let the market raise prices on its own, we won't have the tax revenue to use as a buffer. What we need is higher taxes on energy. Period.