Missing the Mark on Clean Prosperity


Convivium, 27 September 2018

Editor-in-chief Father Raymond de Souza amicably disagrees with his friend Mark Cameron’s recent study showing the government is here to help with its carbon tax.

Last week, a study about carbon taxes by a group that promotes them, Canadians for Clean Prosperity, got a lot of attention, rather more than one would expect for such the study.

It wasn’t the claims per se that got the attention, but the one who commissioned the study, Mark Cameron, executive director of Clean Prosperity.

It was news because Cameron was the policy director in the PMO of Stephen Harper. So, the headline was “former senior Harper aide supports carbon tax.” If editors had longer memories, they could have also written “former senior aide to Stephane Dion supports carbon tax.” Yes, Cameron previously worked in the office of the father of the “tax on everything” as his latter employer would eventually call it.

How did I know that? Superior reportorial memory? Not in this case. Mark Cameron and I have been friends for more than twenty years, and are now colleagues at Cardus, where Mark serves on our board of directors. 

So, of course I paid rather more attention to this carbon tax study that I otherwise might have. 

Note that Mark Cameron, on the board of Cardus, makes a thoughtful case for a broad-based, revenue-neutral carbon tax, while earlier in the summer, Cardus hosted Jason Kenney – a friend of Cardus and a friend of Mark’s. Doug Ford put the carbon tax into its coffin this summer; Kenney will hammer it shut next summer. 

I find this divergence of views encouraging. Obviously, those who support Cardus share a broad vision, but disagreements, especially on policy instruments, are to be expected. Cardus, and similar institutions, exist to advance a particular vision but, just as important, are places where the particulars of that vision can be worked out in a spirit of freedom and civility. I haven’t surveyed the Cardus board or staff, but I would expect that on carbon taxation there would be a diversity of views.

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