Sunday, May 19, 2013

Non-Issues in the British Columbia Election (and why you might actually be interested)

Unless you’re a political junkie (or a Canadian) you probably didn’t notice that the province of British Columbia just had a general election.  The incumbent Liberal government won a majority, to the surprise of everyone, as the opposition New Democrats had maintained a significant lead in the polling for many months.
The biggest issue in the campaign was apparently future pipeline projects (always a good source of controversy!).
What I find of interest are two non-issues in the campaign: the carbon tax and the motor fuels tax.
BC is the North American leader in applying a carbon tax (see my thoughts on the subject here) and also has (certainly by U. S. standards) a very large motor fuels tax.  In the Vancouver area, the motor fuels tax amounts to an equivalent of 98 U. S. cents per gallon (my calculation) while the carbon tax adds another 27 cents per gallon, for a total provincial tax of $1.25 (U. S.) per gallon.  Can you imagine what you could do with that much revenue?
Actually, there was a tiny issue regarding the carbon tax.  The New Democrats said that might consider using some revenue from the carbon tax for transit and other climate friendly purposes (the tax is now intended to be revenue neutral and is rebated through other tax mechanism).  What a luxury to have a policy debate like that!
The point here is that while here in the States we tend to view policy futures as bleak and limited, not so far away the debates are at a far higher level.  

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