Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Report on Business

Economy Lab

Delving into the forces that shape our living standards
Best Business Blog, EPPY awards, 2011 and 2012

Entry archive:

Economy Lab has moved

Only Globe Unlimited members will now have access to a wide range of insightful commentary
and analysis on the economy and markets previously offered on this page.


Globe Unlimited subscribers will be able to read these columns,
written by some of Canada’s most deeply respected economists,
such as Christopher Ragan, Sheryl King, Andrew Jackson, and Clement Gignac,
as part of our ROB INSIGHT section.


All of our readers will still be able to browse the Economy Lab archives and read our
broader coverage of economic data and news by accessing their 10 free articles a month.


Learn more about Globe Unlimited and how to subscribe.

Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau greets an audience in Hamilton on Oct. 10, 2012. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau greets an audience in Hamilton on Oct. 10, 2012. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

Why Justin Trudeau runs the risk of policy by association Add to ...

It’s been two weeks since Justin Trudeau announced his intention to contend for the leadership of the federal Liberal party. To date, his campaign has been light on policy. If his appearance Monday in Nova Scotia offers any guidance, I’m worried.

At a fund raiser where Mr. Trudeau and Romeo Dallaire were special guests, Nova Scotia Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil vowed to remove an “efficiency tax” from the bills of Nova Scotia Power consumers. Cost of living issues are a theme for the Liberal leader, who has also been critical of the “skyrocketing” price of gasoline under Darrell Dexter’s NDP government.

More Related to this Story

The “efficiency tax” Mr. McNeil describes is a program where a small unit surcharge is placed on electricity users. This revenue is then given to the Efficiency Nova Scotia Corporation (ENSC), which uses the money to fund a variety of energy conservation initiatives. Mr. McNeil’s criticism of the program is not without merit. The system suffers from a variety of issues; power bills for consumers are unnecessarily complicated and the ENSC is an unnecessary add-on. This imperfect system ultimately does work, however, because it creates a higher price for energy. Electricity is the same as any other good: All else being equal, when prices rise people consume less of it. Despite his criticisms, Mr. McNeil has no credible alternative policy to curb electricity consumption and instead has decided to put the consumer ahead of the environment.

Mr. Trudeau said he was not there for his own campaign, but “to support Stephen McNeil and the Nova Scotia Liberals.”

This raises a number of questions. Does Mr. Trudeau support McNeil’s reduction of electricity bills? Does he further support McNeil’s proposed reduction of the province’s gasoline tax? The four cent reduction in the price of gasoline, as proposed by Mr. McNeil, is the equivalent of reducing carbon taxes by roughly $15/tonne. Does Mr. Trudeau believe that carbon taxes in this country are already too high?

Mr. Trudeau is a blank slate when it comes to environmental policy. He has indicated protection of the environment is a priority, yet he is allying with a politician that has consistently promoted pocketbook issues over environmental protection. If he wants to be taken a serious politician with serious ideas on the environment he has gotten off to a poor start.

 

Mike Moffatt is an Assistant Professor in the Business, Economics and Public Policy (BEPP) group at the Richard Ivey School of Business – Western University

Follow Economy Lab on Twitter

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories