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Politics Ten years after the last carbon-tax election, Stéphane Dion says it would be a ‘mistake’ to turn back now

Stéphane Dion meets with the Globe and Mail editorial board in 2016,

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

More than 10 years later, Canadians are facing the prospect of another federal election campaign focused on the merits of a carbon tax.

Stéphane Dion, the man who led the Liberal Party to defeat in 2008 with a campaign built around a carbon tax, said it would be a “mistake” to turn back now that carbon pricing is taking hold.

Mr. Dion is now Canada’s ambassador to Germany and special envoy to the European Union.

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He was back in front of reporters Wednesday night in Sherbrooke after he and five other ambassadors briefed the federal cabinet on international issues at a three day retreat.

Mr. Dion was asked for his thoughts on the prospect of another federal election campaign about carbon taxes, more than a decade after he pushed the idea in a national election campaign.

“My only advice – it is not only for Canadians or for Europeans, it is for the world: Encouraging the people who want to do less, it would be a mistake. Encourage the people who want to do more, because we need to do more,” he said. “You have to put a price on pollution.”

Called the “Green Shift,” Mr. Dion’s 2008 platform was built on an offsetting mix of carbon taxes and tax cuts.

“The Liberal Green Shift plan is as powerful as it is simple: We will cut taxes on those things we all want more of, such as income, investment and innovation. And we will shift those taxes to what we all want less of: pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and waste,” he said in his 2008 platform.

Now, Mr. Trudeau’s Liberal Party is attempting to win over voters with a similar message.

Federal carbon taxes took effect Jan. 1 in four provinces that did not already have a carbon pricing plan that met federal standards: Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick.

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Taxpayers in those provinces will receive a “Climate Action Incentive,” after filing their tax return.

The federal government has said all money raised by the carbon tax will be returned to the province in which the revenue was collected. The size of the rebate varies by province, based on the volume of its emissions.

The federal Finance Department has said a couple with two children would receive $307 on average in Ontario and $609 on average in Saskatchewan.

Mr. Scheer, the Conservative Leader, has not yet released his environmental plan. However, he made clear at a Jan. 1 news conference that fighting the Liberal plan will be a key theme for the year ahead.

“This time next year, I plan on being able to tell Canadians that Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax is a thing of the past,” he said.

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