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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh speaks during the annual Press Gallery Dinner in Ottawa, on April 13.Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press

The carbon price is a dead tax walking. NDP leaders Jagmeet Singh and Wab Kinew are both helping to kill it.

We are moving toward a remarkable place in which the New Democrats and the Conservatives have similar positions against the tax. Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alone is prepared to defend it – even to his political death.

Mr. Singh, the federal NDP leader, signalled his party’s shift in a speech on Thursday, in which he declared that fighting global warming “can’t be done by letting working people … bear the cost of climate change while big polluters make bigger and bigger profits.”

The NDP leader told reporters his party was developing a new climate-change policy focused on penalizing corporate polluters: “It should not be that a working class person has to make that choice that, ‘am I on the climate-fighting side, or am I on the affordability side?’”

On Friday, the NDP muddied the waters with an ambiguous statement that maintained the party still supported placing a consumer price on carbon. But this desk remains convinced that, as far as the NDP is concerned, the carbon tax in its current form must go.

Mr. Singh will be following in the footsteps of Mr. Kinew, who cancelled a provincial gas tax shortly after becoming Manitoba’s new NDP Premier.

“I think the single greatest threat to climate change is if we lose a generation of Canadians,” he told The Globe and Mail’s editorial board. The high cost of living has many young workers feeling they are never going to be able to get ahead, he said, and that resentment is crystallizing around the carbon tax.

“The economics textbook is going to lay out the argument for using prices to incentivize behaviour, but in the real world … we have to be flexible to show that we understand where people are at right now,” he said.

The Premier hopes to build consensus around a new plan to further decarbonize the grid, promote electric vehicles and tax industrial emitters. The new federal NDP plan may well mirror the Manitoba plan.

The leading candidate in the Alberta NDP leadership contest, Naheed Nenshi, expressed reservations eight years ago as Calgary mayor about elements of a provincial carbon tax. Another candidate, former deputy premier Sarah Hoffman, has declared that “the consumer carbon tax is dead.” Candidate Rakhi Pancholi also declared her opposition to the tax, before dropping out and endorsing Mr. Nenshi.

Don’t be surprised if the Alberta NDP joins its Manitoba and federal counterparts in opposing the carbon tax. But Mr. Trudeau remains defiant.

“I understand the political pressures on the NDP leadership right now and the challenges of holding an unpopular position, but doing the right thing should be something that progressive voters in this country can count on,” he said Friday.

I’ll say it again. At least you have to admire his courage.

Nonetheless, it is now perfectly clear: Both the Conservatives under Pierre Poilievre and the NDP under Mr. Singh aim to replace the carbon tax by enhancing other measures already in place. That means some combination of taxing industrial emissions, greening infrastructure and offering subsidies, although each party will place varying emphasis on different measures.

The Liberals are far behind the Conservatives and dangerously close to the New Democrats in popular support. It will be interesting to see if the NDP’s shift is reflected in the polls.

The economics textbooks are right. Relying on subsidies, investments and corporate penalties, without also pricing carbon for consumers, will cost consumers more in the end. But they won’t see that cost. It will be a hidden part of the their tax bill, or part of a government’s deficit. It will become embedded in the price of goods or contribute to low productivity. Or all of the above.

But a tax not seen is a tax not resented. The late Brian Mulroney learned that lesson to his sorrow three decades ago when his government replaced the hidden manufacturers sales tax with the all-too-visible GST.

If you’re in a jurisdiction where the federal carbon tax is levied, you’re going to have to pay it for another year and a half, unless Mr. Trudeau calls an early election. After that, it will almost certainly be gone.

The Conservatives are determined to make it so, and the NDP now seems to agree.

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