An article in last week’s Times (“Climate conference lobbies for fee-and-dividend“) reported on days one and two of a Citizens Climate Lobby conference that your editor attended in Ottawa the second last weekend in November.
Days three and four of the conference were when the rubber hit the road.
After two days of workshops, the nearly 70 participants at the conference fanned out across Parliament Hill to speak to 43 MPs and senators to tell them about using carbon fee-and-dividend to control climate change.
Carbon fee-and-dividend would basically be a carbon tax on all fossil fuels but, instead of the money going into general revenue, it would be distributed to every adult as equal dividends.
Most of the participants came back from their meetings optimistic. The general feeling was that there is movement happening behind the scenes in Ottawa on this issue.
Your editor visited three people on the Hill: our own Conservative M.P. for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, Cathy McLeod, New Democrat finance critic Nathan Cullen, the M.P. for Bulkley-Skeena, and Senator Nancy Greene Raine of Kamloops, also a Conservative.
The meeting with Cathy McLeod went well. She is Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labor and Western Diversification. As such, she has a nice office in the Justice Building with a beautiful view of the Ottawa River.
With me on the visit were Sonia Furstenau and Blaise Salmon of the Cowichan Valley, Geoff Richards of (I believe) Waterloo, Ontario, and Michael Polanyi of Toronto.
McLeod was, perhaps not surprisingly, the perfect hostess – quickly putting everyone at ease.
One got the impression that she was happy to meet with ordinary Canadians to talk about an issue, rather than with professional lobbyists.
Her questions were shrewd and forthright, although one never knew quite what her own thinking might be. She often used phrasing such as, “There are those who say that …” and then asked for a response.
The meeting with Nathan Cullen was not quite so relaxed, possibly because he was expecting to be called away to a vote in the House of Commons.
“Let’s start at the end and work back,” he said, wanting to make sure we covered the meat of the meeting first.
The other CCL members at this meeting were Sonia Furstenau and Blaise Salmon of the Cowichan Valley, Laura Sacks of Nelson, and Nicole Melanson of Saltspring Island.
New Democratic policy is to seek a cap-and-trade approach to climate change control, rather than fee-and-dividend.
Cullen conceded this approach has problems, as the different types of cap-and-trade can be complicated, making it too easy to cheat.
The NDP finance critic asked some tough questions about the fee-and-dividend approach. One got the impression, however, that he might have been looking for good answers that he could use if he brought the subject up elsewhere.
Your editor’s final meeting was with Senator Nancy Greene Raine late on the Tuesday morning, Nov. 25. She was between meetings in the East Block and, as her office is in another building, we had to meet in the hallway by the security counter.
The meeting was to have been for a half-hour but the senator was detained and it only lasted for 15 minutes.
The former world ski champion was apologetic for the inconvenience but a fair amount of information was exchanged nevertheless. Greene Raine was skeptical about some aspects regarding human-caused global warming.
She showed some interest, though, in the dividend side of the fee-and-dividend proposal, which would help those on limited incomes and stimulate the economy.
Those attending the meeting with me included Laura Sacks of Nelson, Rachael Derbyshire of Guelph, Cathy Lacroix of Toronto and Valerie Blab of Red Lake, Ontario.