Right now, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative party are blanketing the airwaves with a US-style attack ad campaign against NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.
In one of the ads the very serious voice-over tells us that “according to experts Mulcair’s carbon tax will raise gas by 10 cents a litre.”
A little research finds that the “experts” in the ad, are in fact a singular expert named Jack Mintz, who in a news release correcting a tweet he made in April of last year estimated that the NDP carbon tax plan, put forth by the now-deceased NDP leader Jack Layton, not Mulcair, would result in a gas price hike of 10 cents a litre.
Interestingly enough Jack Mintz sits on the board of directors of Imperial Oil Canada, which is owned by ExxonMobil. Regular readers of this site know that ExxonMobil has a long and sordid history when it comes to attacks on climate change science and policy.
Now to be sure, I am not proposing some grand conspiracy here. Mintz is a well known and respected economist, has been outspoken and insightful on his views about pricing industrial carbon emissions, and in fact supports the idea of a carbon tax. According to a recent Maclean’s Magazine article, Mintz says he thinks that:
“…the appropriate approach to pricing carbon is a carbon tax, not a cap-and-trade system.”
And further, Mintz claims in the Maclean’s article that it was an academic report co-authored by Mintz that was the basis for the Liberal Greenshift plan that was attacked so visciously by Harper and the Conservatives in the Stephane Dion days of the Liberal Party of Canada.
While Mintz’s 10 cents per litre hike in gas prices may be correct, the only source I can find for his projection is in this news release Mintz issued about an inconsistent tweet he made.
You would think that a national ad campaign by the ruling federal party would be based on more than a news release about a tweet!
(An interesting side note is that the media contact on the Mintz release is none other than Morten Paulsen, someone well known to DeSmogBlog).
Two other sources I found that made projections on the Layton carbon tax plan put the price at a much lower estimate of around 4 cents a litre.
So it seems an actual cost projection for the plan is up in the air with different experts landing on different price points. But listening to the Conservatives’ latest ads you would think there is no debate about the outcome of the NDP‘s plan and that it is with great certainty that Mulcair and his party will drive Canada into the ground with a 10 cent per litre hike in the price of gas.
I spent the last two years living in Washington, DC where the airwaves are full of viscious political attack ads. In the U.S. Presidential election that just concluded we saw more half-truths and outright lies spouted by politicians and talking heads than possibly any other time in US political history.
Canada has always held itself to a higher standard when it comes to political debate.
It is a shame that Harper and his partisan allies think they have to resort to such petty tactics to win elections. For better or for worse, the Conservative Party rules our country and they need to treat Canadian democracy with the respect it deserves, not stoop to new lows in deceptive attack ads.