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Liberals have Kyoto blues

Credits: (Donato)

LORRIE GOLDSTEIN | TORONTO SUN

Once the federal Liberals decide how to elect their next leader and whether it's going to be Bob Rae, they will need to get down to the job of convincing people to vote for them.

A good start would be to develop a national energy policy for adults, as opposed to the indecipherable mess they left in their wake when the lost power in 2006.

Ever since Pierre Trudeau's National Energy Program in 1980 permanently alienated Alberta from the party, Liberals don't appear to have thought very much, or very clearly, about the reality Canada relies for a great deal of its prosperity on oil and natural gas.

Their infatuation with "green" energy for the past two decades - in which they've resembled children running through the house with scissors - speaks to this.

In the 1993 election that brought the Liberals to power, Jean Chretien, Paul Martin and Chaviva Hosek promised in their red book to reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels to 20% below 1988 levels by 2005.

This completely unrealistic target, which Chretien lifted from a similar promise made by the Brian Mulroney Progressive Conservatives in 1988, would have bankrupted the country, had either party ever tried to implement it, which they didn't.

But Chretien wouldn't let this absurd idea go, signing on to the United Nations' Kyoto accord in 1998.

He committed Canada to reducing our emissions to a less severe, but still utterly unattainable target of an average of 6% below 1990 levels from 2008 to 2012.

This after getting into a bidding war with then U.S. vice-president Al Gore over which country would make the more fantastical commitment to Kyoto, which Paul Wells describes in his 2006 book, Right Side Up: The Fall of Paul Martin and the Rise of Stephen Harper's New Conservatism.

Under Chretien, the Liberals ratified Kyoto in 2002 - bringing it into force - despite the fact, as top Chretien adviser Eddie Goldenberg later acknowledged in a 2007 speech reported by The Canadian Press, the government knew it was in no position to deliver on its commitment. (Google, "Not ready for Kyoto, Chretien adviser says.")

The Liberals today insist they were moving to implement Kyoto when they lost power in 2006, which is ... um ... somewhat difficult to believe, given their history on the issue.

Following that, the Liberals went from disaster to disaster politically, losing more seats in the 2008 election under Stephane Dion and his "Green Shift" plan, which even he could never explain, followed by Michael Ignatieff's crash-and-burn in last year's election.

In that campaign, Ignatieff and the Liberals, consistent with their almost two-decade history of appearing to pull their "green" policies out of a Cracker Jack box, promised to implement a Canadian cap-and-trade market, regardless of what the United States did.

Had the Liberals won (or won enough seats to form a minority or coalition government with the NDP, who made the same promise) and tried to implement this, they would have finally succeeded in wrecking our economy.

First, cap-and-trade has been a disaster in Europe where it (a) hasn't lowered emissions (b) has driven electricity prices into the stratosphere and (c) is riddled with multi-billion-dollar frauds which European police forces are constantly chasing down.

Second, implementing cap-and-trade without the U.S. doing the same thing - where Barack Obama's cap-and-trade bill died in Congress - would have been devastating to Canada's economy, hitting us with new charges our American neighbors would not be paying.

So, to sum up, it would be a good idea for the next Liberal leader to come up with an energy policy that doesn't look like it's been written on the back of a napkin.

Of course, that's only if the Grits want to get elected again.

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