Manning: Putting a price on energy will do more for environment than ‘micro-regulating’ citizens

WATCH: Preston Manning tells Tom Clark why he feels we need to put a price on carbon and why those revenues from carbon  should be spent on innovation.

The idea of a carbon tax has long been anathema in the ranks of Canada’s Conservative party. But now, there appears to be a rift. Preston Manning, one of the architects of conservatism in Canada, is breaking ranks. He says carbon, like any other commodity, needs to have a price put on it.

But, he says, the idea does not run against the fundamental idea of conservatism.

Manning’s idea: Put a price on all energy production — whether oil, gas or hydro — then use the revenue to fund research into technology to help reverse the environmental degradation.

The Conservative government, though, has all but ruled out the option.

Story continues below advertisement

WATCH: Ottawa Citizen parliamentary bureau chief Mark Kennedy unpacks the politics of climate change and carbon pricing as we head  into an election year.

Meanwhile, climate leaders and politicians from around the world are in Peru this week to set additional goals on greenhouse gas emissions — and the UN has called specifically on Canada to do more on climate change.

“The UN is looking at it from an international level and that puts pressure on the national, all the federal governments,” said Manning, founder and CEO of the Manning Centre for Building Democracy, and an advisor to a new group called, The Eco-Fiscal Commission.

“But as I understand this Eco-Fiscal Commission, they want to focus more on the local dimensions and the provincial dimensions of integrating economic development and environmental conversation. And the approach they’re going to take … is to try to come at these problems not through massive government intervention and micro-regulation of the lives of individuals and firms and households, but to try to harness pricing mechanisms.”

Story continues below advertisement