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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

Every time I end up in the United States after a Presidential election, I'm always amazed at their drawn-out transition process before a new President is sworn in - in January of the following year. There is the daily speculation about who will serve in the new cabinet and the media is full of daily coverage of the various personalities who are visiting the Trump Tower in New York City. The fact that the in-coming President is a personality like Donald Trump makes the whole process seem like a three-ring circus.

This time, however, there is the added speculation of how the Russian government of Putin may have interfered in the American election by hacking into the various computer systems of the major political parties. It makes our Canadian parliamentary system extremely structured and boring to the average citizen. I am sure the American people will muddle their way through the process and life will go on for the average citizen. We Canadians will have to watch with interest and also be prepared for change because when the American elephant rolls over, Canadians have the unfortunate experience of having to get out of the way or get squashed by our largest trading partner.

This past week, Canadians were treated to the First Ministers' conference on climate change. It was good to see the Prime Minister and the Premiers sitting down at the table discussing a topic which many of us feel strongly about both for the environment we live in and what it will do to our pocketbooks. First Ministers' conferences had become a thing of the past under the Harper government but I am pleased to see that the new Prime Minister believes that it is important for himself and the Premiers to sit down and discuss important topics that affect all Canadians. It is extremely important that our democratic institutions be open as possible to the voters of this country.

The part that I find bizarre in this whole discussion of carbon taxation is that we are going into a new taxation regime which places a value on a product without having a true mechanism to establish the value of that product. It seems like the Federal government is arbitrarily assigning a price to carbon which is viewed as one of the major influences in climate change.

By attaching a monetary value to it, the theory is that we Canadians will find ways to produce less of it and therefore reduce the impact of our civilization on our environment. I won't pass judgement on the theory because we are too new in the game. What I would pass judgement on is the pricing mechanism. Almost every commodity that we use or consume in our everyday lives has a price discovery mechanism attached to it.

I as a farmer can find out the price of every commodity I produce on a daily basis in various exchanges in North America and around the world. The people that buy my products do the same thing so that they can establish what they in turn will sell the finished products for. Most raw materials in the world are traded that way with open discovery being the ultimate goal.

I realize that most people don't watch the commodity exchanges on a daily basis but I think it would have been incumbent on the Federal government who are leading this initiative to perhaps establish some type of carbon trading exchange or some other discovery mechanism before placing a price on this so-called harmful commodity. If you want Canadians to actively find ways to reduce the reliance on this product, then I think there should be offsets that we can strive for and be rewarded for using as an alternative.

I've always found that it is better to reward people for working hard, for being innovative and for using their minds and education to come up with new solutions rather than simply being punitive and dogmatic. That is how the various generations on this farm have been able to survive and succeed and I think it is how many Canadians have built this country. We are an entrepreneurial and thinking society. I am not saying no to the concept of a carbon tax but I would like the opportunity to be rewarded for changing my ways and at the same time, making a better world. The current process does not do that to the degree I would like to see.

Our Premier says no because he squandered a boom and can't balance his budget. Other Premiers are saying yes because they have systems already in place and won't have to change their ways. I think Canadians would like to see something that has a longer term affect than simply fulfilling the four-year election plans of various politicians and satisfying their budget demands.

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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons

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