Cold Hard Wonk

No sentiment but politics

Irrelevant Truths, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Posted by JJ in Bad Press, Gaia (Monday January 15, 2007 at 2:39 am)

As the trainwreck of journalism at the Star continues, the following crops up:

The Conservatives have avoided any linkage between tax policy and environmental reform.

Which explains the Conservatives’ marketing of their transit pass tax credit:

Now public transit helps you protect the environment and save more money.

Perhaps the Star was merely being meticulously pedantic. After all, it’s a tax credit the Conservatives are promoting, not a policy of issuing tax credits. If so, gentlemen, then bravo.

Of course, the government’s program is really far more tax credit than environmental protection; but that doesn’t justify the spread of falsehood or the substitution of prejudice for analysis.

So why not engage in just a bit?

The transitpass has already been mooted, vetted, and rejected hereabouts when it comes to helping the environment. But that’s not the only kind of government rebate “linked” to the environment. After all, the Energuide program for homes provided rebates of up to $7,000 to homeowners improving the efficiency of their homes (until axed by the Conservatives last year). And that program, in place since 1998, can’t be credited with making a real environmental impact if you consider that the environmental situation has only deteriorated since then.

Which goes to show only this: a system of tax incentives linked to environmental policies may be more popular than a tax incentive without such a connection; but that doesn’t mean that such incentives provide anything more than monetary benefits.

Persuading the voters that they can save money and help the environment is like shooting fish in a barrel (the fish, not you). What Canadians are still waiting on is a proposal to stop the practices that cause so much trouble in the first place. And where past incentives have failed miserably to accomplish that goal, it’s hard to put much faith in their future reincarnations.

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