09/21/2012 05:18 EDT | Updated 11/21/2012 05:12 EST

Carbon Tax is Not the Villain in This Political Fairytale


Mr. Krushchev said we will bury you

I don't subscribe to this point of view

It would be such an ignorant thing to do

If the Russians love their children too

Sting wrote these lyrics regarding the threat of nuclear war from the Soviet Union, but they seem relevant again, this time in the context of the federal Conservatives' cynical push to make the NDP wear the "carbon tax" label by simply saying it often enough.

It likely didn't occur to the strategists in the permanent Conservative Party war room that they would be mounting this branding push at a time when the severity of the impacts of climate change would be on such full display. The number crunchers who micro-target segments of the Canadian voting population probably don't get their news feeds from the various agencies that monitor arctic sea ice or the drought conditions now savaging farmers across North America.

So now we have the spectacle of the trained seals of the Conservative Party standing up to berate the NDP over a carbon tax that the NDP itself has (wrongly) campaigned against, at the very same time as story after story tells us how much trouble humans are in as a species by not quickly replacing carbon intensive energy sources like the tar sands with the abundant clean energy sources at our disposal.

You wonder whether this leads to any cognitive dissonance within the ranks, whether Conservative MPs have any deeper sense of being utterly tone deaf on the issue that even Stephen Harper has been quoted as saying is "perhaps the biggest threat to confront the future of humanity today." If, that is, we believe that Harper believed what he was saying, and not just making stuff up, like he has told his troops to do today.

While these MPs do travel in packs and reinforce to one another what are acceptable standards of decency in the "post-truth" environment they seek to create, they nonetheless leave Ottawa from time to time to face constituents and their families. They may need a wink and a nudge to justify saying all those, er, untruths, because it's just the way the game works, right, and everybody does it. It's not like being principled wins anymore.

But then they may find themselves in quiet everyday moments, watching the domestic bustle unfold around them, and wondering what the world will be like for their grandkids who have come over to visit, or for their young nephews and nieces they see playing at family gatherings.

And at those moments, they will return, at least inside themselves, to the real-truth environment where they know that the political theatre they allow to exist is in fact toxic to the interests of their young relatives who are entirely dependent on our elected officials to make responsible decisions in the here and now.

The question, though, is whether those same MPs will act on that inner knowledge and go against the strategists in the war room by rejecting ignorance. The question is whether their love of their children will prevail over cynicism, and whether they will reach for solutions and help us rapidly transition to a green economy, as they must if we are not all to be buried by our carbon folly.