Forget a "carbon tax". We can keep the gas tax (and divert it to cities as we had promised in 2006). The bottom line is: oil companies want to (read: HAVE to) operate in Canada. We have them by the figurative "short and curlies". There must be a price for them to operate in Canada. A price that the Saudi's extract, the Kuwaiti's extract, heck, all of OPEC extracts... Cheap gas for their residents.
The Liberal promise should be this: We will control gas prices domestically. We've a population smaller than the state of California. We can be granted this by Big Oil - in exchange for access to (read: "exploitation of") resources which BELONG TO THE CANADIAN PEOPLE.
If the foreign oil companies don't like it, there are plenty of smaller CANADIAN companies ready to earn billions exploiting our resource.
Yes, we would still regulate pollutants - and ensure that along with the provinces we extract fines and fees associated with VERY STRICT federal pollution standards. The KEY however will be the control of gas prices. Oil companies will still profit (hell yeah, we know how much they make on a barrel or liter). It will be the price they pay to access our resource.
What would the political fallout be? Well, some oil companies MAY not donate to the federal Liberals anymore - but we're trying to get away from corporate donors anyway. A lot of people working for Big Oil won't vote for us... Yeah right - like they do right now anyway! We may lose a seat in Alberta... Oh wait! We DON'T HAVE ANY SEATS IN ALBERTA! Besides, we may earn votes from those - particularly in urban areas - who don't work for Big Oil. We could actually GAIN seats in urban Alberta!
What other political ramifications would there be? How about cheaper gas EVERYWHERE in Canada. Guaranteed by the federal government. Real action for a real problem. Our transport industry would be ecstatic. Commodity prices would come down, as the cost to transport them across this land would come down.
What is the purpose of "owning" a resource IF OUR PEOPLE DON'T BENEFIT? It is the DUTY of our federal governments to ensure resources are mined/drilled/extracted with the benefit of the population in mind - not to line the pockets of mega-billionaire industrialists from the US. We have greater oil reserves than the US. We have almost what the Saudis do - some say even more... Know what the Saudis pay at the pump? It'll sicken you. Go to Bahrain, Dubai, UAE, Kuwait (yeah, the country where the man and material cost of drilling is WAY higher than Canada - I'm talking about the cost in lives and military hardware). All these nations benefit from ridiculously low gas prices.
What about the environment? With the economic stimulus provided by cheap fuel, the gov't will be awash in funds... These funds would be used to provide strong incentives to be green. REAL tax breaks for buying fuel efficient vehicles (which would also stimulate the auto industry). Levies on "gas-pigs" - SUVs (which are not "work vehicles"), while ensuring that pickups (the lifeblood of farms and small business) are made more fuel efficient (We could ban the sale of non-hybrid, or non-clean-diesel pickups, and tax-rebate back the cost difference of hybrids to consumers). Tax breaks or grants for retrofitting your home with better insulation, solar, or geo-thermal heat. This would immediately benefit the construction industry (which is seeing a home building slow-down). Some of the federal funds (all the fuel tax funds) would be channeled to urban areas, and would have to be earmarked for REAL fuel saving projects, such as: transit systems which people can actually use to get to work, transit-only lanes, more car-pool lanes. All these incentives and levies would have the same (or better) net effect of higher fuel prices - without the associated slow-down in the economy.
So... do we want to guarantee an election victory? Are we bold? Do we want to join the ranks of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other OPEC countries in receiving the benefits WE DESERVE for our resources? Resources OWNED BY THE CANADIAN PEOPLE? Let's see what the voters think. We should be pleasantly rewarded.