I have a long memory for Canadian elections, and as I was watching the results come in on October 14, it was the election of 1965 that kept coming into my mind. Like Stephen Harper, Lester Pearson presided over a minority government, and like Harper he called a snap election to try to gain a majority. Again like Harper, he failed.
And yet, the stasis in 1965 was only apparent. For that was the election that brought to Ottawa the “Three Wise Men” from Quebec – Jean Marchand, Gérard Pelletier and, most consequentially, Pierre Elliott Trudeau – who would be dominant players in Canadian politics through the 1970s and beyond.
What about 2008? Were the results so ably dissected in the following pages by Harvey Schachter and Claire Durand as inconclusive as they appeared? Or did something major happen whose significance will only become evident later? Is there some new personality on Canada’s political scene (Leona Aglukkaq, or maybe Justin?) from whom we have only begun to hear? Or is there an issue that figured in this election whose full impact has not yet been felt?
If the 2008 election does turn out to be more than a blip, it will more likely be because of an issue than because of a personality, and that issue is climate change and carbon pricing – especially in the form of carbon taxes – as a policy response to it. Economists broadly favour a carbon tax, but their support has yet to translate into political acceptance. The articles in this section by John Richards, Marvin Shaffer and Mark Jaccard and colleagues, along with the open letter signed during the election campaign by 255 economists (a remarkable show of solidarity in the economics profession), provide a guide to the debate on this issue.