I should probably comment on our PM's so-called carbon policy. Basically, it's probably doomed. Let's start with this: carbon capture and sequestration, the lynchpin of the Tory plan, is a blind alley. There is no real reason to believe that emitting carbon, capturing it, and storing it is ever going to be cheaper than not emitting carbon in the first place. Let's start by taking IGCC coal plants -- ones that don't capture and sequester. Only capital costs for these plants have been going through the roof, to the point now where coal, once the "cheap" fuel, is now more expensive than wind or natural gas. In West Virginia -- coal country if there ever was -- the estimate for this "cleaner" coal power comes to a whopping $3,500/kW of power, which is closing in on nuclear pricing. Adding a carbon tax or a requirement for sequestration is obviously going to add to these costs.
Interestingly, the earliest beneficiaries of the death of coal will probably be natural gas plants. Most of the gas plants we've built in the last decades are peaking plants, meaning that they only run for a few hours a day. But there's no physical reason why they couldn't be run longer as the economics become more favourable: before we build a single new nuclear plant (or wind turbine, or solar plant) we'll be cleaning the air by putting coal out of business and running gas plants longer. Of course, we'll be paying more money if we burn coal or not, so let's at least get the clean air, right?
The other point is that Canada's natural gas industry is facing a rapid decline in the next few years, so that increased use of natural gas will mean increased reliance on imports -- probably, in this case, liquid natural gas imports from Russia or Qatar. But the energy balance of LNG is so bad that it's effectively as CO2-intense as coal, or worse.
So: coal is becoming too expensive to use, natural gas is about as bad (expensive and carbon-intense) and oil just hit $109/barrel. The only sensible option is to just stop using carbon fuels.
Instead, our government is handing out hundreds of millions of dollars to coal and oil companies in the hopes of creating a continent-spanning network of CO2 pipelines, all of which will need to be far more reliable than our current gas infrastructure if they're going to be really effective from an environmental standpoint.
It's actually emblematic of the choices presented by Thomas Homer-Dixon (channeling Joseph Tainter) in The Upside of Down: societies can choose to invest energy/time in complex solutions, until the complexity starts to overwhelm them, or at a certain point they can invest in simplicity, retrench, and invest in less failure-prone, less complex solutions instead. Oddly, Homer-Dixon supports carbon capture technologies, which makes me wonder if he's read his own book. Carbon sequestration seems, to me, to be a classic example of an investment that will a) not pay the kinds of dividends we need, b) be extremely complex relative to the alternatives, and c) not be resilient the way the 21st century will need technology to be.
Any dollar spent on sequestration will be one dollar less spent on renewables and efficiency. And in a watt-for-watt comparison, sequestered carbon is probably cheating us out of several more dollars worth of carbon-free energy. Why we would make that choice is beyond me, but hey, it's the Canadian government.