This article examines the Conservative leadership candidates’ negative reaction to a proposal from candidate Michael Chong to establish a carbon tax as a plank in the federal Conservative Party’s platform.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Environmental studies, world issues, politics

Key Questions to Explore:

  • Why is there such a negative reaction to the proposal of a carbon tax?
  • Why is Michael Chong suggesting such a tax?
  • What position on climate change is each of the candidates taking?
  • What priority are the candidates giving to climate change and the need to address it?

New Terminology:

Carbon tax

Materials Needed:

Copies of the article for the students and access to the Internet for research

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

The federal Conservative Party is in the middle of a leadership race to replace Stephen Harper after they lost power in the last federal election. As the candidates struggle to establish claim to the leadership, various issues and positions arise. How they resolve these issues will go a long way in determining whether or not they are seen as a viable option to the current federal Liberal government. The schedule of debates will help to define the ultimate platform of the party and establish priorities as they build toward the next federal election. Michael Chong’s proposal to establish a carbon tax as part of the platform has helped to clarify the positions of the various candidates. Based on the reactions of the candidates as outlined in the article environmental concerns are taking a backseat to economic ones. This lesson will have the students examine the stated positions of the candidates to actions designed to address climate change and to determine how serious they believe the Conservative Party would be in taking necessary steps to address climate change.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Ask the students if they can identify any of the candidates currently contesting the leadership of the federal Conservative Party.
  • Make a list of the names identified.
  • Complete the list if necessary (candidates)
  • Ask the students to indicate how important they believe it is for Canada to take action to address climate change.
  • Ask them if they would support a carbon tax as a means of addressing climate change.
  • Have them provide reasons for their answer.
  • Arrange the students in small groups and give them the article to read and discuss in their groups.
  • Ask them to discuss, based on what they read in the article, whether or not they believe the Conservative Party is likely to establish plans to address climate change as a top priority for its election platform.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Have each group report its position and respond to any questions or comments from the class.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

The students will be able to:

  • Identify how Michael Chong’s proposal for a carbon tax was generally received by the other candidates.
  • Give reasons why the candidates do not consider it to be a good idea.
  • Offer an informed opinion about whether or not they believe addressing climate change will be a top priority for the Conservatives.

Confirming Activity:

  • Assign various candidates to the groups and have them research and report on their candidates’ positions on initiatives to address climate change.