Justin Trudeau
This is going to be the year of the carbon tax even more so than last year. It's the year the Saskatchewan reference question gears up in the courts. It's the year Jason Kenney, noted carbon tax foe, likely becomes Alberta Premier. And it's federal election year, where Justin Trudeau and Catherine McKenna do everything they can to shame the country into submission on this deeply divided issue.

No observer of the scene expects the protests we've seen out West, largely against the tax, to die down anytime soon. But then again nobody expects Trudeau, a true believer, to drop the issue.

The PM is facing a situation similar to the electoral reform debate. It was deeply controversial, with both sides hunkered into their corners. Passions were strong. And it became clear that there was no consensus but rather confusion and acrimony. Trudeau did the wise thing and put a pause on the whole project.

Don't expect the same to happen here. He's not going to back down on this one. In fact, he's more likely to increase the carbon tax if and when he wins the next election.

"Conservative leader says Trudeau will hike carbon tax if he wins vote in 2019," was the headline of a Canadian Press story from the other week. But it was odd to frame it as if this is Andrew Scheer's opinion. Because it's not. It's fact.

Since 2016, various government documents have explained that the carbon tax will be reviewed in 2022 and that will include "continued increases in stringency." That means increasing the rate per tonne up from $50 - the cross-my-fingers-behind-my-back figure Trudeau says is the current max - to something probably resembling the $135 per tonne that the latest alarmist UN report demands.

So the increasing of the tax isn't really the question. What is the question is what comes next. What's their next tactical move? Because if this current advance succeeds and the carbon tax is firmly in place for years to come, they're not going to suddenly stop and say all is well.

I'm not using these military phrases randomly either. It's how the activists think of this - as a battle.

For example, here's how my colleague Lorrie Goldstein recently explained Elizabeth May's views:
"Unique among the mainstream party leaders, May says, honestly, that meeting Canada's current emission reduction targets - much less the steeper ones advocated by the Greens - would require significant sacrifices from Canadians. She compares it to the evacuation of Dunkirk during the Second World War when, as she put it, in humanity's "darkest hour" ordinary citizens put aside their political differences and united to fight a common enemy that was, for that generation, another global, man-made threat to humanity."
What's next then? What's the offensive strike that comes after the carbon tax? One possibility is a meat tax. We could soon see a large push for governments to treat grocery store meat the same way as booze and smokes, by hitting it with a massive sin tax.

It sounds like fringe nonsense but it's alarmingly mainstream. Here's an excerpt from a CBC story from 2016: "Taxing meat and animal byproducts would discourage demand and stave off climate change, says the lead author of the study, Marco Springmann. The University of Oxford researcher says world governments need to buy in."

And here's the sort of talking point, found on PETA's website, that could become a regular part of the activist toolkit: "A study by the University of Chicago found that going vegan is 50% more effective in fighting climate change than switching from a standard car to a hybrid."

The carbon tax as the final frontier? Nope. Just the current one. After that, brace yourself for the next attack.