June 25, 2008 / 1:25 PM / 9 years ago

Liberals face battle over Green Shift name

3 Min Read

<p>Liberal leader Stephane Dion announces his party's carbon tax plan during an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa June 19, 2008.Chris Wattie</p>

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Liberal Party is facing a possible lawsuit for launching its new carbon-tax plan under the banner Green Shift, the same name as a Toronto-based environmental consulting company.

Jennifer Wright, the company's owner, said the Liberal Party called her only the night before leader Stephane Dion outlined the plan to the public.

Wright, who has almost finished trademarking the name of her 10-year-old company, has sent the Liberals a cease and desist letter and hasn't ruled out the possibility of a lawsuit.

"If they were wrong and they didn't know, here's their opportunity to bow out gracefully now and say I'm sorry," she said.

The political party's website www.thegreenshift.ca is also remarkably similar to the company's web address www.greenshift.ca.

Under the Liberal plan, which the opposition party is likely to make a central plank in the next election campaign, taxes would go up on fuel oil, diesel, natural gas, coal and jet fuel -- and indirectly on some electricity.

The taxes would be designed to cut consumption of fossil fuels and improve the environment. The revenue would get passed back to taxpayers through cuts in personal and corporate income taxes.

Joseph Mayer, the Liberal Party's director of communications, said that although the party realized prior to the plan's launch there was another entity with the Green Shift name he believes "it was too close to shift back."

He said that from the party's perspective the two groups share the same environmental values and it's unfortunate there is a difference of opinion.

But Wright doesn't see it that way. She said she has been flooded with negative e-mails from people who feel the company has sold out to a political party.

Mayer said the party does not plan to change the plan's name, adding the Liberals are pleased with the public reaction so far and are not concerned the controversy could detract from the positive feedback.

In order to offset some of the confusion over the Green Shift name, the Liberal Party has added a disclaimer at the bottom of its website, directing people to Wright's site and saying there is no affiliation.

Reporting by Patricia Launt; editing by Rob Wilson

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