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Writer’s Block: Tax talk driving up hot air emissions

Bill Phillips. Free Press file


Kudos to Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew. They put their money where their mouths are (or, more aptly, provincial taxpayers’ money).

Lost amongst the rhetoric and hyperbole surrounding the April 1 carbon tax increase across the country is the news Ford and Kinew, despite being among the seven premiers urging Ottawa to hold off on the carbon tax increase, have overseen a decrease of provincial fuel taxes in those provinces.

It is somewhat hypocritical for premiers to argue that a federal tax increase on fuel is harmful to the economy while maintaining, or increasing (as Alberta did this week) fuel taxes in their own jurisdictions. Granted, provinces shouldn’t have to pay for federal tax increases, but if such taxes are so devastating to our economy, as ‘axe the tax’ folks are making them out to be, shouldn’t the provinces be doing their bit to ease our burden as well?

Or, heaven forbid, is there politics being played here?

In addition, provinces have always had an option to opt out of the federal carbon tax. Do something on their own. Here in B.C. we’ve had a provincial carbon tax since 2008 … instituted by the former Liberal government of which current B.C. United leader Kevin Falcon was a cabinet minister of. Falcon, in case you missed it, has joined the anti-tax chorus.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, playing his own politics this week, challenged the provinces come up with their own ways to reduce carbon emissions if they want to opt out of the carbon tax. The response was akin to smashing cymbals underwater … garbled and pretty quiet.

So, is the debate about the tax or about whether we should reduce carbon emissions? Ask yourself that first.

Certainly, federal politicians certainly haven’t done a good job of explaining whether the carbon tax is actually doing its job, and that doesn’t help anyone. However, according to Environment Canada, Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2021 were 670 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2 eq), a 1.8 per cent increase from 659 Mt CO2 eq in 202. But, from 2005 to 2021, Canada’s GHG emissions decreased by 8.4 per cent (62 Mt CO2 eq).

The federal carbon tax was instituted in 2019, so there is at least an indication it has had the desired effect.

Economists around the world and here in Canada have long touted a carbon tax as an effective tool to reduce carbon emissions. Canada is one of 27 countries around the world that has a carbon tax.

I still think the rebate, or tax credit program like we have here in B.C., is a bit goofy, because the point of the tax is to force us to change our habits because things get more expensive. It kind of worked with tobacco, but not so much with alcohol.

That being said, we need more of a dialogue that consists of more than sloganeering. Rather than ‘axe the tax,’ and ‘spike the hike’ maybe we need ‘scare the Pierre.’ (Sorry couldn’t resist.)

More importantly, we need those who seek to govern us, at all levels, to show us their plans for reducing carbon emissions.

Bill Phillips is an award-winning columnist with 35 years of experience in community newspapers.

Carolyn Grant

About the Author: Carolyn Grant

I have been with the Kimberley Bulletin since 2001 and have enjoyed every moment of it.
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