We can fight climate change without increasing taxes

October 08, 2016

On Monday, Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government announced a new tax on Canadian families and businesses that will have serious implications on your wallet for years to come. 

The tax that Justin Trudeau announced is a “floor price” on carbon pollution of $10 a tonne in 2018, rising to $50 a tonne by 2022.  While provinces and territories can choose to collect this tax through a carbon price or a cap-and-trade system, failure to implement a system by 2018 will result in the federal government implementing the price themselves.  So what does that mean for you?  This tax is the equivalent of adding 11.5 cents to a litre of gas and according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation; it could add over $2,500 in new taxes each year to the average family’s tax bill. 

For elites in big Canadian cities or families of privilege like Justin Trudeau’s, $2,500 may not mean a lot.  But families in Saskatchewan certainly do not have an extra $2,500 to spare to give to government.  This new tax is the equivalent of a family vacation each year. It’s $2,500 less that you can put towards your children’s education.  It’s $2,500 less to put away in your RRSP.  It’s less money to put towards your mortgage.  It’s less money for seniors to put towards their gas and food bills.  While urban centres in Canada’s largest cities possess multi-million dollar public transit systems, residents in rural Canada must rely on gasoline and diesel fuel to travel. Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax doesn’t recognize this rural reality.  It will leave less money in your wallet for you to spend on the things your family needs.

The carbon tax will also affect businesses.  Canada is a nation of exporters that relies on international markets to support our economy and a tax on carbon will compromise our competitiveness.  If farmers have to pay more for the fuel in their farm machinery to plant, maintain, harvest and transport their crops, they will have less of a profit margin. Farmers are price takers, not price makers. Their operations are also totally dependent on the use of fossil fuels.  As the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s Todd MacKay recently wrote, “a Toyota Prius can’t pull an air seeder.”

Grain companies will also have to pay less to farmers to offset their own increases in transportation costs. Not doing so would price them out of the increasingly competitive markets around the world that Canada has access to.  Why would countries in Europe or Asia pay more for Canadian canola, grain or pulses when they could pay less for the same export from America?  They won’t.

There are better ways to protect our environment and combat climate change.  I have yet to meet a person who does not want cleaner air, water and land, but we have to be intelligent about how we go about it.  Justin Trudeau’s Minister of the Environment is a fan of saying that the environment and the economy go hand-in-hand, but how I wish she believed it because then she would know that a carbon tax is not the best way forward.  A sector-by-sector approach that recognizes that each industry has different operational needs and different expertise in combatting climate change would be a better fit for the Canadian economy.  Also, more investment in conservation (because the Canadian environment actually absorbs more carbon dioxide than Canada produces) and investments in technology and innovation (to increase the efficiency of carbon capture technology in particular) would be a better way forward.

Our Conservative Party is not against the Liberal government’s targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Indeed the Liberals actually kept our previous government’s targets because they recognized that they are realistically achievable (while the NDP actually think that the Liberals have not gone far enough).  Where we differ is in how to get there and the bottom line is that our Conservative Opposition knows that we can do it without increasing your taxes.