Are you upset about the carbon tax?

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Sabrina Almeida

Many Ontarians I spoke with are outraged and their anger is reinforced every time they fill up at the pumps. The federal carbon tax which tagged 4.4 cents to every litre kicked into place this month spiking rates to around $1.20. The temporary reprieve from abolishing the cap-and-trade (around 4.3 cents per litre) which came around the holiday season was short lived. With another hike of around 15 cents expected as a result of changing global oil prices and the shift from winter to summer gas, the upcoming driving season is likely to take a toll on our wallets. And Trudeau’s popularity too—the opposition will see to it.

The Conservatives, both at the provincial and federal levels, are trying to get as much mileage as they can from this. Between Scheer’s targeted texts to Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick to fill up before gas prices spiked and Premier Ford’s anti-carbon tax stickers at gas stations—we will constantly be reminded how unaffordable the levy has made our lives. That the SNC-Lavalin controversy took the heat off the carbon tax is a misnomer with most middle-class Canadians caring more about any financial rather than moral impact.

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Trudeau’s Liberals are crying foul. After all, they are tasked with reducing carbon emissions!!! According to federal government predictions, Canada is further away from meeting its reduction targets under the Paris agreement (cutting emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030) than it was a year ago. In a media report released at that time, the feds attributed the bulk of that shortfall (30 mega tonnes) to the Ford government’s cancellation of Ontario’s cap-and-trade program.

The recently published Canada’s Changing Climate Report (great timing) highlights the dire situation we are already facing. It warns us that our country is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world with Northern Canada heating up nearly three times the global rate. The authors also say that three of the past five years have been the warmest on record. Unfortunately, this was not even a small blip on the radar of most Canadians who probably didn’t even see the report let alone be disturbed by it.

The federal government is also upset that the carbon tax rebate the four provinces including Ontario will receive has been omitted from tax credit booklets being distributed by Conservative MPs in their ridings.

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What is the point of carbon tax and why the hullabaloo about it? Simply explained, the tax puts a price on greenhouse gas emissions. The goal being to motivate emitters, typically fuel producers and suppliers, to switch to less harmful practices. Good thing, right? It also hopes that consumers will do their part by changing behaviour and making more responsible purchasing decisions–like opting for electric vehicles and using less or alternative energy sources (such as solar panels) to power their homes. Research shows that Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and several US states like California have benefited significantly from the initiative to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

Without a provincial program (like the cap-and-trade) in place the federal one kicked in.

Higher gas prices affect all consumer goods. So, the carbon tax will also have an impact on food and other retail goods transported by diesel-burning vehicles. Naturally manufacturers and businesses have joined the Conservatives in voicing their displeasure. They will pass on the extra cost to retailers and consequently to consumers who will be hit at the pumps, energy bills and grocery stores. However, politicians like Scheer who are opposing the move have failed to come up with a more cost-effective alternative to reducing emissions, if at all.

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For its part, the provincial Ford government had planned to create The Ontario Carbon Trust rather than put a carbon tax on emitters. It would use public funds to encourage manufacturers and farmers to go green which it claims is a more affordable way both for businesses and consumers. A “reverse auction” would also encourage businesses to bid on government contracts awarded based on the lowest cost per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions.

It appears that Ontarians have been caught in the crosshairs of the provincial and federal government. We didn’t like the Liberal’s cap-and-trade but were coming to terms with it. Mind you many homeowners were equally miffed when Ford did away with rebates for window replacement along with the cap-and-trade.

In the end we care less about the environment and the air we breathe, than we do our pockets which Ford promised to put money back in. Not good, right!!! -CINEWS

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