The outcome of this year’s provincial election is worrying when the apparent campaign front-runner is basing his pitch on a bizarre distortion of the truth.
Doug Ford says he will abolish the “carbon tax” although we don’t actually have one. In an ideological twist, the Ontario Liberals enacted a market-driven cap and trade system while the suddenly-gone Conservative leader had pledged to introduce an actual carbon tax. I tend to think this now-abandoned policy led to Patrick Brown’s swift and abrupt political demise. The Conservative party has invested years promoting a narrative that all government spending is wasteful and all taxes are evil. Brown’s platform was an abomination to those that bankroll the party. Here’s how they put it: “Ontario’s expensive cap and trade carbon tax … makes life harder for Ontario families and our economy more uncompetitive … We will put money back in the pockets of Ontario taxpayers and stand up for our job creators.” (Simon Jeffries, Conservative spokesperson, April 16)
Cap and Trade is designed to internalize the cost of carbon into the cost of production instead of pushing it, by default, onto the public. It’s not a tax since manufacturers can reduce, or avoid, the fee by adopting cleaner, carbon-free methods of production. Their choice. The most efficient businesses become the most competitive. Under cap-and-trade carbon emissions in Ontario are projected to decline by 8 to 10 megatonnes by 2020.
In the end, some form of carbon pricing is coming. The federal policy mandates it by the end of this year. Ford says he will fight it – abolish the existing cap and trade, and fight any alternative federal carbon tax. So, how many millions of public money is he willing to flush away on government lawyers and court fights?
Cap and Trade generated $1.9 billion in revenue in 2017 ($2.4 billion to date). Here’s what’s at stake:
- $377 million allocated to fund energy conservation for households and small –businesses
- $657 million allocated over 5 years for improvements to social housing apartment buildings
- $100 million to support municipal energy efficiency and renewable energy
- $25 million allocated for a Low Carbon Innovation Fund to commercialize new technologies
- $8 million allocated for an electric school bus pilot program
So what is the possible Conservative alternative under Doug Ford? We don’t know. Are Conservatives giving up almost $2 billion in provincial revenue and dumping the associated conservation initiatives? Does Ford think corporations will take remedial carbon reduction action voluntarily? Will we have a Catastrophic Weather Recovery Fund* instead? If he’s promising “relief is coming” for the ‘little guy’ (but he’d lower only corporate taxes and block the minimum wage increase), will he attack the “Sunshine” List” payrolls or follow the usual route of slashing all government payroll and programs? Is he proud that Ontario is one of the highest per capita carbon emitting jurisdictions? If not, what’s the plan?
Can Ontario afford to elect someone who wants to ‘cap’ the truth and hide from the consequences?
* Check out: Climate Scientists Warn Tipping Point Is Near