Don’t like the federal government’s massive new carbon tax that will cost the average middle-class family $2,600 a year by 2022? Blame Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall!
In a tortured piece of logic, the Regina Leader-Post’s long-time, anti-Wall columnist Murray Mandryk insisted Wall “paved the way” for Trudeau’s tax “by failing to offer an alternative.”
That makes about as much sense as me insisting Alberta Premier Rachel Notley paved the way for Trudeau’s massive new carbon tax by implementing her own massive carbon tax and making it appear as if even Canada’s oil heartland was finally behind the concept.
First of all, advocating for no new carbon tax IS an alternative.
Human contribution to global CO2 levels is no more than 6% of the total, and probably less than 5%. Most of the rest comes from oceans, soils and decaying plants and animals. And of humankind’s tiny contribution, Canada’s share is just 1.6% (and that includes the oilsands).
If the entire atmosphere – nitrogen, oxygen, water vapour and so on – were represented by 2,400 one-litre bottles of water, Canada’s CO2 contribution would be less then 1 ml in one bottle. So the amount of carbon dioxide the Liberals’ new tax might save – might save – would be a drop or less of that 1 ml.
Canada could beggar its entire economy; shut down every factory, close every oilsands plant, dismantle every pipeline and disable every car, truck, bus and plane and the effect on global CO2 levels would be imperceptible.
So, yes, not bringing in a new $2,600-a-year tax is a legitimate alternative, especially since the new tax is unlikely to have much impact on CO2 emissions, anyway. British Columbia brought in a seven-cent-a-litre carbon tax in 2008. It initially lowered gasoline consumption. But consumption had returned to pre-tax levels by 2014 and there is no sign B.C. emissions are down.
Even Premier Notley expressed opposition to Trudeau’s new cash grab when it was announced. Kind of. Sorta. In a tepid way.
The truth is Trudeau (whose chief advisor and close friend, Gerald Butts, is the former head of an environmental lobby) was going to go ahead with his new carbon “price” no matter what any of the provinces did. And the proof of that is in the carbon-price’s do-it-or-else nature. Provinces that don’t impose their own $10 a tonne price by 2018 (rising to $50 by 2022) will have one imposed on them by Ottawa.
But another truth in Trudeau’s surprise announcement on Monday is that few of the provinces will oppose it in the end, with the possible exception of Saskatchewan.
If the provinces impose their own carbon price, they get to keep the vast new billions this tax will raise. While many provinces expressed outrage at Trudeau’s out-of-the-blue proclamation, which came while provincial environment ministers were meeting to work out a new carbon price, in the end they will shut their mouths as Trudeau’s tax stuffs their pockets.
One last truth, the carbon price is a 21st Century National Energy Program. When it comes to Trudeaus, it’s like father, like son.
Oh, the carbon price isn’t like the NEP of the ‘80s. It’s not about robbing from energy provinces to fill Ottawa’s coffers.
But the effects of the carbon price will be felt disproportionately across the country. Oil- and coal-producing provinces are about to be whacked hard.
American states and foreign countries that Alberta and Saskatchewan are competing with for oil and gas investment will not have the same $50 a tonne handicap.
In practical terms, Trudeau’s tax will be felt far less in Ontario and Quebec; far, far more in Alberta and Saskatchewan where there aren’t a lot of Liberal votes anyway.