Polluting Canada will not be free, as the federal Liberal government has decided to take an initiative to fight the climate change. From next spring, it will be slapping a price on pollution in provinces and territories that have failed to plan to curb climate pollution. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that four out of 10 Canadian provinces, which do not have their own adequate emissions pricing plans, will have to deal with a federal carbon tax, that is, Canadian dollar 20 per tonne.
The four provinces that will be subject to the levy as of January 1, 2019, include Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick. By 2020, the carbon tax is expected to rise to Canadian dollar 50.
However, the carbon-tax rebate plan is expected to launch a political messaging war between the Conservatives and the Liberals, who will be seen battling over the money that will soon start flowing on tax returns. While it will be a long-overdue climate policy for the Liberals, for the Conservatives it might be painted as an opportunistic ploy to buy votes and cover up a tax hike.
In his speech at a Toronto college, Trudeau said, “Starting next year, it will no longer be free to pollute anywhere in Canada. We are going to place a price on the pollution that causes climate change.”
Besides, to “help Canadians adjust to this new reality,” the Prime Minister has also planned to make his new venture revenue-neutral. He informed that all proceeds from the tax, which is to be collected from individuals and industry, will be remitted to households in form of rebates, or will be used to pay for projects to improve energy efficiency and cut CO2 emissions.
Liberal government officials highlighted that their models reveal that the 70 per cent of Canadians affected by the federal carbon tax will be getting back more in rebates than they pay in added costs.
Trudeau also gave a reference of a UN report in his speech. The report had warned that time is running out to forestall disaster. He said, “We are the first generation that has known how to fix this problem. But we are the last generation that will actually be able to do something about it.”
While this carbon-tax rebate plan of the Canadian Prime Minister was commended by the environmental activists, it has been panned by the Conservatives and their provincial brethren, who regarded it as “an election gimmick” and a trick to win the confidence of the voters.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said outside the House of Commons, “Today Justin Trudeau unveiled his election gimmick to try to trick Canadians into paying higher taxes on basic necessities.”
“Canadians have known all along that Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax was just a tax plan dressed up as an emissions plan. Now we know it’s really also just an election gimmick,” he added.
In a statement, Ontario Premier Doug Ford also said, “Never believe a politician who tells you he will save you money by hiking your taxes.
The people of Canada are too smart to believe that Trudeau’s phony rebates are anything more than a temporary vote-buying scheme that will be discarded once the election is over. In contrast, the carbon tax rip-off is forever.”
Moreover, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe also expressed himself at a news conference in Regina, saying that the money should remain with the residents in the first place. He said, “We see it as a cynical vote-buying scheme using your money to buy your vote.”
The top aide to Trudeau, Gerald Butts reacted to some of the criticism via Twitter, saying that it was a specific election promise from Trudeau. He also pointed out that the provincial governments have had plenty of time to come up with their own solutions.
Butts wrote, “When the Conservative Premiers bailed on the Climate Plan, the only real option to fulfill that promise (now federal law) was to return the money to the people.”
While the Prime Minister promised that “every nickel” collected as part of the federal carbon tax will be returned in the province it was collected, the Conservatives are considering it as a mere trick to buy votes. On the other hand, Trudeau said that ““unfortunately, the conservative movement in this country is determined not to act on the environment.”
Is it really an election gimmick by Justin Trudeau, or the Conservatives are using the sincere efforts of the Prime Minister for their own benefits? Well, it is yet to be unveiled!