The ice in Antarctica is melting much more quickly than we thought it was. Yet conservative governments across the country are wailing about carbon taxes. Paul Mason writes:
Everywhere you turn, politicians of a conservative bent are denouncing the climate-change measure as a pointless, economy-wrecking raid on people’s pocket books. United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney has made attacks on Alberta’s carbon tax the centerpiece of his pre-election strategy. Doug Ford just won power in Ontario after making his promise to dismantle the province’s cap-and-trade system a major component of his platform. Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, also a conservative, has vowed to fight the federal carbon tax in court.
In Ottawa, the Conservatives use political theatre to complain about carbon taxes:
They carried out a 12-hour filibuster to draw attention to the fact the federal government won’t release any analysis of how much its national carbon tax will cost Canadians. This, despite the fact there have been plenty of studies done that have provided an answer to that very question. Studies everyone has access to.
The federal Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources estimated the cost of a $50-a-tonne carbon tax based on 2013 energy consumption levels. Their findings ranged from $603 per household in B.C. to $707 in Ontario to $1,120 in Nova Scotia. But those evaluations don’t take into account measures provincial governments can introduce to mitigate the costs, such as direct rebates or the reduction of taxes in other areas. They can pay for those breaks with the revenue raised from the carbon tax.
And that's precisely the point. The provinces have the power to decide how the tax will bite -- and what can be done to offset that bite. When B.C. introduced its carbon tax, it cut income taxes.
The Liberal plan isn't perfect. But Canadian conservatives lack imagination. The fact is they've lacked imagination for a long time.