Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday October 6, 2018
Canada’s fight against climate change is at risk
With Manitoba’s reversal this week of its plan to impose a carbon tax, it’s clear the federal government’s overall climate plan is in jeopardy. But that’s only part of the story.
Why did Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister ditch years of work to join with other conservatives like Doug Ford and Jason Kenney? Winnipeg Free Press columnist Don Lett puts it this way:
‘When you boil it all down, you have this: a premier with a penchant for erratic behaviour who willingly trashes two years of hard work by his own government, with the full knowledge he cannot stop a carbon tax from being implemented and will get all the money anyway.’
In this, Pallister is in good company. Doug Ford killed a working, revenue-generating cap-and-trade plan. Jason Kenney is against a carbon tax even though prominent conservatives, Preston Manning being one, support it. Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe attacks carbon pricing at every opportunity. Ford and Moe are committed to fighting the tax in court, even though legal experts agree the federal government has the right to impose it. Ford is prepared to waste $30 million on an unwinnable fight.
All taxes are unpopular. And it’s always good optics for provincial premiers to be seen as fighting Ottawa.
But there’s method in this madness. The premiers know, almost certainly, they can’t win a legal fight. But by pulling out and blaming Ottawa, they get the optics they want. And, they get the revenue from that nasty tax, because the government has pledged that all carbon tax revenue collected will be returned to the provinces it was collected from. Brilliant?
Maybe not. This strategy doesn’t work nearly as well if the Trudeau government imposes the tax and sends the cheques, probably through Revenue Canada, directly back to Canadian citizens, effectively cutting out the provinces. Trudeau takes the bold but necessary step of fighting climate change, but returns a tangible benefit to Canadian taxpayers. Continued: Hamilton Spectator Editorial)