By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on April 3, 2020.
Now is not the time to hit citizens with
a carbon tax increase
Wednesday was April Fools’ Day, but the prime minister’s carbon tax increase failed to cause laughter among Canadians.
Individuals in every part of our country are facing a massive health and economic crisis. Due to COVID-19, 1.6 million people have been laid off work, stores and restaurants have been told to close their doors, and entire industries are suffering. Now is not the time for a tax hike.
Over the past two weeks, my staff and I have heard from hundreds of constituents who are devastated by the new reality that plagues us. They’re finding it difficult to afford groceries and many weren’t able to pay rent when it came due this week.
When questioned by media as to why he would move forward with the carbon tax increase while Canadians are struggling, Trudeau has continuously buckled down and defended it as something that “fights climate change” and “puts more money in the pockets of Canadians.” So, how true are these claims?
Dan McTeague, a former Liberal MP and the current president of Canadians for Affordable Energy, offers some helpful calculations. This year, Canadian families will pay an average of $136 more for natural gas, $107 more for propane, an extra seven cents per litre for gasoline and 8.5 cents per litre for diesel.
After the tax is applied to the transportation of goods, you can count on paying more for groceries, clothing, household goods and basically every other item you might purchase.
At a time when Canadians are unable to pay their mortgage or utility bills and are worried about being able fill their cupboards with food in the months to come, how does this make sense?
Farmers – those who keep us fed and who, in Alberta, stand as our best hope for strengthening our economy – are particularly hard hit. They stand to lose 12 per cent of their net income due to the carbon tax increase. That’s absurd.
Why is Trudeau punishing those who care for the environment by sequestering carbon through crop growth and by investing in advancements in science and technology? If the carbon tax really is about taking care of the environment shouldn’t farmers be rewarded rather than punished?
It’s clear the carbon tax is nothing more than a tax on everything and the hike is simply an act of selfishness.
With one hand, the federal government is offering to help by handing out billions of dollars in assistance. With the other hand, the government is taking this aid away.
At a time when the economy is floundering and the wellbeing of Canadians is at stake, the government must put ideology aside and do what’s practical. This means putting a stop to the carbon tax increase. Now is not the time to add to household expenses.
Most economists would agree that it’s illogical to apply additional tax in the middle of an economic crisis, so why is Trudeau doing it?
In short, he needs money.
No one could have predicted COVID-19 or foreseen the economic impact it would have on Canada, but the economic downturn at our doorstep is not solely the result of the pandemic. We were headed down this path well before the virus started spreading.
For the last year, economists have been saying the global economy was fragile and due for a dip. The government should have been better prepared.
The fact that Canada’s economic growth in the last quarter was the worst in four years (before the rail blockades, drop in oil prices and the threat of COVID-19), and yet the Liberals continued to spend significant amounts of money, warrants concern.
In his election platform, the prime minister promised to balance the budget, but instead, well before the COVID-19 pandemic, the government had incurred a $26.6-billion deficit.
During a recent press conference, Trudeau stated that “Canada has taken responsible decisions over past many years to have one of the best balance sheets in the G7. We have been making sure that we have money aside for a rainy day.”
By “responsible decisions,” is the prime minister referring to the $50 million he gave to MasterCard, the $12 million he gave to Loblaws for new fridges, or the $250,000 he used to pay for his family’s vacation in the Bahamas?
Regardless, the point is this: Canadians are in desperate need of hope.
The government must act swiftly to apply responsible fiscal policies that will facilitate the economic prosperity of Canadians. A tax hike doesn’t do the trick. In fact, it can reasonably be called a punishment.
No matter your party colours, we can all agree the wellbeing of Canadians is at stake and the government needs to put people before ideology. During this time of uncertainty and turmoil, the government should focus on facilitating the prosperity of Canadians, not hindering them. A crisis is no time for a tax hike.
Please join me in asking the Liberals to reverse the April 1 carbon tax increase by contacting the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson: Jonathan.Wilkinson@parl.gc.ca or 613-995-1225.
Rachael Harder is the Conservative MP for Lethbridge. Her column appears monthly.