By: Graham Lane
Published: October 21, 2016 – Winnipeg Sun
Just like his father, Prime Minister Trudeau is going to unilaterally impose costly regulations
on Canada’s energy sector. What is the rational response to the new carbon tax? The rational
response for an individual is to start a green energy consulting company, take fat Liberal and
NDP contracts, and then leave the country. As Ontario is demonstrating, the only ones who
seem to benefit in the new “green economy” are the consulting industry.
What is the rational response from our provincial leaders? Premier Brad Wall of Saskatchewan
has shown the right approach – fight back. He is willing to take Ottawa to the Supreme Court
in order to defend provincial jobs. Where is our Premier Pallister: working to implement
Trudeau’s new tax to benefit his government’s deficit problem.
Manitoba will be hurt by a new carbon tax. Industries like agriculture, forestry, manufacturing
and mining will face significant cost increases. Manitoba’s businesses – other than its
monopoly Crown corporation s – operate in an international marketplace. When the cost of
producing canola, lumber or nickel is pushed up by the new carbon tax, our companies will be
at a significant competitive disadvantage to suppliers around the world who don’t face a
“price on carbon”. Many may be forced to leave or downsize.
There was significant concern this spring over all the job losses in Northern Manitoba. But
these losses could pale in comparison to the shutdowns that come when the carbon tax
reaches its target of $50 / tonne. And, would it stop at $50?
There was little or no response from our new provincial government when the Prime Minister
unilaterally announced his new carbon tax. No Minister from Manitoba came out to defend our
jobs. The response, or lack of response, is something that we would have expected from the
old NDP government. In fact even the response from Alberta’s NDP, weak as it was, was more
forceful than the silence from Broadway.
The lack of “fight” in Manitoba’s government stems from the fact that it is musing about its
own carbon tax. If they think that federal Liberals have now given them political license to
move forward, their attitude needs adjusting.
The PCs have promised to reverse the provincial sales tax increase imposed by the NDP.
Though the promise applies only to the jump of 1%, not the earlier extension of the tax to
services. This will do us no good if a decrease in the sales tax grab is simply offset by a new
carbon tax. Manitobans are bright people and can recognize a shell game when they see it.
No one will argue that polluters should not pay for their pollution. No one will argue that we
must care for our air, water and land. But the new carbon tax won’t accomplish any of these
goals. It is just another tax.
There is still time for Pallister to do the right thing. Manitoba needs a sensible approach to
environmental policies, one that does not put our economy at risk. We need tax policies that
make Manitoba a more attractive place to invest, not drive industries elsewhere.
We need our Premier to stand up for us when the federal government tries to impose
ideological programs that will cost us jobs.
Graham Lane leads Manitoba Forward (manitobaforward.ca).
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