North dis­ad­van­taged by cap and trade plan

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - OPINION - — Derek Gordanier Post­media Net­work

Pity the lot of ru­ral and North­ern On­tar­i­ans. The ev­ery­day re­al­i­ties they face dif­fer dras­ti­cally from those faced by their south­ern ur­ban coun­ter­parts, yet the poli­cies of the prov­ince’s gov­ern­ing party — elected largely by met­ro­pol­i­tan ar­eas — con­sis­tently ap­peases its power base as op­posed to be­ing bal­anced and in­clu­sive of the needs of all On­tario res­i­dents.

Look no fur­ther for ev­i­dence than the “cli­mate change strat­egy” of the provin­cial Lib­er­als and their new price on car­bon. The cap-and-trade pro­gram will lean dis­pro­por­tion­ately on North­ern and ru­ral res­i­dents to sat­isfy the stated goal of re­duc­ing car­bon emis­sions, be­cause the con­se­quences of broadly in­creas­ing the costs of es­sen­tials will com­pound for those who al­ready pay more by virtue of where they live.

In al­most ev­ery in­stance, the cap-and-trade pro­gram ini­ti­ated on Jan. 1 ex­ces­sively bur­dens small-town and ru­ral On­tar­i­ans when com­pared to their ur­ban cousins. Con­sider:

• The cost of nat­u­ral gas, heat­ing oil, and propane will all rise dis­pro­por­tion­ately for ru­ral con­sumers due to far-flung de­liv­ery mod­els in which the cus­tomer will ab­sorb not only the in­creased price but also the providers’ new over­head costs for both prod­uct and de­liv­ery.

• The ad­di­tional per-litre cost for fuel is less oner­ous in large cities where tran­sit is a vi­able op­tion. For those in the coun­try who work in a city, the cost of com­mut­ing just jumped, and of­ten across mul­ti­ple house­hold ve­hi­cles.

• Food and mer­chan­dise costs will rise higher in ru­ral ar­eas as — again — the added costs as­so­ci­ated with pric­ing car­bon will be passed on by man­u­fac­tur­ers and re­tail­ers at source, with greater fuel costs to de­liver to ru­ral On­tario house­holds plump­ing price tags even fur­ther.

These new monthly obli­ga­tions come on top of ex­ist­ing higher costs in ru­ral On­tario for hy­dro con­sump­tion and de­liv­ery.

The gov­ern­ment says the rev­enues gen­er­ated through pric­ing car­bon will get fun­nelled back into “green projects that fight cli­mate change,” such as tran­sit, elec­tric ve­hi­cle in­cen­tives and hous­ing retrofits. Ar­guably the retro­fit sub­si­dies could ben­e­fit North­ern and ru­ral On­tario — the pro­gram is open to home­own­ers who use nat­u­ral gas, propane, oil or wood as their pri­mary source of heat­ing — but then only if fam­i­lies strug­gling to pay es­ca­lat­ing house­hold ex­penses can scratch to­gether cash enough to con­tribute their part to such projects.

Also con­cern­ing is that while cap-and-trade rev­enues will be di­rected to cli­mate change ini­tia­tives, the $8.3 bil­lion in green projects the gov­ern­ment al­ready boasts it has on tap over five years could well out­strip the money that comes in as On­tar­i­ans re­duce con­sump­tion out of fi­nan­cial ne­ces­sity. On­tar­i­ans can ex­pect deeper debt and deficits and higher taxes to cover the re­main­der, as has been the un­in­tended con­se­quence of many gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tives fore­cast as “rev­enue neu­tral.”

The un­fair im­pacts of the cap-and-trade pro­gram on north­ern and ru­ral on­tario is fur­ther ev­i­dence the cur­rent gov­ern­ment values pan­der­ing to ur­ban sup­port­ers above the con­cept of con­sci­en­tious, rep­re­sen­ta­tive, bal­anced gov­er­nance that mit­i­gates out­comes and shares bur­dens among res­i­dents more equally.

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