Ac­cuse Lib­er­als of hid­ing cost for fam­i­lies

The London Free Press - - NP - Maura For­rest in Ot­tawa

A move by the Con­ser­va­tives to force the House of Commons to sit through the night as pun­ish­ment for the gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to say how much its car­bon tax plan will cost Cana­di­ans is rais­ing ques­tions about how much the Lib­er­als ac­tu­ally know about the house­hold costs of car­bon pric­ing. On Thurs­day, a spokesper­son for En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Cather­ine McKenna told the Na­tional Post the Lib­er­als have not done a house­hold im­pact anal­y­sis for the prov­inces, given that it’s still un­clear how each ju­ris­dic­tion will choose to price car­bon. In April, the Lib­er­als re­leased a re­port es­ti­mat­ing that a na­tional car­bon price could cut emis­sions by 80 to 90 mil­lion tonnes in 2022 with­out a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on GDP, but the doc­u­ment doesn’t say how much house­holds stand to be af­fected. “It’s up to prov­inces to de­ter­mine what they’re go­ing to do, what their plan is and what they’re go­ing to do with the rev­enues,” McKenna said Thurs­day. “There’s very dif­fer­ent mod­els but, un­til you have sys­tems, you can’t do anal­y­sis.” Con­ser­va­tive fi­nance critic Pierre Poilievre tabled a mo­tion on Thurs­day de­mand­ing that the Lib­er­als of­fer up all doc­u­ments cal­cu­lat­ing the cost of the fed­eral car­bon pric­ing plan by June 22. The Tories in­sisted that if the gov­ern­ment de­feated their mo­tion, they would trig­ger a vot­ing marathon that would force the House of Commons to sit through the night. “They have to re­lease ev­ery­thing, ev­ery doc­u­ment they have since the last elec­tion that cal­cu­lates the cost of the car­bon tax,” Poilievre said.


“That’s our de­mand. If not, it’s go­ing to be a very long 25 hours.” Poilievre’s mo­tion is based in part on a gov­ern­ment memo he ob­tained us­ing ac­cess-to-in­for­ma­tion laws, which shows the Fi­nance de­part­ment has an­a­lyzed the eco­nomic im­pacts of car­bon pric­ing. The de­part­ment’s find­ings were redacted. “Im­pos­ing a price on car­bon emis­sions, ei­ther through a tax or a cap-and­trade sys­tem, would raise the cost of fos­sil fu­els and en­ergy,” the doc­u­ment reads. “Th­ese higher costs would then cas­cade through the econ­omy in the form of higher prices, thus lead­ing all firms and con­sumers to pay more for goods and ser­vices with higher car­bon con­tent.” Poilievre says the doc­u­ments show the Lib­er­als know more than they are re­veal­ing about the cost of their car­bon tax plan. Still, the memo is dated Oct. 20, 2015, just one day after the Lib­er­als were elected. “It was pro­duced and writ­ten be­fore we were sworn in as a gov­ern­ment,” Lib­eral MP Adam Vaughan said in the Commons on Thurs­day. Poilievre said the Fi­nance de­part­ment would have cho­sen to carry out the anal­y­sis based on the Lib­er­als’ cam­paign prom­ise to bring in car­bon pric­ing. But the de­tails of the gov­ern­ment’s car­bon tax plan were only made pub­lic in May 2017, and it’s un­clear what analy­ses have been done since then. As cur­rently planned, the fed­eral tax would go into ef­fect at $20 per tonne in Jan­uary 2019, ris­ing to $50 per tonne in 2022. The tax would only be ap­plied to those ju­ris- dic­tions that don’t im­ple­ment their own car­bon tax or cap-and-trade scheme. McKenna says all rev­enue from the fed­eral car­bon tax will be re­turned to the prov­inces. Some cost es­ti­mates are avail­able, how­ever. The gov­ern­ment has cal­cu­lated that a $50-per-tonne car­bon tax will add about 11 cents per litre of gaso­line. Ot­tawa has also pro­vided cost analy­ses to the three ter­ri­to­ries as part of a com­mit­ment McKenna made to study the im­pacts of car­bon pric­ing in north­ern Canada. In the Yukon, a gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial told lo­cal re­porters the cost is ex­pected to rise to an av­er­age of $760 per house­hold in 2022, though the ter­ri­to­rial gov­ern­ment has promised to re­bate the money to res­i­dents. And a doc­u­ment first ob­tained through an ac­cess-toin­for­ma­tion re­quest by the on­line news web­site Black­lock’s Re­porter, dated April 2017, es­ti­mates that to­tal rev­enue from the fed­eral car­bon tax would equal nearly $3 bil­lion in 2022, if it were ap­plied to all six prov­inces that don’t yet have their own. Uni­ver­sity of Cal­gar y econ­o­mist Jen­nifer Win­ter cal­cu­lated last year that the house­hold cost would range from $603 in B.C. to $1,120 in Nova Sco­tia.

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