Church at centre of tax furor is ‘happy’ to pay carbon levy
A Medicine Hat church that was thrust into the political spotlight when a UCP candidate wrongly claimed it faced a $50,000 carbon tax bill will happily pay its tab of about one-tenth that size, says the lead pastor.“For us the carbon tax is not a political issue,” said Hillcrest Evangelical Missionary Church pastor Steve Pahl in a statement. “We are more than happy to pay our bills, whatever they are and need to be.“Many people in our congregation are concerned about environmental issues.”UCP candidate for Brooks-Medicine Hat Michaela Glasgo caused waves on social media Sunday when she tweeted that the church was facing a massive $50,000 carbon tax bill for 2019.She later retracted the statement and clarified the cost would actually be around $5,400.But the astounding $50,000 figure was retweeted by UCP Leader Jason Kenney, who added the note “we hear stories like this all the time, sadly.”The NDP slammed the Opposition for the error and resulting misinformation, calling it a “Trump-esque political strategy.”The UCP has repeatedly blasted the carbon tax, arguing that it hurts workers and families.Kenney has promised to repeal the tax if his party wins the next election.The NDP said Kenney’s retweet was part of a pattern of pushing misinformation to stir anger.“All candidates for public office and their leaders have a responsibility to check the facts and think critically before sharing information on social media,” said Matt Dykstra, spokesman for Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips, in a statement. “It’s more than disappointing.”UCP spokesperson Christine Myatt said Kenney had no reason to doubt the veracity of Glasgo’s tweet.“Ms. Glasgo tweeted the information related to what the NDP carbon tax is costing her local church in good faith and, upon learning that she was mistaken, issued a correction. Mr. Kenney retweeted Ms. Glasgo in good faith, and has also shared her subsequent updates,” Myatt said in a statement.Glasgo said she tweeted about the bill after an appeal was made to her church’s congregation during Sunday’s service. She criticized the carbon tax for costing the church too much.“Today at church we learned that the carbon tax is going to cost our church $50,000 this year ALONE,” she tweeted Sunday.“That’s the cost of one less pastor for the sick and suffering & less help for those who need it most in our community.”But critics were swift to question whether that number was accurate.The province estimates that a $50,000 price tag would be equivalent to the carbon tax for more than 100 households combined. A typical four-person household uses 135 gigajoules of natural gas and 4,500 litres of gasoline per year.That would amount to a total carbon tax of $508 annually before any rebates.In a Facebook post Monday morning, Glasgo doubled down on her claim. She said the $50,000 price tag included a number of facilities along with the main chamber.“But as an institution, it is still referred to as ‘the church,’” she wrote. “And yes, it is being adversely affected by the NDP’s carbon tax.”About two hours after that post, Glasgo said she received clarification from her church. She said she had confused the carbon tax bill with the organization’s total increasing operational costs for 2019.“I reported the initial figure in good faith and did not intend to mislead,” she said.She added that the $5,400 price tag is still a sizable sum and it shouldn’t be downplayed.“I fully stand by my criticism of the NDP’s carbon tax.”For us the carbon tax is not a political issue. We are more than happy to pay our bills, whatever they are and need to be.
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