What is re­ally be­hind four province op­po­si­tion to the fed­eral car­bon tax pol­icy?

Moose Jaw - - News - By Ron Wal­ter For Moose Jaw Ex­press

Both sides have drawn a line in the sand on the car­bon tax is­sue de­bate.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe stands on one side vow­ing to fight this tax to the bit­ter end in the Supreme Court and in the court of pub­lic opin­ion in the next pro­vin­cial election.

On the other side of this line in the sand, Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau vows to levy a car­bon tax on the four prov­inces re­fus­ing to set their own tax or use a cap and trade sys­tem.

The Trudeau tax of­fers fam­i­lies a re­bate of car­bon taxes based on their use. In Saskatchewan the av­er­age re­bate is es­ti­mated at $596 a fam­ily, less than the $403 av­er­age amount the tax will cost a fam­ily. Premier Moe de­scribes the re­bate as a vote-buy­ing gim­mick. Moe had the op­por­tu­nity to levy his own car­bon tax and dis­trib­ute the money as he sees fit. He could have given his po­lit­i­cal base — farmers — a bet­ter break than Trudeau of­fers. He could have cut cor­po­rate taxes to make busi­ness more com­pet­i­tive or as­sisted the oil in­dus­try that Moe and his MLAs say will be­come so un­com­pet­i­tive.

The Saskatchewan premier chose not to dish out funds from his own car­bon tax. Why? Pol­i­tics ex­plains one rea­son for op­pos­ing the tax in­stead of ne­go­ti­at­ing car­bon tax cred­its for good farm­ing prac­tices or ne­go­ti­at­ing credit for SaskPower’s car­bon cap­ture tech­nol­ogy.

Ever since Con­fed­er­a­tion in 1867 pro­vin­cial premiers have found tilt­ing swords at the Ot­tawa bo­gey­man re­ward­ing at election time. Scott Moe is no ex­cep­tion.

The Saskatchewan Party has taken credit for the in­creased pop­u­la­tion and growth un­der its government. The party won’t want to take credit for the cur­rent econ­omy headed for the crap­per, or for signs that Saskatchewan res­i­dents are re­sum­ing the old trend to move to Al­berta for work.

Fight­ing an election on the car­bon tax dis­tracts vot­ers from the real is­sues and boxes the car­bon tax sup­port­ing NDP in a cor­ner. At least that is the con­ven­tional thought among some ob­servers. Per­haps the real rea­son for Moe’s bat­tling the car­bon tax runs deeper with philo­soph­i­cal dif­fer­ences. Right wing politi­cians and sup­port­ers be­lieve any money made by an in­di­vid­ual should stay with that per­son/cor­po­ra­tion — mi­nus the least pos­si­ble amount of taxes.

Cen­tre/left politi­cians and sup­port­ers are more com­pas­sion­ate, be­liev­ing ev­ery­one should pay their “fair share” of taxes, what­ever that means. They be­lieve in us­ing tax money to prop up key in­dus­tries and to help those with lower in­comes.

The cen­tre/left be­lieves in reg­u­la­tions to pre­vent un­ac­cept­able ex­cesses. The right wingers dis­trust government and reg­u­la­tions that in­hibit their per­sonal progress.

The car­bon tax will have the ef­fect of re­dis­tribut­ing in­come from large pol­luters and high-in­come in­di­vid­u­als to less wealthy res­i­dents. Re­dis­tribut­ing in­come from the earn­ers to lower in­come fam­i­lies is a no-no in right wing pol­icy. To just op­pose re­dis­tribut­ing in­come would make Moe and his team ap­pear cold and cal­lous; thus, their op­po­si­tion to car­bon tax masked by a court bat­tle. From the nu­mer­ous analy­ses Yours Truly has seen, the pro­vin­cial court cases against this tax are un­likely to suc­ceed — leav­ing four premiers with egg on their faces and the op­tion of us­ing the not­with­stand­ing clause in the con­sti­tu­tion.

Use of the not­with­stand­ing clause can last only five years and would threaten to break up Canada.

Ron Wal­ter can be reached at ron­[email protected]­

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