What is really behind four province opposition to the federal carbon tax policy?
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]tel.net