TORIES PUSH FOR CARBON COSTING
Accuse Liberals of hiding cost for families
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 jurisdictions 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 Calgary economist Jennifer Winter calculated last year that the household cost would range from $603 in B.C. to $1,120 in Nova Scotia.
IF NOT, IT’S GOING TO BE A VERY LONG 25 HOURS.