The News (New Glasgow)

Ottawa driving up costs

- TIM HOUSTON GUEST COMMENTARY Tim Houston is the premier of Nova Scotia and MLA for Pictou East.

Our climate is changing. Government has a responsibi­lity to take steps to preserve our planet for future generation­s. But I don't believe in the federal Liberal carbon tax as the best way to accomplish our goals of reducing emissions and increasing renewable energy.

The Liberals would have you believe that if you don't support their carbon tax, you must not believe in climate change. That's ridiculous.

And it's hogwash that you will pay for. On July 1, the Liberal carbon tax increased the price you pay for gas, diesel and home heating fuel. That means that the cost of transporti­ng every single product you buy, to the store you buy it from, is going up. The price you pay at the cash register for each of those products is going up.

It didn't have to be this way. We tried to reason with the Liberals and show that our plan was a path to reducing emissions and exceeding renewable targets. It was and is a plan that actually does more for the environmen­t. But, because it didn't include a “carbon tax,” the Liberals said no. The Liberals are fixated on their carbon tax and won't hear tell of anything else.

Nova Scotia is a proven leader in stepping up to protect the planet. We have the second-highest reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the country. We have done this without a carbon tax and we will continue to do more.

Instead of listening to our madein-Nova Scotia solution, Justin Trudeau's Liberal government is imposing their punishing carbon tax that will hurt Nova Scotians at the pump and beyond.

Rather than work with us to focus on the most beneficial path for the environmen­t, that would mean a more self-reliant (and cheaper) path for Nova Scotia, the Liberals are saying no simply because our plan doesn't include a carbon tax.

At the same time that they are pushing this devastatin­g tax on Nova Scotians, the Liberals are willing to risk devastatin­g Nova Scotia with their outrageous Atlantic Loop position.

At the right price, the loop could be good for Nova Scotia. The Liberals are spinning that they're “committing $4 billion to the project” but they are leaving out some key details.

First, the entirety of their “over $4 billion” has to be paid back by Nova Scotia ratepayers (you). It's worth noting that this didn't happen in Newfoundla­nd, where, facing similar challenges, the federal government stepped in with over $5 billion, most of it not repayable.

Nova Scotia Power has done the math, and paying back this loan to Ottawa would drive power rates up from their current rate of $0.16 per kWh to somewhere between $0.27-$0.31. Imagine the federal government telling Nova Scotians that they are OK with our power rates nearly doubling. Imagine what this would do to your monthly household budget. Imagine trying to convince companies and businesses to set up here.

Now imagine if this project is like many other projects happening right now, where the actual costs are much higher than the estimate. What happens then? The cost has already grown from $2.9 billion in 2020 to more than $7.5 billion today. Under the current proposal, power rates could double. If the costs continue to rise, those costs would be on ratepayers. We can't sign a deal that puts you on the hook. I'm not willing to risk it.

We will not give up and continue to hope that reason will prevail on both the Liberal carbon tax and the loop. But rest assured that anything we propose is and will be designed to protect Nova Scotians.

I won't stand by as the federal government pushes unnecessar­y taxes and higher power rates on Nova Scotians. I certainly hope that rather than defending the tax and pushing for higher costs of living, Liberal Nova Scotia MPs are saying “no” to the prime minister.

We ask Nova Scotians to join our voice to lower the cost of living by speaking to your MP and sending a message to the Government of Canada.

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