“The lack of ‘fight’ in the Pallister government stems from the fact that it is musing about its own carbon tax.”

By Graham Lane


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            Just like his father, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is going to unilaterally impose costly regulations on Canada’s energy sector. What is the rational response to the new carbon tax? For an individual, it is to start a green energy consulting company, take fat Liberal and NDP contracts and then leave the country. As Ontario is demonstrating, the only ones who seem to benefit in the new “green economy” are industry consultants.

            What is the rational response from our provincial leaders? Premier Brad Wall of Saskatchewan has shown the right approach—fight back. He is willing to take Ottawa to the Supreme Court in order to defend provincial jobs. Where is our Premier Pallister: working to implement Trudeau’s new tax to benefit his government’s deficit problem.

            Manitoba will be hurt by a new carbon tax. Industries like agriculture, forestry, manufacturing and mining will face significant cost increases. Manitoba’s businesses—other than its monopoly Crown corporations—operate in an international marketplace. When the cost of producing canola, lumber or nickel is pushed up by the new carbon tax, our companies will be at a significant competitive disadvantage to suppliers around the world who don’t face a “price on carbon.” Many may be forced to leave or downsize.

            There was significant concern this spring over all the job losses in Northern Manitoba. But these losses could pale in comparison to the shutdowns that come when the carbon tax reaches its target of $50 per tonne. And, would it stop at $50?

            There was little or no response from our new provincial government when the prime minister unilaterally announced his new carbon tax. No minister from Manitoba came out to defend our jobs. The response, or lack of response, is something that we would have expected from the old NDP government. In fact, even the response from Alberta’s NDP, weak as it was, was more forceful than the silence from Broadway.

            The lack of “fight” in the Pallister government stems from the fact that it is musing about its own carbon tax. If they think that federal Liberals have now given them political license to move forward, their attitude needs adjusting.

            The PCs have promised to reverse the provincial sales tax increase imposed by the NDP. Though the promise applies only to the jump of one per cent, not the earlier extension of the tax to services. This will do us no good if a decrease in the sales tax grab is simply offset by a new carbon tax. Manitobans are bright people and can recognize a shell game when they see it. No one will argue that polluters should not pay for their pollution. No one will argue that we must care for our air, water and land. But the new carbon tax won’t accomplish any of these goals. It is just another tax.

Graham Lane leads Manitoba Forward. A retired chartered accountant, he served for eight years as the chair of the Manitoba Public Utilities Board. Read more at ManitobaForward.ca. 

Published in PIPELINE OBSERVER - FALL 2016

Pipeline Observer


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