4 Nov 2016

Lethbridge Herald

Rachael Harder

Canada was just ranked the top destination of the year by Lonely Planet’s 2017 travel guide. This ranking is based on Canada’s diversity. From the majestic beauty of the Niagara Falls, to the still beauty of Banff and Churchill, the old European architecture of Quebec City and Montreal, to the quaint fishermen’s community of Peggy’s Cove; Canada offers vibrancy, innovation and a warm welcome to all who visit.

Canada’s natural landscape and vast greenspace make our country unique. I am proud to be able to represent this beautiful nation. In order to maintain Canada’s beauty, however, we must be respectful towards the landscape we have. To preserve the elegance of Canada, maintenance of national parks and national historic sites is necessary.

Under our former Conservative government, we established climate targets for Canada. These targets would help us to preserve Canada’s natural beauty. Ironically, they were consistently attacked by the Liberals who have since adopted these same climate target goals. However, the Liberals have added something on top of them: a carbon tax.

A carbon tax places a price on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated from burning fuel. It puts a price on each tonne of GHG emitted and is then taxed accordingly. Prime Minister Trudeau recently announced that the Liberal government would impose a “floor price” of $10 per tonne in 2018, rising to $50 a tonne by 2022.

The purpose of taxing these emissions is to increase the cost of using fossil fuels to encourage businesses and families to switch to alternative energy sources. This works better in theory than in reality. Imposing a carbon tax does not put a limit on the amount of emissions that can be released. A manufacturing company can continue releasing the same amount of emissions they do now; the only difference is that businesses will now be taxed for it — and those increased costs will be passed to you, the consumer, in the form of higher prices.

Provinces will not release fewer emissions than they did previously, as most people don’t have a choice if they drive a pickup truck or heat their home with natural gas. However, under the Liberal carbon tax, the residents of the province will have to somehow pay for it. Because of the carbon tax, every product you purchase and every household bill you pay will go up in cost.

To put this in perspective, in British Columbia there is a provincial carbon tax. This tax places a $30 per tonne price on carbon, adding 6.67 cents per litre at the gas pump. It makes B.C. the second most expensive province for gas prices in all of Canada, just behind Newfoundland and Labrador. In Alberta, if a carbon tax is fully implemented in 2018, gas prices will be roughly the same as in B.C. With the Liberal goal of $50 per tonne by 2022, gas prices will increase by at least 11 cents per litre.

A carbon tax will also mean significant increases to the price of heating your home. In Alberta, where we heat most of our houses using natural gas, under the carbon tax, there will be an increased tax of $1.50 a gigajoule. Although it may not seem significant at first, after one cold winter the difference will be alarming. It has been estimated that if this carbon tax is imposed on Canada, Alberta will be the most affected by the rise of electricity costs.

This increase in natural gas and electricity will also affect businesses, meaning the prices of non-energy products are also likely to increase. This, of course, directly affects households as they will be forced to spend more on everyday items like groceries and transportation.

Overall, it is estimated that with a $50 per tonne carbon tax, the average Canadian household will end up paying $600 per year. This amount will go up if you drive your own vehicle instead of taking public transit or if you own your own house instead of a condo. With the prices of everyday living already increasing, the carbon tax will have a detrimental impact on household budgets. With instability in the housing market and job loss on the rise, the last thing Canadians need from their government is another tax.

This carbon tax is the wrong approach to reaching climate targets and stimulating the economy. Forcing provinces to adopt a carbon tax is not in the best interest of Canadians — or Canada’s climate. Canadians will not stop purchasing groceries that were shipped to their local supermarket, quit heating their homes, or stop driving to work (especially in a place like Lethbridge). Therefore, carbon will still be released into the environment at the same rate it is now. The only difference the carbon tax will make is impose greater financial burden on families and kill jobs.

I know we are all tough Albertans who can brave the coldest of winters, but there does come a time when turning on the heat is nice. I for one do not want to pay extra tax for choosing not to be a human icicle, and as your Member of Parliament, I don’t think you should either.