Why conservative politicians across Canada think they can beat Trudeau in fight over federal carbon tax

By the time Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived at a Toronto college last month to announce the details of the federal carbon tax, the battle lines on both sides of the issue had already been drawn. Depending on whom you asked, the Liberal government’s plan to price carbon in provinces whose own plans don’t meet its standards was either a much-needed effort to start addressing climate change or a blatant tax-grab in sheep’s clothing.

Canadians have a “moral and economic imperative to act,” Trudeau told the assembled media and students, assuring taxpayers in those provinces his plan would actually leave them better off thanks to rebates the government will begin issuing in April.

Those rebates will likely be the key component of the federal effort to sell the tax to Canadians. But in a growing number of provincial capitals across the country, the pushback against the Liberal plan is just beginning to take shape.

Though the governments of Saskatchewan and Ontario have both launched legal challenges against the federal government’s plan, even they acknowledge the real fight won’t play out in the courtroom. It will instead be a battle of rhetoric and salesmanship more than policy and facts, and it will unfold in the public arena at least until the 2019 election. Conservative politicians are betting that Trudeau’s pitch to Canadians to “vote with their hearts, not their wallets,” in the words of one federal Conservative strategist, is too risky to succeed. And as the roster of provinces lined up against the federal carbon pricing plan grows, they believe their informal political alliance can doom one of Trudeau’s signature policies — and maybe even the prime minister himself.

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The Liberals are trying to sell Canadians on a carbon tax without getting bogged down too deep in the details. Environment minister Catherine McKenna has for months been touting the line that “polluting isn’t free.” When Trudeau announced the details of the federal tax in October, he assured Canadians that “every nickel will be invested in Canadians in the province or territory where it was raised.”

The tax will kick in at $20 per tonne of carbon emitted in April 2019, increasing by $10 per tonne annually until it hits $50 per tonne in 2022. It’s expected to increase gasoline prices by 4.4 cents per litre in 2019 in the provinces where it’s applied, increasing to 11 cents per litre in 2022. However, 90 per cent of the tax revenue will be returned to households as rebates, with the remaining 10 per cent used to support small businesses, schools, hospitals, and other institutions that stand to be affected.

The government estimates that 70 per cent of households will make back more than they pay. The idea is that an incentive will still exist to reduce fuel use, because a household’s rebate isn’t dependent on how much it pollutes, meaning a family will save more money as it cuts emissions.

‘An election gimmick’: Conservative politicians fire back at Trudeau’s carbon-tax rebate planDoug Ford slams …read more

Source:: Nationalpost – News


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