Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Horrible Idea Whose Time Should Not Come

Levac: Carbon tax "presently on the table"

In 2008, the federal Liberal party presented to Canadians a proposal that could have precipitated an economic disaster in Canada.

Pitched by Stephane Dion, cobbled together from an idea proposed by Michael Ignatieff during the 2006 Liberal leadership campaign, they called it the Green Shift. It was essentially a carbon tax paired with income tax cuts.

Yet the income tax "cuts" wouldn't reduce the tax burden on the average Canadian family. Shifted to industry in the form of a carbon tax, those cuts would come back to haunt Canadians in the form of higher prices for absolutely everything. As private businesses are not charities, they would inevitably pass their higher costs along to the consumer.

The best-case scenario was that Canadians would be no better off for indulging the Liberal Party's foray into utopianism. A likelier scenario is that the tax would have scared off foreign and domestic investment in Canada, ultimately leading to an economic collapse.

Now, with the 2011 Ontario election on the line, Premier Dalton McGuinty is considering setting Ontario on this very disastrous path.

With the green energy companies that were to be the feathers in McGuinty's cap failing one by one -- in some cases, failing to do much of anything but provide McGuinty with photo ops -- McGuinty is turning to the last alternative policy that he can to pander to environmentalists.

In an online chat, Dave Levac, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, has indicated that the McGuinty Liberals are already considering a carbon tax.

"It's being reviewed, and some of my colleagues are more enthusiastic about it than others," Levac declared. "There is a possibility that a carbon tax is on the table to evaluate, because it already is."

Levac noted that a carbon tax is not presently in the Liberal election platform. This is something of a meaningless detail; many of the things that were in the last Liberal election platform were not done. Many of the things that were done -- including the HST -- were not in the election platform.

Regardless of how sympathetic McGuinty is to a carbon tax proposal, he owes it to the voters of Ontario to not spring it on them as a post-election surprise. The time to tell Ontario voters precisely what manner of a carbon tax is on the table.

If the Liberals had learned from the failure of Canadians to fall for the proposals of their federal counterparts, the answer would be "none at all". Yet as Dave Levac has it, this is not the case.

A carbon tax would drive up the cost of literally everything an Ontario family consumes: housing, energy, groceries, everything.

Dalton McGuinty owes Ontarians the opportunity to use the 2011 election as a referendum on such a prospect. Whether or not he'll be forthcoming with Ontario voters remains yet to be seen.

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