Editorial: The carbon tax is here. Now what?

After years of speculation and concern, the carbon tax that is being force-fed on Saskatchewan and other provinces by the federal government is now in place.

Perhaps it’s fitting that the carbon tax came into effect on April 1, since so many people in this province and other jurisdictions view it as a joke.

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But it’s in place, and it’s going to affect our financial bottom lines for at least the next few months.

The most noticeable change was the price at the pump. It’s going to cost a little bit more to fill up your gasoline tank.

As for the other impacts, those won’t be known immediately, but you can be sure that they won’t be good for consumers. It’ll cost more to heat our homes and turn the lights on.

And while there shouldn’t be an immediate change in prices at the grocery store and elsewhere, it will cost more for groceries eventually. After all, if it costs more to ship and transport food, and get it to market, then those costs will be passed on to us further down the line.

And it’s not just at the grocery store, either, where we’ll eventually see a difference. Anything that has a higher cost of shipping or transportation will be affected. In other words, it’s going to cost more to purchase virtually everything.

The federal government says this carbon tax will be expense neutral. And for those direct expenses, it might be. We’re going to get carbon tax rebate checks that will likely be higher than the money we spend at the pumps or on home heating. But will those rebates offset everything else that is going to go up in price? Probably not.

For whatever reason, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is enamoured with the carbon tax. He thinks it’s the way to go, even though this tax has done nothing to curb emissions in other places.

Canada needs to take measures to reduce our emissions, just like all countries do. But the carbon tax isn’t the answer.

We’ve heard talk about the possibility of a carbon tax ever since the Liberals were elected in 2015. They campaigned on it and once they became the governing party, they said it would be forced upon any province that didn’t have a carbon tax or a carbon price of some sort that met their lofty standards.

We knew it would be forced on Saskatchewan, because the governing Saskatchewan Party thought it would be better to stand up for Saskatchewan industries, and fight the feds on this file, than to a system of their own.

It was the right move. Why would the provincial government hurt their own economy with a carbon tax? At least the Sask. Party can say they’ve done everything they can to fight the feds on this issue, including going to court.

There are also unanswered questions regarding the carbon tax, even though the feds have had more than three years to prepare for it.

We know that it’s going to cost more to fill up our gasoline tanks. We also know that it’s going to be gradually increased. That is, assuming the Liberals remain in power. As more information is revealed about the SNC Lavalin scandal, the Liberals seem to lose more support.

We don’t know how much our heating and electricity bills will go up. We don’t know how this will impact small and medium-sized businesses. And we don’t know how much our expenses related to the carbon tax will dwarf our carbon tax rebates.  

We also don’t know how it will affect our competitiveness, especially when you consider that our neighbours to the south don’t have a carbon tax.

Saskatchewan is no longer alone in the fight over the carbon tax. Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick are in on it, too. Alberta will join the fight should the United Conservative Party be elected later this month.

It was hoped the growing opposition to the carbon tax would cause the Liberals to rethink this move, and look at other options, but the Liberals held their ground.

So we now have a carbon tax. The upcoming federal election will go a long ways in determining its extent and longevity.


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