The first domino falls

If you were wondering how the federal government would roll out a carbon tax now that the Progressive Conservatives are ruling Ontario, you might have your answer.

The feds have revealed large industrial companies will face a lesser carbon tax when it comes into effect next year.

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Most firms that produce 50 megatonnes of carbon dioxide a year, or similar levels of pollution, won’t face any penalties, at least until their emissions reach 80 per cent of the average within their specific industry. The previous limit was 70 per cent.

The feds say this is in response to concerns over how a carbon tax would affect the competitiveness of businesses in Canada, especially with the business-friendly approach offered south of the border.

If given the choice between having a head office in Canada or the U.S. in 2018, most firms would take the U.S.

The eased restrictions for a carbon tax likely won’t change anyone’s mindset. They won’t hurt, but they won’t make much of a difference when it comes to competitiveness, emissions, revenues, expenses or jobs, either.

And they won’t have a direct impact on how much the average person is going to pay through a carbon tax.

Ontario and Saskatchewan are still going to proceed with their legal challenges to prevent the federal government from ramrodding a carbon tax down the throats of their residents.

Ultimately, these changed restrictions represent the first domino to fall for the Liberals’ carbon tax plan. Others will go down eventually.

When the Liberals first brought forward the idea of a carbon tax, they were still on their political honeymoon with the Canadian voters. Their leader was viewed as young, idealistic, charismatic and engaging, and they looked to be a shoo-in to be re-elected in 2019. They had an ally in Ontario’s government as well.

Canadians aren’t in love with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau any longer. It’s now debatable whether he will win the 2019 federal election. His decisions, ranging from small business tax changes to an embarrassing diplomatic trip to India, have turned him into a punch line.

And now that ally that was Ontario’s Liberal government is gone. A Progressive Conservative government led by Doug Ford is likely the worst thing that could happen to Trudeau.

When Trudeau was elected in 2015, people didn’t vote for him because they expected he would impose a carbon tax on provinces that lacked such a tax. They voted for him because of his family name, because he was viewed as the best alternative to the previous government, and because he seemed to have some good ideas during the campaign.

He’s not going to lose votes if he decides it’s time to pull the plug on a national carbon tax. Granted, it won’t help him win votes in Saskatchewan or Alberta if he abandons the tax; those provinces are already a lost cause for the Liberals.

But Ontario is not lost for the Liberals. And Trudeau can gain some votes there if he decides to pull the plug on the carbon tax, and let province ultimately decide whether it’s in their best interest to have a carbon tax.

The majority of Canadians seem to think the provinces should decide. It’s time for the Liberals to abandon the carbon tax plan.  

© Copyright 2018 Estevan Mercury

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