By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
While the federal Liberal Party has vowed to loosen regulations in its carbon tax set to come into effect next year, Oshawa’s MP is far from happy.
Last week the Trudeau government announced it would be lowering the benchmarks where companies would start to pay taxes on emissions.
Under original plans, companies would be required to pay tax on any emissions that exceeded 70 per cent of federal guidelines.
On Aug. 1, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna confirmed benchmarks would be increased to 90 per cent for producers of cement, iron and steel, lime and nitrogen fertilizer, and 80 per cent for all other industries.
In an update posted on the government of Canada’s website on July 27, it is stated these changes were made due to competitiveness concerns.
However, Oshawa MP Colin Carrie says it is the federal government “admitting the policy is a failure.”
“More and more Canadians are understanding that it is,” he adds.
Despite the increased benchmarks, Carrie says the carbon tax still represents a substantial burden for companies.
“Canada is becoming a less competitive place to do business,” he says.
For Carrie, it is one in a long line of “failed economic policies” under the current government.
“This is not fair. People are starting to pay attention,” he says.
Locally, Carrie has hosted a series of roundtables with local businesses and he says the carbon tax is a looming concern. But he’s also concerned for citizens.
“It’s the proof in the pudding that it was a bad policy from day one,” he says. “What bothers a lot of Canadians is they still won’t tell us the overall cost. It’s time to come clean on the costs, and reveal how much is this going to cost every Canadian family.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, along with his Saskatchewan counterpart Scott Moe, plans to launch a constitutional challenge of the carbon tax.
Ford cancelled Ontario’s cap and trade program shortly after taking office, which set the stage for the federal government to impose its plan.
Provinces have until the end of this year to submit individual carbon plans or the federal levy will apply.
In Carrie’s view, Ontario’s cap and trade program was just another form of a carbon tax.
“When you say it’s a price on carbon. A price is something that the market sets,” he says. “A tax is a compulsory cost added to goods and services. What it did do was it put a compulsory price on carbon.”
The Conservative MP says his party leader Andrew Scheer will release plans to address climate change before the federal election in fall 2019.
When it comes to the environment, Carrie says there should be both federal and provincial jurisdictions.
“With the Liberals, it’s their way or the highway. I think what is really important to recognize is that each province has a different economy,” he says. “The argument is what works in one province doesn’t work in another province.”