Justin Trottier explains that only the Green Party of Ontario has a realistic and sustainable plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by implementing a carbon tax coupled with an income tax reduction.
The transcript of his remarks are below:
Climate change is real. In June, as the legislature wound down before the election campaign, Ontario’s environmental commissioner Gord Miller bravely asserted the need for carbon tax to meet Ontario’s climate change goals.
Our current political parties distanced themselves as quickly as possible from any real action.
Premier Dalton McGuinty announced he would neither raise nor introduce “any new taxes, including … a carbon tax.” Ontario’s NDP Party pledged to reduce taxes on polluting energy sources like gasoline. Meanwhile, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak proudly declared “One thing we will not do — a Tim Hudak government will never do — is implement a carbon tax in any shape or form.”
Only the Green Party of Ontario has a realistic and sustainable plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by implementing a carbon tax coupled with an income tax reduction. How does a carbon tax work? Simple. Taxes are raised on all carbon emitting fuels. This means higher taxes on such combustibles like gasoline and coal. By raising the prices of all carbon emitting products, we create an incentive for people to reduce.
This would be a revenue-neutral tax, a concept that has been working well in British Columbia, as well as many other countries around the world.
This Green Party policy known as green tax shifting would balance new taxes on resources like energy with a reduction on income and corporate taxes. In this way, the Green philosophy focuses less on redistributing earned income and instead on having people contribute to society by paying more for the shared resources they take from the common pool to use in creating their products and services.
The NDP opposes carbon taxes and are even proposing to reduce taxes on gasoline, effectively subsidizing gas-guzzling vehicles instead of working to reduce emissions. We can do better.
Despite criticisms of the BC plan, “The carbon tax has been good for the environment, good for taxpayers and it hasn’t hurt the economy,” says Stewart Elgie, a professor of law and economics at the University of Ottawa.
Since 2008 when BC introduced the revenue neutral carbon tax plan, fuel consumption per capita in the province is down by 4.5%. While residents of British Columbia are using less fuel than elsewhere in Canada, they are also paying lower income taxes.
We do need to decide between the environment and the economy, nor do these policies when implemented hurt poorer people. Dale Marshall, a climate change policy analyst for the David Suzuki Foundation, explained that potential effects on poorer people can be easily offset. His advice? “create energy-efficiency programs that target low-income households. Invest in making their energy bills go down because they need less energy not because energy costs less. Second, make tax policies more progressive overall by ensuring that low-income households pay less in taxes.”
This is exactly the Green Party plan. We would lower income tax by increasing the personal tax exemption by $2000 which helps the poorest most. Secondly, to offset the increased energy costs, we would invest $100 million per year in refundable tax credits for seniors, low income residents and individuals living in rural areas to help individuals and businesses become more energy efficient.
While we’re on the topic, Dale Marshall also points out that despite its environmental rhetoric, it isn’t clear if the Ontario NDP’s would keep the highly successful Feed in tariff program of the Green Energy Act which has created thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in investment in Ontario, and is a major roadmap towards renewable energy.
NDP governments throughout Canada have never really delivered on their lofty environmental promises. However, Green parties around the world have been the most effective force for real, substantial and practical environmental and economic progress.
It’s all about a vision for the future of Ontario, and its the direction the world is going on, especially in Europe. Paul Ekins, director of Britain’s Green Fiscal Commission: “Levying a carbon tax provides a broad incentive to reduce emissions and create all kinds of green technology.”
Reducing tax on gasoline and electricity is an easy way to win votes. But don’t be fooled. Such a scheme is neither sustainable nor cost effective. Only the Green Paty of Ontario has a realistic and carefully thought out plan to move Ontario in the right direction, a plan beyond the usual left right political ideologies.
That’s why, it’s time for Green