EDITORIAL: Liberals Ringing in the New Year with Cap-and-Trade Cash Grab

A new year for many of us means new opportunities to achieve our goals or get a fresh start; but for the Liberals, it means new opportunities to dip into Ontarians’ pockets. While many of us are making plans to spend New Year with loved ones, revelling in the cheer of the season, the Liberals will be implementing their cash-and-trade scheme- pardon me, I meant to say ‘cap-and-trade scheme’- on January 1st.

The Liberals’ plan will see Ontarians hit up at the pumps for an additional 4.3 cents per litre and on average an extra $5-10 per month for home heating bills. All in all, Kathleen Wynne’s government hopes to generate almost $9 billion dollars to cover many of the Liberals’ pet projects, including covering the $1.2 billion in spending promises they made earlier this year before their cap-and-trade program was even rolled out. With such staggering costs to cover, it’s no wonder that we’re about to pay, and pay big.

But don’t simply take my word for it. Independent officers of the Legislature, such as the Auditor General and the Financial Accountability Officer, have also expressed concerns that the Liberal scheme will not reduce emissions in Ontario but rather in California where the bulk of the trading will take place. The cap and trade scheme will also enable the Liberals to artificially balance the budget in time for the next election. Pretty convenient if you ask me.

Private sector analysts have also crunched numbers, and they add up to a dismal picture. According to their estimates, gasoline costs will increase by $400 a year, and natural gas costs will increase by $475 annually. In total, household energy bills, including electricity, gasoline and natural gas, could increase by $1,500 a year. When Ontarians are already reeling over the increased costs of electricity – no one can afford this added cost of Liberal mismanagement.

It’s easy for the Minister of Environment to dismiss a 4.3 cents, plus HST, per litre increase on gasoline as “not a lot”, but to those of us who don’t have the luxury of easily-accessible public transportation, or the ability to afford a $100,000 electric vehicle, it makes a huge difference.

And who can forget that earlier this summer, it was revealed that the Liberals plan to make cap-and-trade costs subject to the HST- essentially a tax on a tax- despite the fact that they easily could have petitioned the Canadian Revenue Agency to make it exempt?

Or how about the fact that 76 percent of natural gas users have indicated that they wanted cap-and-trade listed as a separate line item on their bills, but the Liberals didn’t stop the OEB from requiring that it be buried in the delivery charges?

The Liberals just aren’t concerned with the struggles or wishes of Ontarians until it costs them votes at the polls.

It goes to show how far out of touch with the public this government has truly become, that they are willing to raise the cost of living at a time when so many Ontarians are already seeing their hydro bills increase at an alarming rate, and having to make choices between heating their homes or putting food on the table.

But there is hope. As we look forward to 2017, I share with you my New Year’s resolution: I will continue to bring your voices to Queen’s Park, and I will continue to fight for an Ontario that can prosper once again. I will not quietly let this government railroad us further into debt and financial ruin.

–     Lisa Thompson, MPP for Huron-Bruce

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