EDITORIAL: Ontario’s cap-and-trade, Canada’s price on carbon

The results of the Liberals’ first cap-and-trade auction rolled in this week and are showing that the PC Party has been right all along: because of the Liberal’s cap-and-trade scheme, we are sending our hard-earned dollars to other jurisdictions like California.

In an open letter to Kathleen Wynne today, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce echoed our concerns, calling on the government to take immediate steps to publically evaluate the cumulative impact of current and incoming policies on the competitiveness of Ontario businesses. And I agree that this needs to be done. They should also take a look at the effect that these policies are having on the average Ontarian.

Another reality is that Canada is putting a price on carbon, the nature of which is still being negotiated with the provinces. With national carbon pricing being the new national reality, Opposition Leader Patrick Brown has written an open letter to Justin Trudeau stating that Kathleen Wynne’s cap-and-trade law “does not have Ontario’s best interests at heart,” and requesting that Ontario cap-and-trade be removed from the Trudeau carbon pricing system. I’m not holding my breath on that one though.

The problem with the provincial cap-and-trade scheme and the federal price on carbon is that going electric is neither technologically nor economically feasible for most, thanks to the Ontario Liberals’ Green Energy Act. I voted against that Bill, as well as against their cap-and-trade legislation. The cap-and-trade tax system serves as a stick to try and modify behaviour without offering a viable alternative and without a carrot to reward changes made, other than using the revenue for more subsidies for things like electric cars and Toronto transit.

As Ontario’s Official Opposition, we have committed to dismantling the cap-and-trade system; ever bearing in mind the federal government is mandating all provinces put a price on carbon.

On January 1st, the province capped greenhouse emissions and will sell allowances to companies who have to exceed the cap. The province will lower the cap over time. Companies exceeding their cap can also buy additional allowances, or if they come in below their annual limit, can sell their emission allowances to other companies within a market comprised of Ontario, Quebec and California.

It is estimated Ontario businesses will be paying $300 million a year to California.

We maintain the government is so desperate to hike taxes, they have rejected a revenue-neutral plan—cap-and-trade money will disappear into general revenues.

Cap-and-trade has clearly not been designed to return money to those paying—it is a blatant $2 billion-a-year tax grab under the guise of environmentalism. It will seriously impact everyone’s pocket book. Oil refineries for example will pass their recovery costs of cap-and-trade to their customers at the pumps. It subtracts money from people, not only for gasoline, diesel, propane, natural gas, heating oil, and aviation fuel, but also for groceries, clothing and other consumer goods produced and delivered by carbon-fueled plants, equipment and transportation.

Ontario’s Auditor General reports the cap-and-trade tax will cost families an extra $156 this year for gasoline and natural gas, rising to $210 by 2019. Added transportation costs for goods and services will be another $75 per household by 2019.

We are committed to dismantling the cap-and-trade scheme and the Green Energy Act. This is the best way to ensure people’s hard-earned money stays exactly where it should stay… in their pockets.

In conclusion, I ask you the reader—where do we go from here? There probably won’t be an election until June 2018 and this is the time to consult on policy.

Provincially, the Ontario PC Party has committed to dismantle the Wynne cap-and-trade law, as well as the Green Energy Act. However, carbon pricing is now the reality in Canada, and Ontario will be bound by the Trudeau price on carbon.

─ Lisa Thompson, MPP for Huron-Bruce

Lisa Thompson was elected as MPP for Huron-Bruce in 2011 and subsequently in 2014. She is a member of the Ontario PC Caucus and currently serves as the Critic for the Environment and Cap-and-Trade for the Official Opposition.

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