Federal government’s carbon pricing could determine election

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer welcomed 2019 with a warning to Canadians during a campaign stop in Saskatchewan

Andrew Scheer started 2019 with a warning to Canadians ahead of this year’s federal election. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer welcomed 2019 with a warning that if Canadians re-elect Justin Trudeau this year, the federal carbon tax that’s going to take effect will only climb.

“Canadians know what Justin Trudeau is going to do. Now that his carbon tax is here, it’s only going to go up. And if he gets re-elected in 10 months, it will go up even more,” Scheer said during a New Year’s Day news conference in a Giant Tiger store in Regina.

“This time next year I plan on being able to tell Canadians that Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax is a thing of the past.”

The federal government’s new carbon pricing system comes into effect in 2019 in provinces that don’t have carbon pricing mechanisms of their own. The carbon price outlined by Ottawa starts at a minimum of $20 a tonne and rises $10 annually until 2022.

But Scheer told reporters that government officials are saying the tax would need to rise to $100 per tonne for it to be effective at reducing carbon emissions, and he says the federal environment department is planning for a carbon tax of $300 per tonne.

“So we know Justin Trudeau will raise the carbon tax higher. His experts are telling him to. His own government departments are telling him to,” Scheer said.

“At that price home heating bills will rise by more than $1,000 a year and gas prices would go up by more than 60 cents a litre.”

When asked by a reporter about his own plan to fight climate change, Scheer responded that the Conservatives’ plan will help reduce global emissions by capitalizing on Canada’s clean technology and cleaner energy, which he said will also keep manufacturing jobs in Canada instead of moving to countries without those things.

Canada’s former parliamentary budget officer predicted in a report in April that the federal government’s carbon tax will cut economic growth by 0.5 per cent or $10 billion dollars when it’s fully implemented in 2022, and would generate significant revenues.

However, Jean-Denis Frechette’s report noted the impact on the economy will depend on how those revenues are used.

Trudeau says Ottawa will return 90 per cent of the money it collects from a carbon tax to Canadians.

Saskatchewan is asking its Court of Appeal to rule on whether the carbon tax is unconstitutional and has argued its climate change plan is enough to reduce emissions and a carbon tax would hurt the Saskatchewan economy.

Scheer, who represents Regina—Qu’Appelle in Parliament, said Saskatchewan’s fight against the tax gets easier as more provinces elect governments that also oppose it, like Ontario and New Brunswick did in 2018.

“Premier (Scott) Moe and Premier (Brad) Wall before him had a bit of a lonely battle but now they’ve got reinforcements. And my message to Canadians is come 2019, the battle will be won,” Scheer said.

(Canadian Press)

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