Manitoba and the Carbon Tax


Just before we left Manitoba for Arizona, I heard our Premier Brian Pallister rail about how unfair the federal government is to Manitoba. They were not giving Manitoba credit for all their green activities such as Manitoba hydro.  Palliser does not get it.  First, the carbon tax is not a normal tax at all. It is actually revenue neutral. Every dollar of tax Manitobans will pay will be given back to Manitobans to use in activities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Every cent of tax collected will be paid back. In fact if he joins the federal plan he can decide how that money is to be spent.

This is no time to argue about Manitoba’s carbon plan compared to Canada’s plan. We must work together.    We have 30 years (or perhaps a lot less) to completely transform the global economy. This is probably the biggest task humanity has ever undertaken. We cannot fail. The result of failure are too catastrophic and the cost too immense. If we don’t make the necessary changes the climate will make them for us.

We need political leaders who can stand up to corporate interests who are putting their own welfare above that of the people. We cannot allow them to profit from pollution any longer. We also have to tackle the inequities that changed policies will necessitate.

We can use the carbon tax money to do that. We must make sure we don’t pay it back to the polluters. Then we have accomplished nothing. Too often government policies have done exactly that. We cannot shield Canadian polluters under the guise of preserving their competitiveness. Polluters should not be competitive. If every government shelters the polluters the carbon tax will bring no benefits. The price on carbon must lead to decarbonizing the economy. Business models that rely on polluting the atmosphere are outdated and must be rejected. Businesses should no longer be able to push such costs on the people of Manitoba as an “externality.” We have to use the money raised to fund clean alternatives that don’t pollute.

The policy of the federal government to impose a carbon tax of $10 per tonne of carbon pollution now, rising to $50, is likely inadequate. But at least we must do that. At the same time we can urge the federal government to do more.

The Conservatives have been criticizing the Liberals relentlessly for months, claiming the new proposed carbon tax will be a “tax grab”. Then the Liberals explained how the tax was going to be paid back to the people. Now the Conservatives are complaining the Liberals were trying to buy votes by giving the money back. That is what they promised all along. It is supposed to be a revenue neutral tax.

The carbon tax is a completely sensible proposal. Economists have been saying for some time that this is the best way to fight climate change. Really it is just an application of the polluter pays principle. It really makes complete sense that the person who pollutes pays for the pollution. Pollution should not be treated as an externality that can be passed on to society.  Those who don’t pollute will get more of the money back.

The plan could be criticized for many reasons, but Conservatives have picked the wrong ones. I think they should have attacked the carbon tax for not making carbon expensive enough!

The government is bringing a tax that will cause the price of a litre gasoline to rise less than 12 cents in 5 years. The Conservatives have been railing against this massive tax grab.   According to the retail price of gasoline has fluctuated by $0.24 in the past year, $0.38 in the past 2 years, $0.55 in the last five years. How can the modest carbon tax be economically destructive as the Conservatives have complained, remembering too that all the tax will be paid back to the people?

There are some good taxes. That sounds liken an oxymoron. Or is that just a moron?

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