Carbon Tax May Fail as Election Controversy with Gasoline Prices Holding Steady
While federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer may have hopes of turning the Liberal government’s carbon tax into an election issue, it’ll be hard to make the argument stick if actual gasoline prices aren’t cooperating, columnist Kelly McParland argues in the National Post.
“If you only go by prices at the pump, which I bet most people do, the great Liberal carbon tax scandal doesn’t appear to be panning out as opponents hoped,” McParland writes.
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Since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled the federal backstop price on carbon last October, with plans to impose it in provinces that didn’t charge their own minimum carbon taxes in line with the pan-Canadian climate plan, his federal and provincial opponents have raised the spectre of massive costs for consumers. But that’s not the way things have turned out.
“In the four provinces that saw the tax imposed in April, gas prices are lower than they were on the day it took effect,” McParland notes. “In provinces with their own version of a carbon levy in place, the same is largely true. Which is a big problem for arch opponents of the tax: how do you blame any one factor for the price of a commodity that jumps around like a frisky puppy newly escaped from the backyard?”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford “would love it if prices had gone through the roof and stayed there,” he adds. “It would allow him to shake his fist and blame Justin Trudeau for putting his hands deep into the pockets of hard-working Ontarians and helping himself to their hard-earned pay.”
But that’s not what’s happened in real life. Toronto did see the average retail price of gas rise in April, decline for a month or so, rise over the summer, then fall yet again. It currently stands at 117.9¢ per litre, compared to just under 116.0 on the day Trudeau’s backstop price on carbon took effect. Gas prices range as low as 103.9¢ per litre in some parts of the Greater Toronto Area.
“This is not to say Ford was completely wrong about the impact of pricing carbon,” McParland opines, “just that it’s never a great idea to tie your political fortunes to the cost of anything that can rise or fall precipitously at a moment’s notice for reasons largely outside the influence of any politician in Canada. It also suggests that when the next six weeks of federal campaigning is over, Canadians will have endured another outpouring of hyperbole about carbon and its costs without being any closer to understanding whether to believe a word they hear.”