December 19, 2017

Another province calling Trudeau’s energy tax bluff

Another province calling Trudeau’s energy tax bluff

When Alberta’s NDP government introduced its carbon dioxide emissions tax, one of the ministers’ oft-repeated claims was that if they didn’t impose a “made in Alberta” carbon tax, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would impose his own Ottawa-concocted carbon tax, leaving taxpayers worse off.

More than a year later, New Brunswick is challenging that “we have no choice” assertion. Premier Brian Gallant’s government announced that instead of introducing a new carbon tax, they are re-branding a portion of their current gasoline tax as a carbon tax and redirecting cash from the existing tax into a fund to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Critics of the New Brunswick government’s plan are skeptical. Redirecting existing funds means less money for general revenues, and seldom do taxpayers see governments do more with less. Piling the money into a green fund can easily become a money pit of black hole proportions (see: Ontario).

But while federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna directed some disapproving comments at New Brunswick – and repeated that Ottawa will impose the federal price on any jurisdiction that doesn’t apply it – to date it’s all talk.

With N.B. voters going to the polls next year, is Trudeau likely to push an unpopular carbon tax on would-be Liberal voters, threatening Gallant’s Liberal government?