Editorial: Happy New Year?

Starting January 1, you will pay more to fill up your car. You will pay more to heat your home. Transporting goods to market will cost more. This is thanks to the new “Cap and Trade” system the Ontario government implemented.

Ontario joined Quebec and California in a carbon-credit trading exchange, as a way of putting a cost on pollution. A cost we all get to help pay.

At the gas pump, this adds 4.5 cents per litre to the price of gas. We already pay 10 cents per litre provincial excise tax and 14.7 cents per litre federal excise tax. We pay 13% sales tax included in the price at the pump so what is another 4.5 cents per litre?

The jury is still out on whether this will help deal with climate change, or is a shell-game and taxation scheme for the provincial Liberals. Pundits are already warning of this being yet another boondoggle for this provincial government. The newest in a long list of boondoggles for the Kathleen Wynne Liberals.

It is acknowledged that there is climate change. Yet it is difficult to see how further taxation is going to solve or mitigate the issue. With so few jurisdictions participating in the carbon-credit exchange, is the Wynne government making it more difficult to do business in Ontario?

Gone are the days of issue-based agreements, such as the Acid Rain agreement in the 1980’s.

If you recall, that was where two countries, Canada and the United States, met and came up with science-based targets to deal with the effects of Acid Rain. Those two countries then worked with industry to implement the agreement. Some factories put scrubbers on smoke stacks, others retooled. If a business failed to follow the new rules they were the ones who paid fines. Businesses were encouraged to invest in new technology to help the environment, and it worked. Polluters in Ontario like Inco and Falconbridge cut their emissions by more than 75 per cent. Throughout both countries there is measurable reductions in Acid Rain with more targets still to be achieved.

In comparison, the cap-and-trade scheme allows polluting businesses to buy their way out of their polluting methods by purchasing more credits, not by fixing their pollution. No investment in new equipment is required. It is hard to see how that mitigates damage to the environment.

Meanwhile we all pay. We pay if we do our part, and we pay if others don’t. It appears to be regressive taxation no matter which side you look at. Happy New Year.

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