By Cole Parkinson
As the agriculture industry in Canada continues to face challenges regarding the carbon tax, Bow River MP Martin Shields is hoping to raise awareness of their current hardships.
In the Jan. 27 debates at the House of Commons, Shields spoke about what repercussions could be seen with the rise in the carbon tax which will hit $50 per tonne in 2022.
Under the newest plan, the price will continue to rise by $15 each following year starting in 2023 until it hits $170 per tonne in 2030.
“A carbon tax hike is set to make things a lot harder for Canadian farmers and ranchers. A tax hits farmers from many different directions with very few exemptions,” said Shields. “For inputs and fertilizer, add a carbon tax. For seeds, add a carbon tax. Equipment, machinery and parts cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a combine is close to $1 million. Add to that a carbon tax. For grain drying, which costs tens of thousands of dollars, add a carbon tax. For heating buildings, and there are many, add a carbon tax. We have a crop, and now what do we do? We have to truck it and deliver it, with a carbon tax added on. For grain companies and elevators, add a carbon tax. What about the railway? Yes, we have to move things, so add a carbon tax. Producers pay all the downstream costs with no ability to increase the price they receive. Agriculture sector producers use the most energy-efficient and innovative means in the world. Agriculture producers are also carbon sinks.”
Shields stated the raise in taxes is coming without acknowledging the damage it will do to the farm and ag industry.
He also highlighted the fact the Keystone XL pipeline is already causing some distress in Western Canada due to the fact it would bring some economic bump.
“The government is hiking the carbon tax, or the clean fuel standards tax, without a comprehensive plan to address the damage it is going to cause to our agriculture sector and supply chain. Speaking of challenges on the prairies, the cancellation of the Keystone pipeline is devastating to real people, families, businesses and communities. We need jobs and growth, and the pipeline supplied both. The prime minister talks about support for the resource sector, but killed the northern gateway and added barriers to energy east that killed it. The government legislated Bill C-48 and Bill C-69, which did in pipelines as well,” he said. “The Liberals also bought a pipeline from a private company that just wanted to build it and wanted the government to get out of the way so it could do it. Now it is many billions of dollars over budget and years behind completion. Will it get built? Is Enbridge Line 5 through Michigan next on the hit list? It would mean thousands of jobs in Ontario and Quebec.”
Another hit to the economy playing a role all across the board in the COVID-19 pandemic.
With no clear end to the pandemic in sight, Shields noted getting people back to work will be imperative.
“Post-COVID-19 jobs in the resource sector are an essential part of getting Canadians back to work and recovering Canada’s economy. We need this sector working. Where is the plan to do it?” he asked.
“Speaking of plans, was the COVID-19 plan a Canada-focused plan? We all know the first thing the government should have done was protect the most vulnerable and protect front-line workers. How do we do that? It is with rapid testing, tracing and isolation. Instead, the government’s plan was lacking significantly, and we slowed down the economy to almost a crawl. Then it was basically closed twice. Sadly, many vulnerable families have been lost forever. Many businesses are closed and many more will be. Students have lost an academic year, and hundreds of thousands of jobs are lost. Mental health challenges are now exploding. Now in January, 10 months later, the government has started asking for COVID tests. Where was that 10 months ago? Where was the support for Canadian industries to develop rapid testing and vaccines? We need to protect lives and livelihoods. That is the key to getting out of this crisis and getting people back to work. The government’s handling of this situation has prolonged the economic damage and is risking lives.”
In response, Neil Ellis, Liberal MP for Bay of Quinte, stated the Liberal government has been focusing on trade opportunities with several other countries.
“Our government is maximizing our trade opportunities for our farmers. We have been working hard to diversify our trade through agreements with key trading partners, including the European Union, North America and the countries of the trans-Pacific partnership. Most recently, we did so through the trade agreement with the United Kingdom. The results speak for themselves. The 14 free trade agreements we have in place cover 51 countries, connecting our farmers to 1.5 billion global consumers. Together these agreements give Canadian farmers a competitive edge in over 60 per cent of the global economy. Today, we are the only G7 nation to have a free trade agreement with the other six nations. That puts us in a very powerful position internationally.”