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Shields: Canadians want government to ‘butt out of their lives’

Posted on March 21, 2024 by Vauxhall Advance

By Cal Braid
Vauxhall Advance
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Martin Shields, MP for Bow River, didn’t hold back when he spoke recently in the House of Commons. It was the latest in a string of denunciations targeting the Liberals and a carbon tax that many Conservatives fiercely oppose.

He said, “While the common-sense Conservatives would axe the tax, build the homes, fix the budget and stop the crime, after eight years, the NDP-Liberal Prime Minister is not worth the cost, crime or corruption.”

“On April 1, and this is not an April Fool’s Day joke, we can get ready for another 23 per cent carbon tax increase from the NDP-Liberal government, which will rob money from hard-working Canadians, increase food prices and not lower emissions.”

Shields said he’s heard from constituents, who have called him “in desperation” and shared their woes as they face “skyrocketing energy bills.” He said some are paying nearly double in carbon tax than the energy they use. His words were frosty as he took a jab at Minister Steven Guilbeault, “If the radical environment minister had his way, all Alberta families would be forced to freeze inside or walk to work in -40°C on roads and bridges that would no longer exist.”

“Common-sense Conservatives would axe the tax for everyone, everywhere, so Canadians could afford to heat their homes, drive their kids to school, get to work and get the government to butt out of their lives for good,” he concluded.

The MP’s stance is understandable from one point of view, but there are a lot of different angles for viewing the carbon tax ‘initiative.’ Depending on your viewpoint (and your bank statement), the tax could be seen as either motivational or punitive. It could be a front-end cost with a back-end benefit – or a completely ineffective means to an end. It could be pointless if the tax isn’t used to create viable alternatives. It could be useful if it creates a mindset geared towards cleaner and greener living. The federal government’s website says, “Carbon pricing is about recognizing the cost of pollution and accounting for those costs in our daily decisions.”

Premier Danielle Smith has brushed aside the federal goal of reaching net zero by 2035 and is in favour of bumping that objective back 15 years to 2050. How she plans to implement that is unclear, but for now she’s in charge of the carbon tax kickbacks that the federal government sends to the province. The feds assert that, “All direct proceeds from the federal pricing system are returned to the province or territory where they were collected. Those provinces and territories with their own carbon pricing systems use the proceeds as they see fit.”

Each province or territory can develop its own pricing system or choose the federal pricing system. “The federal government sets minimum national stringency standards (the federal benchmark) that all pricing systems must meet to ensure they are comparable and effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” says the federal site. It would be surprising if Smith was implementing any tax above and beyond the federal benchmark.

When it comes to carbon tax applied to fuel, the feds say that roughly 90 percent of that goes back out as rebates, and eight in 10 households get more money back than they spend on the fuel charge. “The remaining proceeds from the federal price on pollution charged to fuel are returned to businesses, farmers and Indigenous groups in the same province or territory where it was collected,” it says.

It’s a highly-charged topic, and multifaceted. There’s more to it than the dollar total tacked onto utility bill and gas receipts. But if you’re struggling to get by, sometimes that’s all there is to it.

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