That the Standing Committee on Finance be instructed to undertake a study on: (a) how the government could examine approaches and methods to ensure maximum transparency for consumers related to the costs of carbon pricing, including a requirement for a dedicated line item on invoices and receipts; (b) mechanisms the government could use to report annually to Parliament on the financial impact, past and projected, of the federally-mandated price on carbon on Canadian households and employers; and that the Committee report its findings and recommendations to the House within four months of the adoption of this motion.
Madam Speaker, I am not going to lie, but it is actually a bit bothersome that I should even have to introduce a motion like Motion No. 131. However, today I get the opportunity to challenge the Liberals' commitment to be transparent with Canadians, since the Liberals are forcing their mandatory carbon tax on all Canadians.
Motion No. 131 would instruct the federal government to report annually to the House of Commons on the financial impact this tax is inflicting on Canadian families and Canadian employers alike. It would also instruct the Standing Committee on Finance to study new approaches and methods to ensure maximum transparency for consumers about the costs of carbon pricing. Last, Motion No. 131 calls on the government to report its findings and recommendations to the House of Commons in the four months following the passage of this motion.
That is not too difficult, right? My colleagues on this side of the House have been trying for months to get the Liberals to immediately, and completely release all estimates of cost burdens on Canadians in regard to their mandatory carbon tax. An ATIP request of this information was completely redacted. The censored documents demonstrate the government has done an analysis of how the carbon tax will impact Canadians' budgets, including the price increases of things like home heating, gas, electricity, and of course, grocery bills.
The Liberals just refuse to make the information public. This is information the Liberals currently have, but they refuse to be transparent about it, because the Liberals would rather avoid telling Canadians how much this is actually going to be costing them. Let us not forget, this is the party that campaigned on openness and transparency with all Canadians.
In fact, let me take a minute to read the Liberals' views on openness and transparency that come directly from their website. This is the message they are sending to Canadians. The Liberals' website states:
At its heart is a simple idea: transparent government is good government. If we want Canadians to trust their government, we need a government that trusts Canadians. We will amend the Access to Information Act so that all government data and information is made open by default in machine-readable, digital formats. We will also ensure that Access to Information applies to the Prime Minister's and Ministers' Offices, as well as administrative institutions that support Parliament and the courts.
If this is not the definition of hypocrisy, then I do not know what is. Considering the numerous opportunities the Liberals have been given, not once have they been transparent about their apparently revenue neutral carbon tax, which we know, again, is not true.
What exactly is a revenue neutral tax which the Liberals keep promising? They claim that it means all revenue generated from the carbon tax would stay in each province. Just last month, the Minister of Environment released a technical paper which ultimately seeks to mimic Alberta's carbon tax plan. I am sure if we asked Albertans how that is going over, they will tell us it is not going so well.
The Alberta plan, like the Liberals' plan, claims to be revenue neutral, meaning that every dollar taken out of taxpayers' pockets is then spent by the Alberta government. Let us be honest. This tax does nothing but make the necessities of life more expensive for the everyday consumer, and will likely have no impact on actually achieving its goal.
In case members have any doubt, recent estimates show that the Alberta carbon tax program has raised the price of a litre of gasoline by about 4.5¢. By 2018, a single person will have to pay approximately $400 more per year for gas, heat, groceries, and other goods affected by the Liberal carbon tax. A couple with two kids will have to pay an average of $600. This is ludicrous. Alberta is collecting about $5.4 billion between 2017 and 2019 from its carbon tax, but only issuing $1.5 billion in rebates. This so-called revenue neutral tax is anything but neutral.
Do not take my word for it. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation recently stated:
If the federal plan is to take money from taxpayers, and dish it back to businesses they choose in the form of corporate welfare, and select people they choose in the form of rebates, it will not be revenue neutral.
In actuality, the Alberta government has created its own farce of a definition of revenue neutrality, one that consists of taking taxpayers' money, and spending it on how it sees fit.
The federation went on to say that if the federal government copies Alberta's definition of revenue neutrality, every tax in Canadian history would be considered revenue neutral.
I bring this up not only because it is of great concern to Albertans but, in fact, the Parliamentary Library calculated that the additional GST the Liberals are placing on the Alberta and B.C. carbon program will enrich the federal government by about $130 million to $150 million over the next two years. This is approximately 5% of the annual cost of carbon tax in each of those provinces. As my colleague, the member for Langley—Aldergrove, brilliantly said, “That's where the federal government suddenly gets rich off Canadians”.
I am here today to challenge the Liberal government to support my motion, and prove to Canadians and everyone in the House that it will finally start being transparent. Since the Liberals stated their intention of imposing a national carbon tax, I have been in disbelief with how deceitful and shameful the government has been to members of the House and to all Canadians. The Liberals have been caught red-handed misleading Canadians about the lack of information they have on the cost of this mandatory carbon tax. The worse part, after being exposed for misleading Canadians and for withholding this information, the government did not even blink an eye. I am genuinely curious as to what type of an explanation the government could possibly come up with for deliberately concealing information that will have a profound impact on millions of Canadians.
Despite the heavily redacted report the Liberals issued, thanks to the pursuant work by my colleague, the hon. member for Carleton, one thing was clear: the conclusion.
Jean-François Perrault, who was assistant deputy minister at Finance Canada, and now chief economist at Scotia Bank said that these higher costs, associated with the carbon tax, would then cascade through the economy in the form of higher prices, thus leading all firms, and consumers to pay more for good and services with higher carbon content.
In case that was not clear, taxing carbon emissions will have compounding effects on all aspects of our economy. For example, as seen in Alberta, we know that the carbon tax will increase the price of fuel. If gas prices rise, then the price of transporting goods will undoubtedly rise as well. If the price of transporting goods increases, then guess what will happen to the price of these goods? They will skyrocket.
It is bad enough that the Liberals deem it appropriate to further tax individuals on the basic necessities of life, such as gasoline, heat, and electricity, but to slap on these compounding costs without telling Canadians is just plain wrong.
In essence, this tax specifically discriminates against Canada's poorest individuals who are already overwhelmed and overburdened with just paying their bills. As we have already heard many times in the House, Ontario, my home province, has the worst poverty record of any province in Canada. More so, the poverty rate dropped by one-third in British Columbia, the Prairies, and Atlantic Canada. There is nothing fair about this carbon tax. One does not need to be an expert to understand that individuals living around or below the poverty line often spend at least one-third of their monthly salaries just paying for what people would consider basic necessities.
If the Liberals are insistent that their only solution to combatting climate change is by taxing Canadians, then at the very least they should be telling consumers how much it is going to cost them.
According to the Minister of Environment, she says over and over again that pollution is not free, yet there is no evidence that taxation will actually work. The facts about how badly this tax will impact Canadians are not clear.
However, from a speculative standpoint, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, it is estimated that the carbon tax will cost $1,028 per person, per year, or $4,112 per year for a family of four when it is fully implemented in 2022. A study by the University of Calgary estimates that a carbon tax will cost between $603 and $1,120 per year, depending on the province. These numbers are so mind-boggling that close to 2,000 people signed petition E-910 in complete outrage. In terms of stakeholders, the consequences are far-reaching, and can be felt across the country, including in my own riding of Oshawa.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business recently reported that a great majority of its members fear that they will not be able to absorb the consequences of this forced carbon tax. They are also worried about global competitiveness, and that is so important in my community of Oshawa, that a decrease in their profitability could lead to a major reduction in business investments. No investments means no jobs. What does the government not understand?
The Liberals should be working to improve Canada's competitiveness, and should be fighting to maintain our global competitive advantage. Instead, it appears the Prime Minister is more interested in imposing a carbon tax that will kill jobs by the thousands.
Why would any company, including Canadian companies, be interested in investing in Canada if they do not know what the cost of doing business will be? That is the whole point. These exact issues were confirmed by a report issued by the Stikeman Elliott law firm, which basically confirmed Canadians are left guessing whether the federal government will have the tools to actually introduce and enforce a floor price on carbon.
There is another question. How does the federal government intend to properly measure and consolidate the two different pricing methods? In other words, it would be a carbon tax versus a cap and trade. How does the proposed pricing line up with Canada's commitment under the Paris agreement?
Our American counterparts are working to reduce regulation, lower taxes, and are investing in coal-fired electricity to reduce energy costs. With uncertainty over the effects of the Liberals' national climate change plan, with the U.S. recently reneging from the Paris agreement, and with Canadian companies sitting on the sidelines waiting to find out how much the cost of doing business will be, it is time the Liberals start taking action. It is time for them to come clean.
In light of all the issues I just exposed regarding the carbon tax, I propose Motion No. 131, with the hopes that everyone will agree.
I want to reiterate that this should not be a divisive motion. In fact, it was inspired by the large bold slogan running next to the Prime Minister's face on the Liberal website. I want members to imagine the Prime Minister's face, like a selfie, and the slogan reads “Openness, Transparency, Fairness”, with the Prime Minister standing there and very proud about it. That is what the Liberals are saying.
I am asking for three things. First, for the federal government to report annually to the House of Commons regarding the financial impacts this mandatory carbon tax will have on Canadian families and employers. Second, for the Standing Committee on Finance to investigate new ways of ensuring that there is maximum transparency for consumers about the cost of carbon pricing, such as a line item on receipts. Third, for the government to report its findings and recommendations to the House of Commons within four months following the passage of this motion.
If the government cannot agree to have the finance committee undertake this important transparent study, then it will be acting in complete juxtaposition to the bold writing on its website.
Misleading the House about the consequences of imposing a carbon tax on millions of Canadians is not openness. Redacting a document that tells Canadians how much they will need to pay out of pocket is certainly not being transparent. Lastly, punishing struggling Canadians for heating their homes, keeping their lights on, and purchasing groceries is absolutely not fair.