Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Langley—Aldergrove for this important debate today. Bill C-342 would make amendments to exclude the collection of GST and HST on provincial carbon pricing systems.
I have unequivocally opposed the carbon tax since my very first words in the House of Commons on behalf of Lakeland. Since December 2015, I have questioned the carbon tax here in the House and in committees. I was the first MP to sponsor a petition against the carbon tax, with over 10,000 signatures. I fight for oil and gas workers, for small business owners, families, and for everyday Canadians, all of whom are rightfully angry and worried about their futures. This blatant tax grab is not environmental policy. It is a tax hike, a cash grab, full stop. It is all economic pain for no actual environmental gain.
Immediately, I opposed the Liberals forcing a carbon tax on all Canadians, and I oppose the Liberals' anti-energy agenda at every step. The Liberals say provinces and territories must comply by 2018, or a carbon tax will be forced on them. I oppose the Liberals' anti-energy agenda by supporting pipelines and LNG projects, all Canadian natural resources development, and Albertans.
Last year, the Prime Minister told Canadians, “All revenues generated under this system will stay in the province or territory where they are generated.” Now, Canadians know that is not at all the case.
As recently as April 2017, internal documents show the Liberals plan to collect billions in new tax dollars by taxing the carbon tax. That is a tax on a tax. This grab will result in more revenue for the Liberals, and less money for hard-working Canadians.
There is no guarantee from the Liberals at all that provinces and territories will ensure revenue neutrality. In Alberta and British Columbia, the GST collected by the Liberals on provincial carbon taxes in 2017-2018 will be $65 million from both provinces. In 2018-2019, Albertans will pay $140 million. British Columbians will pay $110 million in GST collected from the carbon taxes, all going into federal coffers.
The Liberals' claims are just not true. It is a scam. The Liberals know they are getting new revenue by taxing the carbon tax. In fact, they admit it in their own budget projections. Budget 2016 even shows a 21% increase in GST revenues between 2015 and 2021, despite the federal GST rate staying at 5%, and despite the Canadian economy projected to only grow by 15% during the same time period. There is no doubt this increase is coming directly from this tax on a tax scheme.
Canadians are rightfully worried. They are concerned about where their hard-earned tax dollars are going, and it is just the beginning. The Liberals are hiding the details from Canadians on the long-term costs, and the full economic impacts of the carbon tax.
Environment Canada says the carbon tax would have to be $300 a tonne by 2050 in order to reach emissions targets. Canada can reduce emissions, like it did for the first time in Canadian history, under the previous government, without a carbon tax. Crushing the economy is not the only solution.
The Liberals claim the tax will be revenue neutral, but it is not. Alberta's NDP claimed its carbon tax was revenue neutral simply because it was spending the proceeds on pet projects. B.C.'s carbon tax has not been neutral since 2013.
The carbon tax grab, and now the tax on the tax scheme, will punish Canadians, especially the poor and people on fixed incomes, those whose livelihoods depend on energy and agriculture, and Canadians who live in rural, remote and northern communities. It will hurt public institutions too. School boards will need to cope with millions of dollars in extra bills.
The Elk Island Catholic School board in Lakeland has to cover an additional $82,000 in increased costs for this school year, and about $143,000 in 2017-2018, for increased transportation and infrastructure costs because of the carbon tax, gutting budgets for necessities.
Municipalities will also struggle. St. Paul works to keep spending as low as possible, knowing the carbon tax will make it even harder to stay in the black in the next few years. Vegreville projected the carbon tax will hike the town costs by more than $36,000 in 2017, and up to more than $54,000 in 2018. These are significant costs for small towns, villages, counties, and MDs.
The carbon tax will hit all Canadians. A Lakeland resident near Vermilion shared a bill on Facebook recently. It showed a cost of $778 on top of a $900 bill on a single truckload of energy products to heat his home. A Bonnyville family-owned trucking business warned he will have to fire four people. The NDP carbon tax is the biggest tax hike in Alberta's history. It is a tax grab, not environmental policy. This broad-based tax on everything will not reduce emissions. Experts say carbon taxes have to be upward of $1,200 to be punitive enough to reduce emissions.
The Liberals are using international agreements with all our allies and trading partners to justify their bad tax hikes and their damaging red tape. For example, the Paris agreement does not mandate a carbon tax on countries. It does not dictate policy for members. It does not even mandate emission limits for those countries. The Liberal carbon tax will not earn so-called social licence or approval from anti-energy extremists who will never grant it.
The federal Liberals and the the provincial NDP are manipulating caring for the environment, a priority shared by all Canadians, all Albertans, and all parties. It is crass to suggest otherwise, and it is all politics to the Liberals. The Liberals are all talk, both betraying Albertans and energy workers, while breaking promises to Liberal voters who often have usually supported the Green Party and the NDP.
The Prime Minister claims provinces have a choice. However, there is no choice at all. At the beginning of the debate on the Paris agreement, before any MP had a chance to even say a word, before any provinces were consulted, he declared they must impose the carbon tax or Ottawa will do it for them. His Paris agreement motion included a carbon tax. I opposed, and still oppose, the carbon tax.
Globally, carbon taxes have led to economic disaster. Australia's carbon tax was repealed two years after it was created. What is alarming is that its policy was $24 per metric tonne Canadian. That is roughly only half of what the Liberals are forcing on Canada. About 75,000 businesses paid the carbon tax directly or paid an equivalent penalty of duties and rebates. They almost always passed on part or all of that cost to customers, small businesses, and households, because they had to, hiking prices exponentially as a result.
However, after the economic consequences of that bad policy, Australians defeated the left-leaning government and elected a conservative coalition, which repealed the tax, and created an almost $3 billion fund for industry incentives. Australia's economy is similar to Canada's. As a result of that failed policy, Australia's natural resources became less globally competitive. Canada should heed that example.
Here in Canada, British Columbia's carbon tax is often cited by proponents as ideal. It is not a theoretical debate. It has not reduced emissions. Every year, since 2010, B.C. emissions have increased. B.C.'s carbon tax was also sold as a revenue-neutral way of encouraging British Columbians to drive more fuel-efficient cars, make fewer trips, car pool, or switch to public transit. It was also applied to home heating and electricity in hopes of promoting more energy-efficient insulation and smaller homes, plus more conservation by families. That did not happen. The average Vancouverite's commute is close to 50 minutes one way, and longer than it was when the tax was imposed.
The promised gains never materialized. According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the carbon tax raises nearly $240 million a year, while the Lower Mainland's per litre transit tax raises $320 million from the Vancouver area alone. Even though Vancouver has by far the highest gasoline prices on the continent, there has been no significant reduction in gasoline purchases.
Out of necessity, British Columbians quickly adapted and returned to their old levels of fuel consumption, but with less money for essentials and the ever-rising costs of housing. This broad-based tax on everything increases the price of everything for everyone. It will rise over time, taking $38 billion away from Canadians annually by 2022.
The Liberals must be honest with Canadians. This is not about environmental stewardship. It will not earn social licence from those who are anti-energy or anti-Alberta. It is only about getting more revenue for a government that believes the budget will balance itself, that promised a so-called modest deficit, and has already racked up the largest deficit in Canadian history outside of war or recession. The Liberals started with a surplus, and two years later they are mortgaging the economic future of young Canadians. Their GST on the carbon tax is just another way for them to take even more from hard-working Canadians.
All members should support this bill. The Liberals should stop hiding the details, end this scam, and end this tax on tax.