Madam Speaker, it is great to be here to talk about the carbon tax. I come from Saskatchewan where this is a very controversial issue. Of course, everybody in this House is aware of the Saskatchewan government taking the government to court, based on the fact that the federal government has no jurisdiction to impose a tax like a carbon tax on the people of Saskatchewan.
The questions here are very clear, and there is something that has to be defined. Are the Liberals proposing this tax because they really care about reducing greenhouse gases and carbon, or is this tax being proposed just for that reason, that it is a way to tax people to get more money into the government coffers so that the government can spend it as it sees fit? I think the latter is true. The reality is that when we start looking at the carbon tax and on the Liberals' climate strategy to meet our Paris commitments, there is a proposal out of Saskatchewan that would actually meet those emissions targets, that would actually allow us to move forward without having a carbon tax.
There are provinces in Canada that actually meet their targets already. Why are we forcing them to have a carbon tax? Why would we not be embracing them? Why would we not say that is great they are not going to make their families pay all that money, that they actually found a way to meet their targets without doing that? One would think the government would embrace that, if that was truly the goal, to reduce emissions and really reduce carbon. One would think that the government would not want to do harm to the economy, similar to the harm it did in Ontario, and the harm that it wants to transfer to the rest of Canada.
I find it frustrating. The government should be looking at new technologies coming on stream, such as the use of carbon sequestration in Estevan in coal-fired power plants. That technology in those plants uses five times less greenhouse gases than natural gas. The government's reaction to that is to shut down coal. “Shut it down. We do not want it.” Why would the government not want it, if it is five times cleaner than natural gas? Is the government saying it is going to shut down the natural gas ones too? Is that the Liberals' goal? What will we do to heat our houses? How are we going to do our manufacturing processes?
Do not be ridiculous. This is not a reasonable solution. The government can embrace new technologies and meet its emission targets. That has been proven in Saskatchewan. However, what did the government do to Saskatchewan? There has been a loss of $60 million in transfers. The government put $110 million in the budget for carbon costs, and then the Liberals say it is revenue neutral. How can it be revenue neutral when they are already spending $110 million in carbon costs? It does not make sense.
Saskatchewan is an exporting province. We grow food. We have forestry products. We manufacture goods that we ship around the world. We have to be competitive on the global platform. Our prices and our cost structures have to be such that we can compete around the world. We know that if we bring in a carbon tax it takes that competitiveness away.
In the market, for example, selling wheat, I cannot price in a carbon tax. I cannot pass that on. I have to take the world price. Therefore, that is direct cost for me and my operation that my competitors in Australia and the U.S. do not have. In fact, Australia used to have a carbon tax and it was so bad that it got rid of it. Why did the Australians get rid of it? It was killing their economy. It was ruining their competitiveness, and it was not reducing their emissions. It was not getting the effect they thought it would have. Why would we go down the same path and not learn from Australia? Why would we not learn from other jurisdictions that looked at this and said, “No, this is crazy”?
The Liberals think that they know best. They have been telling us that for years. When the Liberals are in government they tell the west, “We know best. You are going to do it our way and, by the way, your ideas are stupid,” even though they are way better. That is what we are facing in western Canada and that is what we are facing from the government here. It is really frustrating.
The other thing I find really interesting when we talk to different companies and different committees is that we have companies, steel companies for example, that are meeting the highest regulations and emitting the lowest amounts of pollution, but they are shutting down because of the carbon tax and regulations that the federal government has brought in, and the Liberal provincial government in Ontario has brought in. They are shutting them down. What are they being replaced with? Companies in China, India, and other countries where these types of regulations are not in place and where they could not care two hoots about the environment.
We looked at that. Does it make sense that we have a wonderful facility here in Canada paying Canadians but we are going to shut it down, force it out of business, so that we can go get our products from somewhere else that does not care about the environment? That is what is happening when we embrace these types of policies.
Every organization, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the CME, we can talk to a variety of them and their biggest concern right now with the government in power is competitiveness, their ability to compete around the world on a platform that is equal or level to everywhere else. It is really frustrating when we try to sign trade deals to level the playing field on the tariffs and regulations and our guys come back and say that because of the carbon tax and other taxes imposed on them which their competitors do not have it will be tough for them to compete now. The Liberals did that in two years. They should take a step back and look at what they are doing. Who is going to work in Canada?
We had this situation in Saskatchewan under an NDP government. What happened is our best and brightest left. Where did they go? They went to Alberta. I know the guys from Alberta would thank us very much, because a lot of the leaders in Alberta, in the universities and businesses, come from Saskatchewan. What changed that was embracing the business community in Saskatchewan. It was Brad Wall saying that he wanted them to stay in Saskatchewan, that they could run an operation and be competitive on a global stage in Saskatchewan, and have a great quality of life. We have that. We continued doing that, and we achieved all of our goals when it comes to climate change doing it our way. What did Ottawa respond with? A loss of $60 million in transfer payments, $110 million in carbon costs, and a fight in the courts. The disrespect the Liberal government has shown our province is unimaginable. Then the Liberals wonder why people do not love them. It is truly amazing.
I was at the Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance conference. One of the issues that was brought up was the amount of traffic going across the line to the U.S. so people could fill up their gas tanks. The concern it is raising is that right now on a tank of gas, which let us say is 60 litres, one saves about $24 per tank by leaving Ontario to go across the line to get gas. Once the carbon tax is implemented to the higher levels, it will be $34. It is a problem because the lanes at the border are filling up with more cars which have to be processed.
Do the Liberals not see what is happening? Can they not understand that? We will become uncompetitive. They have noble goals but have gone about them in the wrong way. By doing that, they will force Canadians out of work. They will kill our business community. Why is that a good thing?
I come back to the question: Are the Liberals doing this because they want to lower emissions or because they want more taxes? If they wanted to lower emissions, they would embrace the plan in Saskatchewan or the plan in New Brunswick, but they are not. What are they doing? They are imposing taxes on them because they need the dollars. They want to decide who gets what. They want to be the kingmakers. That is just wrong.
Let the market decide. The market will decide as long as we give the players a fair and level playing field. If we trust the market, it will take care of us. However, the Liberals do not trust anybody. Because of what they will do to our economy with their ideas, it is truly a sad day. If they listened a little, it would be a lot better.