Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and join the debate today. I will be sharing my time with the excellent member of Parliament for Red Deer—Lacombe. I look forward to his speech greatly.
I am from British Columbia, where we have had Canada's first true carbon tax in use for a decade. At the time, the B.C. carbon tax was proposed to be revenue neutral. Taxes raised from the carbon tax would be used to lower other taxes, such as B.C.'s personal, small business, and corporate tax rates. Indeed, for much of the last decade, B.C. has, as a result, had some of the lowest personal income tax rates in most income brackets in Canada. However, that was then and this is now, because now there is a B.C. NDP government, and it has changed the rules, so to speak, so that the revenue-neutral carbon tax has instead become an NDP tax grab.
More importantly, we are now seeing the obvious. Let me quote a headline from The Vancouver Sun from earlier this year: “Latest figures show B.C.'s carbon emissions continue to increase”. The article goes on to point out that the latest data shows B.C.'s carbon emissions at 63.3 million tonnes of carbon equivalent, an increase of 1.6% over the previous year. To be clear, that is an increase, not a decrease.
That is not the only place where the carbon tax is not working. Right next door is Washington State. As we all know, the United States had no national carbon tax. In 2016, Washington State looked at a carbon tax, but it was voted down.
What happens when one of your largest trading partners, who is also one of your biggest competitors, or where most of your biggest competitors are located, does not have a carbon tax? Let us look at the example of the British Columbia cement industry as an example. In 2008, at the time the B.C. carbon tax was introduced, basically 100% of all cement used in British Columbia was manufactured in British Columbia, and why not? Concrete is not exactly a lightweight, inexpensive product to import and then transport from other jurisdictions.
. What happened when B.C.-produced concrete started to become subject to a carbon tax in 2008? That is a great question. It became more expensive. By 2014, B.C.-produced concrete only accounted for roughly 65% of all concrete used in B.C., because cheaper concrete was being imported from jurisdictions with no carbon tax. That is a 35% loss of market share within its own market.
As result, the B.C. government is now providing financial subsidies to the B.C. concrete industry. They actually have a term for this now, and it is called “carbon leakage”.
Here is how “carbon leakage" is defined in the B.C. NDP's 2018 budget document: “Industries that compete with industry in countries that may have low or no carbon price: If Industry loses market share to more polluting competitors, known as carbon leakage, it affects our economy and does not reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.”
This is a flat out admission that a carbon tax is not all that it is made out to be, because it creates carbon leakage. I say that carbon leakage is found in this budget document, because subsidies and exemptions cost everyday taxpayers money. For the average hard-working Canadian family, there is no carbon tax exemption or relief for them. Costs for everyday items will skyrocket, taxes will rise, and life will simply become unaffordable for everyday Canadians. Instead, when the Prime Minister is confronted with the fact that carbon taxes have helped to create some of the highest gasoline and diesel prices in North America, he said that this is “exactly what we want.”
Is it really? I can tell my colleagues that is not what my constituents are saying back in Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola when they fuel up at local gas stations. In fact, they are saying quite the opposite.
I have places in my riding that are not accessible by public transport. Even private transport providers like Greyhound are abandoning some rural communities. Many of these same communities do not have access to renewable energy or even cleaner-burning non-renewables like liquefied natural gas. These people get hit the hardest by a carbon tax.
One gentleman actually showed me his natural gas bill from last month. If my colleagues can believe it, with the latest carbon tax increase, he actually paid more in carbon taxes than he did for the natural gas he used last month.
Let us think about that, paying more in a tax on a commodity than what the commodity actually costs. The current Prime Minister has said that is exactly what he wants.
What is more insulting is that the Liberal government has an environment minister who likes to say “pollution isn't free”. On this side of the House, we say, “Ok, tell us what it will cost Canadians.” The transparent Liberal government refuses to say. The information is redacted. It is being hidden from Canadians who deserve to know.
Basically the Liberal government demands that they pay this Liberal carbon tax but refuses to tell them how much they will have to pay. I am hopeful that the Office of the Information Commissioner, which has now launched an investigation to determine why the data about financial costs of a carbon tax per household is not being released to Canadians, will find out the reason why.
Last week, I asked my constituents why they thought the Liberal government was refusing to release this carbon tax information. The reason they shared with me does not inspire confidence in the Liberal government.
We have a carbon tax that after 10 years in B.C. has still failed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We have a carbon tax that has helped create the most expensive gasoline prices in North America, and living costs continue to rise. We have two problems here.
First, the carbon tax has proven that many industries cannot compete with countries that do not have a carbon tax. Despite the Prime Minister's insistence on his “progressive trade” agenda, it has been a total failure.
How often do we hear about carbon leakage? We do not, because those who promote carbon taxes refuse to talk about carbon leakage. It is an acknowledgement that carbon taxes can harm our economy without reducing pollution. There is no mystery why investment in Canada has declined every year since the Liberal government was elected. Each year it has been in power, it has enacted policies that have increased costs and have made us less competitive as a country. Irresponsible governments sitting on massive amounts of carbon tax revenue love to throw that money around, picking winners and losers.
I should add that the B.C. greenhouse growers have also secured B.C. carbon tax exemptions, not unlike some of Ontario's worst industrial polluters that have also received extensions and exclusions from the Ontario cap-and-trade way of taxing carbon. We all know the more carbon tax increases, the list of greenhouse gas emitters getting carbon leakage subsidies and relief will also continue to rise.
That leads to my second point. We will have a carbon tax that penalizes hard-working Canadian families because they never get exemptions from paying the carbon tax. We all know who pays for those subsidies and handouts. It is those hard-working families that are increasingly struggling to get by because the Liberal government keeps downloading costs onto them.
Environment Canada expects the carbon tax to go even higher. The Liberals are refusing to tell Canadians what it will cost. However, they are completely hiding that they will not stop there. They will continue to increase carbon taxes on Canadians. When either the Prime Minister or the environment minister are asked how much greenhouse gas emissions would be taken out of the environment by a Liberal carbon tax, we all know they will not answer. We should remember that in B.C., after a decade of a carbon tax, greenhouse gas emissions went up and not down.
The price of gasoline, the price to heat our homes, the price to buy groceries and provide food for our families, and the price of everyday goods that Canadians rely on will all go up under this Liberal carbon tax. We must stop increasing costs on Canadians with a failed carbon tax that we have already established is not working. That is why I will be voting in favour of the motion. We need to start addressing the cost of living for Canadians, not making the country unaffordable for them to live here.