Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis.
It has been suggested that an effective response to climate change needs to be scientifically sound, environmentally sustainable, financially realistic, as well as global, comprehensive, and holistic. That may be a little optimistic in that we would not get all of the components in a planned approach in response to climate change, but I would suggest that the Liberals are failing on probably each and every one of these measures as they approach their climate change plan. They are really failing to meet most of these criteria.
As people in the House are aware, the government has introduced Bill C-74, which includes the greenhouse gas pollution pricing act, and talks about it being designed to impact behavioural change. My remarks are going to focus not only on how the specific issues I mentioned earlier would be ineffective but also how many people with the least options are going to be unduly penalized.
First, all Canadians should be very concerned and offended by the lack of transparency on this particular initiative. The Conservative shadow minister for finance has regularly pointed out the carbon tax cover-up. The finance department knows the numbers. The finance department has calculated the numbers in terms of the cost for individuals and families. When it was asked for that information, the government released it, but blacked out all of the information. It really is quite offensive that a government would impose a tax on Canadians and not be transparent about what that tax will actually cost.
I harken back to the election commitments the Liberals made, saying they would be a transparent government by default. On this and many other issues, whether it be the deficit or democratic reform, they are absolutely failing to live up to the commitments they made to Canadians in 2015. I suggest that for any credibility, they should be releasing those numbers and not waiting until months down the road, after they have imposed the tax. This, quite frankly, is wrong.
At the start of my speech, I talked about something that was scientifically sound. What have the Liberals done? They have set a pricing level that would start at $30 and move its way up to $50. The minimum calculation that any scientist makes in terms of being effective is $100, and I have seen some that go as high as $300, as what needs to be the price on carbon to create the behavioural changes the Liberals want to create. They are creating a cost for consumers, but it is not going to have the impact this tax needs to have.
It is important to note that it is being done in isolation from our continental partners. If we recall, China, India, and the U.S. are the major emitters and Canada is less than 2%. We need to be global in our approach. That is in the definition, “global approach”. Here we are, going down a path in which, quite frankly, the Liberals are pricing in a way that would hurt Canadians and not create the desired effect, and they are essentially doing it in isolation from the global major emitters.
The government and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change love to talk about British Columbia, so I will as well. That is the province I am from. They hold it up as a really great model. They have consistently said that. It was introduced in 2008 as a revenue neutral carbon tax, but let me explain what has been happening over the years. In actual fact, I was not upset or concerned when the British Columbia government introduced this revenue neutral carbon tax. It explained it appropriately. I was fortunate that it was not going to create a huge affordability issue for me and my family. The B.C. government was trying its best to offset impacts on those who could not afford it.
The Liberals hold it up as great example because, they say, it brought emissions down. Well, emissions went down across the world in 2008. They went down because we had a global recession. The analysis was that the carbon tax brought emissions down and then the economy recovered, absolutely. If we take a baseline from before, when the economy was ticking along quite nicely in 2007 and 2008, and then we had a global recession, we would have a significant drop in emissions. Ultimately Canada had a good recovery.
The Liberals also like to say that emissions dropped and the GDP did well. They love to compare it to Ontario, but Ontario was suffering the highest electricity prices and manufacturing was fleeing. They never actually compare it to provinces that had a similar type of economy, such as Saskatchewan and Alberta, and if we look at the economic growth in those two provinces, it was significantly more than British Columbia's economic growth. We cannot take gross measures and hope to be precise in what the impact of the actual carbon tax was, because there were so many things that were happening throughout that time period.
What was a revenue-neutral carbon tax started to drift. There was a solid commitment to the citizens of British Columbia that every penny the government took in carbon taxes would be returned to them. What happened in 2013-14 was that the Auditor General started to review and saw that what was initially revenue neutral was turning into other things. The B.C. government started to include many things that really were inappropriately included to suggest it was revenue neutral, but in actual fact it was drifting quite significantly from revenue neutrality.
I have to talk about the NDP in British Columbia, because it campaigned on “axe the tax”. It said it would axe the tax, that it would be gone. The NDP finally became government in 2017, and the first thing it did was to take away the revenue neutrality from the carbon tax. It actually legislated away revenue neutrality and then increased the tax. What was a well-designed, reasonable approach quickly became a cash grab under the control of the NDP government. It was general revenue for the government to use for whatever it wanted.
As a result, members will forgive me for being a little cynical about anyone who lauds the British Columbia tax as a great revenue-neutral model. I know the same thing could happen across the country in all the other provinces as they implement this imposed federal tax. It demonstrates how a commitment to revenue neutrality can quickly be reneged on, and there is nothing that will stop the federal government from doing the same thing.
The north is going to be the area most impacted by these changes. It has very limited density. In many cases, people rely on diesel fuel, and the north has extra costs associated with its mining. It is going to be significantly impacted.
The northern premiers signed on in good faith, with the understanding that the government would look at their particular and unique circumstances. What has happened? What does the bill the government has introduced do for the north? It has done nothing. The Liberals looked at a baseline for mining emissions and actually based it on a southern model, so what is going to happen is that mines in the north will be more significantly impacted than any others.
What we see here is that the government has introduced a measure that is going to be ineffective in meeting its goal. It has provided no accommodation for people who live in the north and in rural communities. It is really important that the Liberal government gets into its own areas of jurisdiction. It has policy levers it can use to meet reduction targets and meet its Paris targets. However, quite simply, what the government is doing is going to be a failure on way too many measures.