Doug Ford gets sworn in a Premier of Ontario today and that is about to change everything in this country. Politically speaking.
From federal provincial relations to the plan to bring in a national carbon tax and even the 2019 federal election, Ford is a game change.
Justin Trudeau’s campaign through Ontario in the next federal election may have him sounding like the Buckley’s guy. Trudeau will be trying to convince voters that a carbon tax tastes awful but it works.
The PM will definitely have his work cut out for him.
In Ontario’s recently-concluded provincial election, cancelling Kathleen Wynne’s cap and trade program was a popular promise with voters. Wynne had teamed up Ontario with California and Quebec in a carbon trading scheme that saw billions charged to industry and then hundreds of millions sent to California to buy “carbon credits.”
Doug gives and Justin takes away.
When Doug Ford announced that his first order of business would be to cancel this plan, Trudeau and his team were quick to respond.
Trudeau’s team says if Ontario won’t put a “price on carbon” then they will impose a federal carbon tax on the province.
“The federal government’s jurisdiction on this matter is clear,” read a statement from Environment Minister Catherine McKenna’s office.
Well that is yet to be determined by a court and Doug Ford has promised to challenge the Liberals on this.
These legal fights between governments can often take years but the 2019 election campaign will be underway by this time next year. Would you want to be one of the 80 Liberal MPs from Ontario seeking re-election by telling voters your plan is to make life more expensive for them?
What will it cost?
The government won’t release their studies on what a carbon tax will cost the average Canadian family. Likely because they don’t want to scare people.
Independent estimates that I’ve looked at range from $707 to $2,569 per year for Ontario residents.
Whether you are looking at the low end or the high end, what politician wants to show up at a voter’s door and declare, “Vote for me, I’ll cost you an extra $700 a year, minimum.”
Dr. Jennifer Winter, an assistant professor in economics came up with the $707 figure for what she describes as “a typical household.”
Looking at consumption patterns, Winter estimates that at $50 a tonne the federal carbon tax would cost the typical Ontario household an extra $28 a year for electricity, $231 for home heating, $238 for driving costs and $210 in indirect costs.
Total, $707 a year.
That is while the carbon tax stays at $50 a tonne.
The cost will only rise.
Most carbon tax advocates say that to have a real impact the tax needs to be set much higher.
McKenna’s own department is on the record advocating for a $300 per tonne carbon tax to help Canada meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets.
Are you up for an annual tax increase of $4,242?
That’s for the typical household, you’ll pay more if you have a large family.
I don’t know too many people that want to pay an extra $700 a year in taxes, never mind the $2,569 estimated by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
Yet this will be the fight in Ontario. A provincial government that wants to make life more affordable and a federal government that will push the cost of living even higher.
There is the possibility of the feds refunding all that money to Ontario residents in quarterly payments, but would a cheque every three months really offset the cost of gas, food, clothing and everything else going up?
A cheque every few months won’t stop people getting mad at driving past the gas station daily with higher prices or paying more for fresh produce, clothes and just about everything else.
Voters want life to be more, not less affordable.
A survey of Ontario voters conducted by Navigator just after the election found that the top three reasons voters backed the PCs were the promise of lowering gas taxes, lowering hydro rates and lowering the overall tax burden. Trudeau will be raising all of those back up if he follows through.
Fighting the governments of Saskatchewan, and possibly Alberta, on this was always going to be easy for Trudeau. At most he would lose 4 seats in those provinces if voters revolted. In Ontario, 80 Liberal seats are at risk.
Doug Ford’s victory in Ontario and his promise to immediately withdraw from cap and trade changes the equation for the prime minister and changes the direction of next year’s election.