Terminating Ontario’s cap-and-trade carbon tax

By MPP Toby Barrett

Ontario’s carbon tax era is over. Cancelling cap-and-trade is not only the right thing to do; it is also an important step to saving money on fuel and kick starting the economy.

Under the previous government, Kathleen Wynne’s cap-and-trade carbon tax made Ontario unaffordable and uncompetitive, and added 4.3 cents per litre to the cost of gasoline. Provincial government legislation, to bring end to the tax, will help Ontario to become once again the economic engine of Canada.

The Ontario government was elected on a clear mandate: to put people first and make life more affordable for families. Eliminating the cap and trade carbon tax will save the average family $260 each year.

We understand the seriousness of climate change, but we do not believe the solution is a regressive tax – a punishing tax that forces poor and middle-class Ontario families to pay more for necessities like heating their homes or fuelling their vehicles. It’s a job-killing tax imposing new costs on business and suffocating our economy during these uncertain times.

Over this summer, we passed provincial legislation to lower the cost of gasoline by 4.5 cents a litre and diesel by 5.5 cents a litre. Further, as of October, we will see an annual household savings on natural gas bills of $70 a year.

We’re launching our own challenge of the federal carbon tax in the Ontario Court of Appeal – a challenge we can win. This announcement was made a few short weeks after the Premier announced Ontario would also be participating in Saskatchewan’s challenge in its Court of Appeal. This summer I had an opportunity to rise in the House, during question period, to ask Ontario’s Attorney General to explain the rationale for being involved in two legal challenges.

As Attorney General, Caroline Mulroney clarified: “Ontario is working cooperatively with Saskatchewan to ensure that both provinces’ references proceed as efficiently and as affordably as possible.” She continued to explain this partnership will allow for a broad consideration of all possible arguments regarding the validity of the federal carbon tax. “Anywhere the federal carbon tax is being constitutionally challenged, we want to be a part of that fight,” she said.

The Ontario Court of Appeal will rule on whether or not the federal carbon tax is unconstitutional in whole or part. The Attorney General will be conducting this challenge using in-house lawyers, which will reduce the associated costs significantly.

The legislation also includes provisions that would allow for the continuation of Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions reporting program and establish targets to reduce emissions in the province. The regulation requires the government to make the reduction targets available to the public. It will also see our government prepare a new climate change plan — a made-in-Ontario solution that addresses our challenges.

Make no mistake — the people of Ontario have done a lot. Our riding of Haldimand-Norfolk has done a lot, taking a big hit for the team when the previous government shut down Nanticoke – one of the world’s largest coal-fired generating stations and significant economic driver in our area.

There is still much to be done.  We continue to take measures to protect people and promote prosperity.

We are moving past the previous government’s obsession with raising taxes. Instead, we are developing an environmental plan that will work.

Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk