Christine Van Geyn, Ontario Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, spoke at Americans for Tax Reform’s anti-carbon-tax press conference on July 25. 

In her remarks, she detailed the Canadian voters’ backlash to a carbon tax and offered three lessons Americans should learn from Canada’s carbon tax failure:

“Our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is threatening to impose a federal, or national carbon tax on all the provinces that don’t currently have one. Right now we have four that do and six that don’t.

But of the four that do have the carbon taxes, one, Ontario is the process of withdrawing their carbon tax right now, and the other, Alberta, is almost certain to do the same next year. Of the six that don’t have carbon taxes, five are opposed to the federal plan.

So it’s safe to say carbon taxes are not popular in Canada. Like most of the world it’s a policy that governments are moving away from not towards. Frankly, carbon taxes as a policy are a fad and they’re a dated fad. Their time has passed.

I do think that based on the legislation introduced by Congressman Curbelo today there are some lessons my American friends can learn from their friends in Canada.

First, is that carbon taxes are sure election losers. Ontario’s Premier imposed a cap-and-trade carbon tax that took effect in January 2017.

Two months later after it took effect, her popularity was at an all-time low of 12 percent. She lost the most recent election in pretty spectacular fashion. She conceded defeat a week before the vote. She went from a majority government of 55 members to a caucus that can fit in a minivan, so this did not go well. It was the biggest issue in the provincial election.

The conservative opposition in Ontario, when they were choosing who their leader would be, the four leadership contestants all fought to position themselves as the most opposed to the Ontario carbon tax.

All four rushed to sign a public pledge with our organization committing them to repealing the carbon tax and to challenging the constitutionality of Justin Trudeau’s nationally imposed carbon tax.

This story is playing out the same way in Alberta. In that province, in 2017, the far-left government of that province, the carbon tax took effect.

The government there is deeply unpopular, there’s about a 20 point lead that the opposition has over the government right now largely due to the issue of the carbon tax. The opposition, who’s almost certain to form the government by early next year, their leader signed the same pledge with our organization committing, if he’s elected, he will repeal the carbon tax in that province within 100 days of forming government.

Other provinces are also scrambling to make sure they are on the right side of this issue. Once in favour of a “made-in-Manitoba” carbon tax, the Manitoba government has come to realize how unpopular the policy is and they are now suing the federal government in court over their ability to impose a national carbon tax.

The liberal governments of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador are all lining up in apparent opposition to the carbon tax.

With only three provinces supporting the policy, very little public or political support for the Prime Minister’s position, the carbon tax in Canada is all but dead before it’s even come into effect nationally.

The second thing our American friends can learn from our experience in Canada is that carbon taxes hurt the economy while providing very little benefit to the environment if any at all. In Ontario the cap-and-trade carbon tax cost our economy $2.9 billion between January 2017 and June 2018.

That money was plowed into special interest projects, like subsidies for people buying $100,000 Teslas.

The result is a damage to the economy with very little impact on the environment. Even if the carbon tax had been $100 per tonne in Ontario as opposed to the approximately $20 per ton we had – Canada, or Ontario, would still not have met their greenhouse gas emission targets.

In fact, a study by the Montreal Economic Institute found that in order to meet those targets the carbon tax would have to be $368 per tonne rather than $20 per tonne. So this is the direction that carbon-tax-pushing politicians are taking us.

The real result of a tax like that would be businesses closing and relocating – and in fact, that already happened when the tax was $20 per tonne, let alone $368  per tonne. There is no environmental gain to be seen from carbon taxes unless our politicians are willing to inflict incredible and extreme pain on our economy.

Finally friends, I’d like to issue a warning against so called conservative proponents of carbon taxes, because we have those in Canada too and they don’t succeed.

More often than not, positions by conservatives in favor of carbon tax are cooked up by pollsters or marketing specialists as a strategic and political play. They’re an act of self-interest not policy. They’re an exercise in branding, designed to differentiate a politician against their opponent or inoculate them against claims that they’re some kind of right-wing extremist.

Lacking creativity on environmental policy is not an excuse to impose a damaging tax on hardworking families. It hasn’t worked for the conservatives who tried it in Canada. Voters reject the carbon at every opportunity.

You’ll note that in his remarks today, Congressman Curbelo talked about all of the people he had consulted with when proposing this. He talked to environmental groups, he talked to economists, he talked to other politicians, but nowhere did he mention talking to the people who would be paying this tax – the taxpayers.

I hope these lessons resonate with the American audience before this foolish policy goes any further.”

Learn more about the Candadian Taxpayers Federation here.

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