Manitoba 2017 Budget: No Carbon Tax... for now...
On April 11, 2017, the Manitoba government released its 2017/2018 budget. After weeks of speculation and hints that the Manitoba PC government would be introducing a carbon tax, it was a relief to see no such carbon pricing mechanism was introduced by Premier Brian Pallister!
The evidence would suggest that this was an about-turn at the last minute by the Pallister government based on grassroots opposition to carbon taxes by working Manitobans. After all, as of March 3, 2017, Premier Brian Pallister had already said he would be announcing his "classic" carbon tax plan at the end of March of 2017! (According to CBC News: “Pallister, however, has promised the province will develop its own climate change program and deliver it by the end of the first quarter of 2017”.)
So what happened between March 3, 2017 and April 11, 2017 when the provincial budget was released?
1. The Manitoba Government's Carbon Tax Survey
On March 3, 2017, the Manitoba government announced a consultation process for a Made in Manitoba Carbon Tax. Click here to read about the consultation and Premier Pallister's plans to introduce a carbon tax on CBC.ca.
The funny thing about the survey was the lack of a clear question allowing respondents to state whether they even wanted a Justin Trudeau style carbon tax in Manitoba. Instead the survey presumed that a carbon tax was already on its way and focused its questions instead on how respondents thought the money collected by the government from a carbon tax should be used.
Furthermore, the survey was initially supposed to last barely 2 weeks - ending on March 19, 2017.
The Axe the Carbon Tax campaign knew something just didn't seem right.
There was no way the Manitoba government could possibly absorb all the feedback from Manitoba residents in ten business days and then make an intelligent decision whether or not to submit to Justin Trudeau’s demand for a carbon tax in Manitoba.
So, by March 10th, 2017, Axe the Carbon Tax launched an online campaign to make Manitobans aware of the Pallister government's online Carbon Tax Survey.
You can see our original landing page asking Manitobans to take the survey by clicking here.
By March 17, we had made over 50,000 Manitobans aware of the survey on social media and directed over 5,300 Manitobans to the official link of the Carbon Tax Survey.
Then came another surprise announcement - the Manitoba government extended the deadline to complete their online Carbon Tax Survey from March 19 to March 31 (the date that Premier Pallister originally said he would release his carbon tax plan).
Manitoba Sustainable Development Minister Cathy Cox had revealed that “In this short period of time, we’ve received overwhelming interest with nearly 5,000 responses to date.” Click here to read our press release on the extension.
So why did the government extend the time for the survey, doubling the time for the survey from 2 weeks to 4 weeks? By admitting that they received an “overwhelming” number of responses to their survey – presumably more than they were expecting – wouldn’t the number of responses be sufficient enough for them to make an informed decision to take the position that they should be fighting to Axe the Carbon Tax?
The likely scenario is that the Manitoba government had, in effect, granted itself an extension on the survey, presumably to give Carbon Tax supporters time to launch their own campaign, to allow the few Carbon Tax supporters out there time to become aware of the survey.
Luckily, with the help of Manitobans, the Axe the Carbon Tax Campaign did not let up.
By the conclusion of the survey on March 31, Axe the Carbon Tax had directed over 6,300 people to the government Made in Manitoba Carbon Tax Survey!
We may never know what the results were of the government survey - after all, even though none of the questions directly asked whether Manitobans were in favour or opposed to a carbon tax, there is a good chance through our campaign that many of the respondents made it loud and clear that Premier Pallister should Axe the Carbon Tax!
2. The Mainstreet/Postmedia Poll
Following the survey, on April 6, 2017, Mainstreet Research released results of a poll that showed opposition to carbon taxes. Four important findings were:
- 50% of Manitoba respondents to the poll answered that they were opposed a carbon tax versus 38% who answered that they support of one;
- Outside of Winnipeg, opposition to a carbon tax is even greater with 60% of poll respondents answering they were against a carbon tax versus versus 28% who answered in support;
- Only 17% of respondents were aware that in the 2016 election Premier Pallister had promised to bring in a Made in Manitoba Climate Plan that could include a carbon tax (clearly showing that the Manitoba government does not have a mandate to bring in a carbon tax);
- 60% of respondents believed a carbon tax referendum should be held before any carbon tax was introduced (Premier Pallister had campaigned in 2016's Manitoba election on a promise that all major tax increases should first be approved by voters through a referendum).
Perhaps the last two points revealed in the Mainstreet / Postmedia poll are the most noteworthy.
As of February of 2017, carbon tax advocate David McLaughlin, the government's "climate change adviser", was publicly stating at the Manning Conference in Ottawa that the Manitoba government had a "mandate" to impose a carbon tax on taxpayers. McLaughlin was defending this outlandish claim by referencing the fact that buried in the Manitoba PC Party's 2016 campaign platform was a promise to bring in a Made in Manitoba Climate Plan.
Well, the Mainstreet / Postmedia poll made it clear that the Pallister government did not have such a mandate. With only 17% of Manitoban respondents acknowledging that they were aware of the Manitoba PC Party's campaign platform containing any reference to a carbon tax and Premier Pallister not spending much time discussing the point on the campaign trail, it is clear that the voters of Manitoba didn't give the government any such mandate in 2016.
The Mainstreet / Postmedia poll did reveal the real mandate that Manitoba voters had given Premier Pallister in the 2016 election - to hold a referendum before introducing any major tax increase, carbon tax included. In fact, a central theme of the Manitoba PC Party's 2016 election campaign focused on criticizing the NDP for increasing the province's sales tax in 2013 without holding a referendum. The NDP even went so far as to change the law that was on the books that mandated a referendum take place prior to any major tax increase taking place.
Clearly, with 60% of respondents to the Mainstreet / Postmedia poll indicating that a referendum should take place prior to the implementation of a carbon tax and Premier Pallister making this point a central theme in his 2016 election campaign, the real mandate Manitoba voters gave their government in 2016 was to hold a referendum prior to introducing any major tax increase - including a carbon tax.
No Manitoba Carbon Tax...for now
It is encouraging that the Manitoba government's 2017/2018 budget did not include a carbon tax, despite hints from the government to the contrary. Either way, opponents of a carbon tax in Manitoba can't let up.
On April 12, 2017, the Winnipeg Sun reported that carbon tax advocate David McLaughlin had taken a full time position with the government as a "project manager" with the priorities and planning secretariat. Based on Mr. McLaughlin's past public comments it is safe to say that he will be urging the Manitoba government to introduce a carbon tax at some point in time in the future.
In fact, specifically referenced in the Manitoba budget for future consideration is a "made-in-Manitoba climate and green plan" that includes carbon pricing. It is clear that carbon pricing is still on their agenda:
"The Manitoba government is developing a made-in-Manitoba climate and green plan founded on the principle of sustainable development. It will contain policies and priorities on climate, jobs, water and nature. It will seek to leverage our province’s clean, green foundation into an environmental and economic advantage. It will build on our clean energy investments to responsibly and realistically reduce carbon emissions while creating new low-carbon economic opportunities in our province, including carbon pricing."
That is why opponents of a carbon tax in Manitoba cannot let up. While public opposition may have delayed the implementation of a carbon tax it is clearly still on the mind of the Manitoba government.
What we don't know is when that may be.
What we do know is that Premier Pallister can't just sneak a carbon tax past the hard working people of Manitoba without them noticing.
Join the Campaign to Axe the Carbon Tax!
Help us fight the introduction of the predatory carbon tax in Manitoba by joining our campaign and spreading the word.
3. Be an Axe the Carbon Tax advocate by letting your friends and family know!
4. Email Premier Pallister's office at email@example.com or call him at 204-945-3714 and let him know that he should be fighting to Axe the Carbon Tax!