Dear Justin, we both agree...
October 13, 2016
Note the date - October 13, 2016 - just 10 days after Justin Trudeau told the premiers he's going to try and force a carbon tax on the provinces.
Rt. Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
House of Commons
Rt. Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,
We both agree that climate change is a serious problem that needs true political leadership.
We know we are off to a bad start when a "conservative" leader opens his letter to Justin Trudeau with the words "We both agree..."
That is why, last March in Ottawa, I made it clear that the Ontario PC Caucus supports putting a revenue neutral price on carbon to protect our environment today without hurting our fragile economy.
Brown volunteered to bring in a carbon tax 6 months before Trudeau suggested he'd try to force it on the provinces. And when exactly did the Ontario PC Caucus decide to support a carbon tax?
Recently, you announced a similar policy. You acknowledged that any carbon price at the federal level must be revenue neutral, with all of the money returned to the province from which it came. I agree. But we can do better.
"Revenue neutral" for a level of government is NOT the same thing as "revenue neutral" for individual taxpayers.
A revenue neutral carbon price at the provincial level is better. It will not only result in emissions reductions, but will give money back to taxpayers. However, the Ontario Wynne Government is refusing to give the money back to taxpayers.
The evidence is clear - a direct carbon tax does NOT reduce emissions. "Give money back to taxpayers" is code for wealth redistribution - Brown plans to steal from the poor and middle class who will pay for his direct carbon tax and "give the money back" in the form of corporate welfare.
Will you publicly support the principle that any revenue collected from a carbon pricing scheme within a province be returned directly to the taxpayers of that province?
Secondly, I have grave concerns that the cap and trade plan endorsed by Premier Wynne's Government does not have Ontario's best interests at heart. Cap and trade will force Ontario businesses to send more than $300 million by 2020 to California to purchase carbon allowances. That number will escalate to nearly $3 billion by 2030. That money should be re-invested in Ontario by businesses to fight climate change and create jobs.
The Globe and Mail reported that "a straight carbon tax of the kind advocated by provincial Opposition Leader Patrick Brown would have to be roughly" 4 times more expensive than Kathleen Wynne's "cap and trade" carbon tax. Note the reference to "money that should be re-invested in Ontario by businesses to ... create jobs" - code for corporate welfare.
Worst of all, Ontario's environment will not be better off. Cap and trade will see Ontario take credit for nearly 15 megatonnes of emissions reductions that occur 4,000 kilometers away. Polluters in Ontario should pay to fight climate change, not to subsidize the California economy.
Therefore, I ask that you remove cap and trade as an eligible carbon pricing system for the province of Ontario so we can keep our economy competitive and actually protect our environment for generations to come.
Patrick Brown, MPP
Leader of the Official Opposition
Brown ends his letter with the same deceitful justification he started it on - first, that the Patrick Brown carbon tax can be implemented "without hurting our economy" and then, that his carbon tax can "keep our economy competitive". Brown also says that Trudeau's trampling on provincial jurisdiction doesn't go far enough! He pleads with Trudeau to force on the provinces the more expensive direct carbon tax over the "cap-and-trade" carbon tax. Unlike Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, Patrick Brown is happy to concede all provincial jurisdiction to Justin Trudeau on the matter.