Albas: National carbon tax could be contentious

The B.C. carbon tax is revenue-neutral…in Alberta a carbon tax will increase the Alberta government’s ability to spend more revenues…

This week the largest concern I am hearing to date is reaction to an announcement from the Prime Minister that the Liberal government may impose a national carbon tax on Canadians.

Already CBC is reporting that the president of WestJet airlines has warned such a tax has the potential to cause serious harm to the aviation industry.

Ultimately this will be a topic for discussion at the Premier’s conference occurring in Whitehorse this week.

My thoughts on a national carbon tax? Without details on how much such a tax could cost Canadians or how it might be implemented and administered it is difficult to fairly assess the impact on taxpayers.

Revenue-neutral—Or not

For example, in British Columbia revenues raised from the B.C. carbon tax are used to lower taxes in other areas—thus, for those who can take advantage by implementing a lower carbon lifestyle, they can save both on paying less in carbon taxes and may also benefit from reduced income taxes as the B.C. carbon tax is revenue-neutral.

However, in Alberta the proposed carbon tax will selectively benefit some citizens, while at the same time, the Alberta government will also retain the discretionary ability to spend carbon tax revenues on government-select pet projects and initiatives. In other words the Alberta carbon tax will increase the Alberta government’s ability to spend more revenues and is not revenue-neutral in the same manner as is the case in British Columbia.

Interprovincial trade barriers

Another concern about a federally imposed national carbon tax is a lack of consistency in policy application. Regular readers of my MP Reports will know that many interprovincial trade barriers remain that the vast majority of Canadians I have heard from would like to see eliminated.

Buying Canadian should truly mean buying Canadian with open provincial borders.

In Ottawa, even though the Conservative, NDP and Green parties all recently voted in support of my motion to potentially help open up inter-provincial trade, the majority Liberal government opposed the motion, arguing a preference for provincial agreement on eliminating trade barriers.

Strangely when it comes to potentially imposing a national carbon tax the Prime Minister takes a different view, suggesting agreement between the provinces may not necessarily be in favour of an Ottawa-imposed tax increase.

Carbon tax on top of fuel excise tax

My final concern on a national carbon tax is one that is rarely mentioned in media circles and that is the fact that the Liberal Government in 1995 introduced a 10 cents-a-litre federal excise tax on automotive fuel.

Add on top of that the federal GST, not to mention various provincial levies that are also buried into the price of gas that continues to increase costs onto Canadians.

My question today to the citizens of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola is: What are your views on a national carbon tax? Is this something you would support and if so would you a have preference in what manner such a tax would be implemented?

As always I welcome your comments, questions and concerns on matters before the House of Commons. I can be reached via email at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.

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