New carbon tax is a bad idea
The madness of the U.S. presidential election continues, with every passing day bringing out a new and previously unimagined low point. In the midst of the madness, though, it’s worth occasionally pausing and taking a look at the policy ideas that the candidates are proposing. These ideas are ultimately what Americans — and, in a significant sense, Canadians — will have to live with.
I was interested to read Hillary Clinton’s recently-released plan for combatting climate change and, in her words, “making America the clean energy superpower of the 21st century.” There are a lot of different ideas in her plan — awarding grants to encourage cleaner power, making more energy-efficient buildings and making corresponding changes to building codes, encouraging better transportation, increasing research investment in “advanced” nuclear and carbon capture and sequestration, extending regulations on vehicle emissions, etc.
All interesting ideas, but notably, she makes no proposal for a carbon tax. Her emphasis on intensity regulations, innovation, efficiency, and on working with the industry through things like carbon capture and sequestration, is pretty similar to the approach taken by our previous federal and provincial governments, as well as by the government of Saskatchewan: again, no carbon tax.
This certainly isn’t an endorsement of Clinton’s energy policy. Clinton’s official public opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline is obviously quite concerning, and not everyone who has tried to implement a carbon tax has mentioned it when initially running for office. But it is still interesting to see how the standard bearer for the American left seems to be of a similar mind with Canadian conservatives on the issue of carbon taxes. While carbon taxes might raise revenue for government, they are not the most effective way of responding to environmental challenges.
According to Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, our prime minister told him that, “Canada needed to impose his carbon tax because our trading partners were demanding it.” That, however, does not seem to be the case. In fact, neither presidential candidate supports carbon taxes.
It is quite important, from a Canadian job-creation standpoint, that we pay close attention to the American approach on the environment and that we don’t put ourselves in a situation where we are making Canada uncompetitive. The imposition of carbon taxes in Canada and not in the United States will make it much harder for Canadian businesses to compete with their American counterparts.
Clinton’s proposal is ostensibly to work with industry to encourage more efficient production, rather than (at least in this respect) imposing new taxes. As such, the U.S. stands to get far more of any potential growth in ‘green jobs.’ Under these circumstances, our carbon tax will kill Canadian jobs by sending them over the border.
We can work together with the United States to improve our shared environment without undercutting our economic competitiveness. I hope that our government will be prepared to work together with the next American administration, rather than going it alone with new taxes that will only hurt our economy.
Garnett Genuis is the member of Parliament for Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 780-467-4944. His office is located in the Park Place Professional Centre, Unit No. 214. Genuis was first elected in October 2015.
Published: Thursday, October 20, 2016