This is going to be a semi-long, detailed blog style post with my thoughts on the Canadian Federal Carbon tax, slightly combined with a discussion on the Federal EV (Electric Vehicle) tax credit. For the record I actually care deeply about the environment and believe humankind has to do more to protect planet Earth, however I also believe there are such things as bad policy and bad ideas, and the federal Carbon Tax is one of these badly thought out ideas.
So getting into it: my #1 issue with the Carbon Tax is that it really only benefits rich/well off people or people in cities, and essentially becomes a punitive tax on poorer/working class people, or people from more rural areas.
The fact is that in Canada, unless you live in metro Toronto, Montreal, or possibly Vancouver, transit sucks and you need a personal vehicle to get anywhere efficiently. I’ll give you my current experience as an example: I’m currently living in Acton, which is on the outskirts of the GTA and the transit system doesn’t work for me. I need to make it to the city for my 6:30am work start time, and the first GO bus of the day leaving from Acton arrives in Toronto at 6:32am… that is an un-resolvable problem I have with the transit system, and the situation only gets worse as you go further out from the major cities. I must operate a vehicle for this reason, and also because my work isn’t at a fixed location. Therefore, I need a dependable mode of transit to get where I need to go when there is a location change.
My vehicle uses gas; it’s not a gas guzzling Hummer or a Escalade, but I have to ‘pay a price for pollution,’ apparently. That’s an easy word sandwich for someone who lives in a major city or who’s well off to throw at me. That person could take advantage of semi-effective public transit, but Me: I’m only in the position of having to shut up and take the environmental lecturing forever into the near future.
I’m a young, working person. I don’t have a family yet, so I will not get the full $300.00 rebate which is one of the positive aspects of the tax the Liberals highlight. I’ll get something, but it won’t be much. Anyone with less that 4 kids living at home, you will not receive $300.00 back. If you believe that, I’m sorry to burst your bubble.
Frankly though, I like the idea of getting an electric car. Probably my next car will be electric. Currently, there are federal grants available for buying full electric or hybrid cars. The problem is these cars are horribly overpriced. Even with these grants, every single EV/Hybrid on the market is totally out of my price range. Could any poorer person than me or a young person starting into their career realistically look at purchasing an electric vehicle at this point in time? In most cases, no. Could a richer/well off person take advantage of the grants, though? Of course they could, and I dislike that dynamic.
Again, I am forced to shut up and listen to one-sided, environmental lectures about how I am not doing my bit to save the planet, meanwhile money is being taken from me in the form of the Carbon Tax and being reallocated to, in all likelihood, buying a wealthier person’s luxury, electric vehicle. I cannot lie to you: being aware of this makes my blood boil.
Additionally on the subject of electric cars, that’s essentially all that are available: luxury type cars. I know trucks are on their way, but easily affordable electric trucks just aren’t here yet. Let’s not pretend they are.
Work vans also aren’t here yet and while there are some hybrid mini-vans, again, these are stupidly overpriced at the moment. The Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivan is starting at $50,000.00+. Are we going to pretend like the average family has that kind of money to throw around? They do not.
Taken in this way, I can’t see the Carbon Tax as anything but mean-spirited, and coming close to being a kind of class warfare where rich/city dwellers are able to reap benefits and feel good about their role in protecting the environment, meanwhile sneering at/lecturing the poor/rural/working class about how they are dirty polluters, meanwhile forcing them to carry the tax burden.
Do not misunderstand what I’m saying: I believe electric cars will replace gas-powered cars sometime in the future, but this will happen due to demand: people will want to buy electric cars. The prices on these vehicles must come down of course and they will at some point, but that will have nothing to do with punitive taxes, such as the current Carbon Tax.
Another thing not to misunderstand about what I’m saying: is the carbon tax really that much? No it’s not. Right now it’s something like 3 – 4 cents per litre, although that will increase soon to something like 10 – 11 cents.
What I’m talking about here is the principle behind this tax. There is no way to avoid the fact that this is a punitive tax. Throughout history punitive taxes have proven to be ineffective at achieving what they claim to be aiming for, and they also demonstrate a bad understanding of how economics works. Think of what happened when the United States banned alcohol sales: people still wanted alcohol, and a black market was created. A similar result occurred with banning Marijuana. Gas is arguably more important to people’s lives than marjjuana and alcohol, so what do people think will happen in the case of gasoline? I guarantee to you, the result won’t be surprising, and will probably create some kind of black market force.
But even if today it’s not a huge tax, just as in the case of the unjust bans on alcohol and marijuana, it is vitally important for people to challenge unfair and unjust laws or taxes. If lawmakers get the impression that this was a popular/successful law, they might pass more laws or grow on ones that already exist, continuing the cycle and making the situation worse.
I’m including the link here to Justin’s gas tax because you don’t have to take my word or anyone else’s word on a certain policy for granted, although I’ve done my best here to honestly represent my opinions, and not be dishonest about what the Carbon Tax is. I have read through it and broadly speaking I feel like I can talk about it with confidence. Feel free to read it if you want more specific knowledge about the tax: https://www.canada.ca/…/pricing-pollution-how-…/ontario.html
Also, here’s the link to the federal grants program on buying EV’s: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/…/el…/electric-vehicle-rebate.shtml
Thanks if you read this whole thing. The Carbon Tax is something I’ve had a problem with for months now, but it’s taken me think of exactly what bothers me about it, and also how to write my ideas out clearly.