The Green Shift is, of course, Stéphane Dion’s plan for placing a tax on carbon-based energy while using a portion of the taxes raised to cut income and corporate taxes.
Stéphane Dion began his campaign with his Carbon Tax/Green Shift as the central plank in his Liberal Party’s platform. Then, when he could not sell the new tax to Canadians, he shifted course and began promising billions of dollars in spending programs and saying almost nothing about the Carbon Tax. But, when his platform was publicly released, there the Carbon Tax was again at its centre.
In the past week or so, Dion’s two most senior lieutenants, Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae, with increasing global economic uncertainty, began to waffle in public regarding the timing of a Carbon Tax implementation.
Now, in a bizarre turn of events, Dion says his government might sacrifice virtually all spending programs that he has pledged during the course of the campaign—such as child care, more doctors and nurses, and a catastrophic drug program—so as not to delay the start of the Green Shift and the imposition of controversial new taxes that are scheduled to raise some $40 billion over four years.
“We may have to slow down the pace of investments we wanted to make in the first two years ... we will catch up in the last years of our mandate,” Dion said.
Dion stubbornly uses European countries as his model for the imposition of a Carbon Tax, ignoring the significant factual differences that exist between them and Canada.
And Dion repeatedly misleads Canadians with his claim that similar taxes have been successful in these countries. This is simply not the case. The results in Europe have been uneven to say the least.
Since about 1991, carbon tax in one form or other has been implemented in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, Italy, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. However, I cannot find evidence that indicates the tax has led to large declines in carbon dioxide emissions in most of these countries. In fact, in the case of Norway, emissions have actually increased by 43 percent per capita.
Denmark is one country in which carbon taxes have led to a large decrease in emissions—per capita carbon dioxide emissions were nearly 15 percent lower in 2005 than in 1990.
But Canada is quite different than Denmark and I believe it is far too risky to be implementing a new tax experiment at a time like this.
Take, for example, British Columbia which implemented a similar tax earlier this year. The result has become a confusing mix of policies and propaganda, to the point now where the unpopularity of B.C.’s carbon tax is apparent in the polls and has helped the opposition NDP increase its support above the ruling Liberals for the first time in years.
The rest of our country should sit up and take note.