Liberal caucus still actively considering a carbon tax for Ontario

August 24, 2012

QUEEN’S PARK — Liberal MPP Phil McNeely’s comments about imposing a needless carbon tax on hardworking Ontarians further proves members of the Liberal government haven’t fully abandoned their reckless economic plan to increase the price of virtually everything in the province, PC Environment Critic and Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris said today.

“Ontarians want a serious plan to get our economy working again, not failed economic theories touted by Stephane Dion, the disgraced leader of the federal Liberals who oversaw the party’s demise in 2008,” Harris said. “Still, a number of provincial Liberals, including Mr. McNeely, Dave Levac, Glen Murray and Kitchener-Waterloo candidate Eric Davis, favour a carbon tax, which would increase the price of everyday essentials, like gas, groceries and hydro.”

McNeely’s comments show the Liberals continue to actively discuss the option of a carbon tax, just as they were preceding last year’s election.

In September 2011, Liberal MPP Dave Levac said on a live chat with the Brantford Expositor that a carbon tax is “being reviewed and some of my colleagues are more enthusiastic for it than others,” adding that Ontarians could be paying a carbon tax within the next four years. Eric Davis, who’s running for the Liberals in Kitchener-Waterloo, voiced his strong support for a carbon tax, calling it an “innovative environmental proposal” and an idea that would “greatly benefit Canada.”

On July 23, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan told the Estimates Committee the Liberal government had rejected a carbon tax, but clearly McNeely’s comments signal the debate hasn’t been settled. In fact, McNeely told the Ottawa media the Liberals should forge ahead with a carbon tax, but can’t because minority government status has put them in “difficult position” to talk about the issue.

“The finance minister may have said his government doesn’t support a carbon tax, but we all know what happened when Dalton McGuinty promised not to introduce new taxes: We got blindsided with the health tax, HST and eco-fees,” Harris said. “To me, seeing Liberal MPPs like Mr. McNeely still advocating for radical Liberal economic theories is a much clearer indication of what the Liberal government would do if it had a majority.”

A carbon tax would be in addition to the Liberal government’s plan to implement a job-killing cap-and-trade scheme, which caps the amount of greenhouse gases certain industries can emit and creates an emissions-trading market.

In April, the Environment Minister confirmed in writing the Liberal government is forging ahead with a cap-and-trade scheme built on an amendment to the Environmental Protection Act the Liberals passed in 2009 to enable an emissions-trading market, and on Regulation 452/09.