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‘Horgan should scrap carbon tax’

Tripling the carbon tax to $170 per tonne “an expensive punishment on everyday people” says taxpayer federation
A $170 per tonne carbon tax will add 37 cents per litre for gasoline.| Getty Images

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is driving Canadians toward a carbon tax ditch and B.C. Premier John Horgan should grab the wheel.

After promising during the federal election that his government wouldn’t increase the federal carbon tax past $50 per tonne, Trudeau announced that he’s jacking it up to $170 per tonne by the year 2030.

 This isn’t only a broken promise, it’s also a tax that Canadians and British Columbians cannot afford.

Despite imposing the highest carbon tax in the country, Horgan knows the carbon tax is unaffordable. He knows this because he cancelled the scheduled tax hike this past April while Trudeau cranked his federal tax up in Ottawa.

Horgan temporarily increased the carbon tax rebate in B.C. during COVID and gave it to average working people for once. The B.C. carbon tax rebate evaporates when a two-person working family hits an income of $59,000 per year. No rebate is sent to them at all. The median two-person family income in B.C. is more than $84,000 per year, so those everyday working people just pay the tax and never see a nickel of it back.

Horgan knows the carbon tax is an expensive punishment on everyday people who are driving to work and heating their homes and he knows the rebate is meaningless to them. 

He said so back in 2008 when the B.C. Liberal government created the carbon tax. Horgan was in the NDP opposition benches and he railed against it.

“When the carbon tax kicks in three years from now it will be seven cents per litre, what do you think the cost of home heating fuel is going to be at that time?” Horgan said in the legislature. “People in northern parts of British Columbia, people on the wild west coast where the winds blow and the temperatures drop, what’s the cost going to be for those people?”

It costs “those people” a lot and now Horgan is the one at fault.

At $40 per tonne, the B.C. carbon tax costs 8.8 cents on a litre of gasoline, 10.2 cents on a litre of diesel and 7.6 cents per cubic meter of natural gas.

That costs more than $6 extra to fill a minivan, $10 more to fill a pickup truck and an extra $46 to fill a diesel tank for a big rig truck that delivers food and supplies.

On the wild west coast where the winds blow, that B.C. carbon tax on home heating often exceeds the cost of the natural gas.

We’re paying for a failed plan, as emissions are going up in B.C. They’ve gone up 10 per cent in the past three years with increases in five of the last seven years, according to government data. Yet carbon tax money goes into general revenue and the revenue-neutral label has been abandoned.

Horgan knew that the carbon tax would cost everyday working people a lot of money back when it started, and he knows it now. That’s why he paused the hike and briefly boosted the rebate. 

Now, Trudeau is using the example of B.C.’s carbon tax to maul Canadians’ wallets from coast to coast and B.C. won’t be spared. 

The provincial government agreed to the federal backstop and Trudeau has given no indication that B.C. is exempt from his surprise tripling of the tax by 2030.

Trudeau’s $170 per tonne carbon tax will soon cost more than 37 cents per litre for gasoline. That will add an extra cost of $27 every time we fill up a minivan and more than $885 per year to heat a new home with natural gas.

It’s time for Horgan to remember his opposition to the carbon tax and fight back.

- Kris Sims is the B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.