CTF continues fight against Québec’s ‘special deal' on the carbon tax

As of July 1, every province and territory except Québec pays a carbon tax of 14 cents per litre of gas.

CTF continues fight against Québec’s ‘special deal' on the carbon tax
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The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) renewed its challenge of the 'fundamentally unfair' carbon tax as Québec continues to pay less than the rest of Canada. 

"The math is simple: Trudeau is forcing drivers in every other province and territory to pay 14 cents per litre of gas in carbon taxes, while Québecers pay 10 cents per litre," said Federal CTF Director Franco Terrazzano.

According to a government briefing, the federal government is committed to ensuring carbon pricing is in place across Canada "at a similar level." However, every province and territory except Québec pays a carbon tax of 14 cents per litre of gas as of July 1.

"Trudeau should scrap his carbon taxes and make life more affordable for all Canadians," claimed Terrazzano.

According to the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO), the typical Albertan household will lose $2,773 annually from the carbon tax in 2030. Its upper quintile will pay $7,402 after accounting for the carbon rebate that year — the highest cost nationwide.

The carbon tax currently costs Albertans 14.4 cents per litre of gas, up from 8.8 cents in 2021. That is expected to rise to 37.6 cents in 2030. 

However, Québec only pays 10 cents per litre of gas. By 2030, it will rise to 22.5 cents per litre of gas, whereas Albertans will pay 67.8 cents in total fuel taxes.

"It's become quite clear that the price the federal government has set is not the same in every province," said Alberta Premier Danielle Smith. 

"Québec is going to have a much lower carbon tax price than Alberta, and I suppose if the federal government were going to interfere in this matter, the courts would frown on differential pricing."

According to PBO Yves Giroux, the carbon tax "is a progressive tax." He said the top 60% of households pay more tax than they receive in rebates, while the bottom 40% receive more refunds than they pay — switching to only the bottom 20% in 2024/25.

"If you do the average, yeah, it's true, it's going to cost more money to people, but the people who are paying are the richest among us, which is exactly how the system was designed," federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault told CTV last month.

"The rich pay more for their carbon consumption and pollution, and we're supporting, through the transition, middle-class Canadians and low-income Canadians, and that's what we're doing."

Despite Parliament committing to a carbon tax "at a similar level of stringency" across the country, Québec will pay $97 per tonne in 2030. In contrast, Alberta and the rest of Canada will incur $170 per tonne of emissions.

On November 29, Smith announced the UCP would suspend the fuel tax from January to June 2023. She claimed it is "designed by the wealthy and well-connected" while not readily impacting their household finances as it does everyone else.

The Alberta government has since extended the fuel tax suspension to the end of the year to provide relief at the pumps. She would consider further extensions after gauging oil and gas prices and revenues at such time.

On December 9, the UCP leader told reporters she would look at using the Alberta Sovereignty Act to investigate this discrepancy. The party has yet to confirm if or when that motion would be tabled.

"Trudeau's special deal for Québec shows the carbon tax was always about politics, not the environment," added Terrazzano. "Canadians should all pay one carbon tax rate of $0."

Before July 1 and the imposition of the federal tax, Nova Scotia also had a provincial cap-and-trade carbon tax. Nova Scotia cut emissions by 36% since 2005, while Québec cut emissions by 12%. 

Smith wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last November to highlight her concerns about subsequent carbon tax hikes. She demanded Ottawa cancel its carbon tax tripling as it worsened inflation and borrowing costs for Albertan households. 

"It's to make life more painful for the poor and the powerless, and with that tax set to go up again in the middle of winter, when inflation is eating more and more into your hard-earned dollars," said the UCP leader. 

Last March, the Bank of Canada Governor, Tiff Macklem, confirmed the carbon tax added 0.4% to inflation.

"We do not want to see the price of everything go up, especially for our seniors on fixed incomes during the winter months," continued Smith.

In March 2021, the Supreme Court upheld the federal carbon tax in a 6-3 decision despite legal challenges from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.

Smith told reporters last year that the Supreme Court is "unlikely" to hear another legal challenge of the federal carbon tax; she would consider it "upon seeking further legal guidance."

In a CBC interview last October, she opened the possibility of the province re-litigating the carbon tax provided she had "new information" to present.

"We have a war in Ukraine. We have a global world increase in prices. We have global instability. We have an affordability crisis," she said, adding a legal challenge of the carbon tax is one way to address affordability and inflation.

On May 4, Rebel News asked Energy Minister Brian Jean if further conversations had occurred. He pivoted to explain how expensive the carbon tax is for Albertans. 

"The UCP is always going to stand up for Albertans, and the carbon tax is something that puts a tax on everything and makes life more expensive," said Jean.

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