That, given the government’s failure to provide a clear explanation of the costs of its carbon tax policy, and given that the people of Ontario have rejected the carbon tax, the House call on the government to table, by June 22, 2018, how much the proposed federal carbon tax of $50 per tonne will cost a median Canadian family.
He said: Mr. Speaker, though I speak here and now, and in the present, I want to reach back into our ancient history to discuss our ancient rights and liberties as parliamentary people.
We inherited this place from our British ancestors, who gathered in the fields of Runnymede to force King John to sign the Magna Carta. Among the demands made by what we today would call “citizens” but then were called “subjects” was that the crown could not levy funds for which there had not been provided general consent. In other words, King John and his predecessors had plundered the people in order to fund endless foreign wars and costly ventures, and had done so without the consent of the people actually paying the bills. From that grew a principle that would eventually be called in American terms “no taxation without representation”. In other words, the government cannot tax what legislatures do not approve. That principle remains here today.
As members know, governments are banned from levying any tax or in fact making any expenditures before it is approved by this here, a gathering of the commoners. It is not enough for the Senate, which historically represented the aristocracy, to make that approval. It does not represent the common people who pay those costs. We do. We are the representatives of the commoners, and that is why we are here in the House of Commons standing, as we are, on this green carpet representing the fields from which the original commoners came and for whose consent we are the ones delegated to provide.
Before the House of Commons at present is a budget bill that would levy a new tax, a carbon tax. That tax would apply to any good that uses fossil fuels in their production or transport to bring it to consumers. As a result, the tax will raise the cost of almost every consumer good people buy, not only those products that are directly made with fossil fuels but those that are transported or produced by those fuels. Not only will our gas prices, home heating prices, and other fuel costs rise, but our groceries, which come by truck and train, will also become expensive. Consumer goods like furniture and clothing, which also have to be transported to retail outlets, will become more expensive. The government will collect the revenues on those increased costs.
However, unlike other taxes, the costs were not itemized for everyday Canadians. If we pay income tax, we file and we find out what we pay. If we pay HST, we look at our bill and we see how much tax formed part of our purchase price. Therefore, Canadians can generally, if imprecisely, calculate what each tax is costing them. Carbon taxes are far more insidious. Their costs are embedded inside the products and services that people buy but they are not itemized on any receipt. Therefore, if grocers raise the costs of fresh fruits and vegetables to feed our kids, we might assume that they are to blame, when in fact they are not behind the cost increase; rather, it is the government and its carbon tax that is causing that price inflation.
The government is proposing to move forward with this tax to embed all of these price increases in the purchases that Canadians make without telling them what it would cost. One defence it might otherwise have made for this secrecy is that it does not know what it would cost. However, that is not true. I have obtained numerous documents, which I have attempted to table in this House, in which the government has calculated the costs. It says that it has tables in which the costs for the average household is calculated, yet it blacks out the numbers, denying Parliament the information it needs in order to vote on this budget bill.
I spoke earlier about the principle of no taxation without representation. Well, there can be no representation without information. The government cannot tax what Parliament does not approve, but Parliament cannot approve what it does not know. Therefore, there can be no taxation without information.
The government has that information but refuses to release it. Why? What is the motivation for keeping all of this secret? I think it is the same motivation that a high-priced retailer has when trying to sell an excessively expensive product. They do not put the price on a product, but ask that a person bring the item up to the front and make a psychological decision to buy it. Only after, when one has one's credit card out, does one find out what it costs.
My experience is that when I walk through a retail outlet and there is a product that does not have a price tag on it, it is because it is too expensive and I cannot afford it. That may well be why the government is trying to sell the carbon tax without telling people what it will cost them. Even worse, unlike the retailer who at some point prior to the transaction must reveal the cost, in this case, the Liberals do not even propose to reveal the cost after the purchase is made. In other words, people will be paying sums of money to the government without even knowing they are doing it, because those sums are buried in literally millions of products and services that Canadians buy every week and every day.
We, on this side of this House as Her Majesty’s loyal opposition, cannot countenance this violation of our ancient right to know what the government costs us. That is why I am announcing today that we have put forward over 200 motions to object to the spending bill the government has just tabled before the House. We will keep the government here voting for as long as 30 hours until it releases every single document it has since the last federal election indicating what this tax will cost the average Canadian family.
I notice that we have a very enthusiastic group of Conservatives here who are prepared to stand and do their duty, to stand and defend taxpayers, to stay here all night if they have to, and stay as long as necessary to defend the people they represent. However, there is no enthusiasm on that side of the House of Commons. I hear nothing but deafening silence, and I see nothing but glum faces. Many of the backbenchers on that side are actually decent and conscientious people, but I am sure members will forgive me for saying that they feel no comfort in watching their privileged front bench cover up the facts from their constituents. I know that they will find it miserable to sit there and vote time after time to protect the secrecy of the front bench as it moves forward with this new, insidious, secretive tax. We know that the Liberals have a majority, but we will use our numbers, such as they are, the strong mandate of the official opposition that we have been given, to make it as difficult as possible for the government to pull off this rip-off.
If members want any proof that this is anything but a tax grab, look at how the Liberals are taxing the tax. They propose to impose the GST not just on products people buy but on the carbon tax cost of those products. Let us say that a Canadian buys some furniture at a furniture store, just like any other middle-class suburban family would do to furnish their home. Of course, the furniture would be subject to a goods and services tax, but there is also another tax hidden within the cost of that furniture, and that is the cost of the carbon tax that has been borne by those who produced the furniture and then transported the furniture.
All of those costs get transferred to the customer. The customer always gets the cost passed down. The government not only proposes that the GST should apply to the furniture but also to the carbon tax cost on that furniture. In other words, it is a tax on a tax.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer says that in the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia alone the federal government will collect a quarter billion dollars in GST on the carbon tax. Imagine what those costs would be right across the country in the form of GST on the carbon tax. Canadians are being forced to pay a tax for the privilege of paying another tax. I asked the government about this and it said this is how the GST works. According to the government, it applies to all the goods and services Canadians buy.
Is the carbon tax a good or a service? I am not sure it is any good except in being of service to the government's plan to take more money from everyday taxpayers. As my friend to the left of me said, it is a disservice to everybody else.
We are calling on the government to release all the documents in its possession. I know the government will try to get out of this voting session tonight by coming up with some phony number that it will invent at the eleventh hour in order to let all of its MPs go home. I want to be very specific about this. We want every single document produced by every single department that calculates the cost of the carbon tax to every single Canadian that has been produced since the last election.
There is no reason why the government cannot do this. We are not looking for commercially sensitive information. What commercial sensitivity could possibly exist in telling people what they are going to have to pay? There is no national security reason the government should not do this, although ironically, the government might go so far as to make an argument for such exemptions. It did use an exemption under an access to information request, that it says in the act that revealing to Canadians the cost of the carbon tax would imperil the government's ability to manage the economy. That was the exemption the government used in the existing Access to Information Act in order to justify withholding information.
Not only will the carbon tax that the Liberals have designed damage the economy, mere knowledge of its cost could be damaging to the government's ability to administer the economy, according to the government. Let us be realistic here. If the carbon tax is going to damage the economy, keeping its cost secret is not going to mitigate those damages. That excuse does not work.
The Liberals say the carbon tax is a provincial policy, that it has nothing to do with them, so they cannot possibly release any information on it. Bill is a federal government bill introduced in the House of Commons to impose a carbon tax at a national level. If it were simply a provincial issue, we would not need federal legislation, so therefore it is a federal issue.
Then the Liberals say some of these numbers are outdated, that they go back two years. They claim the whole world has changed in two years, so members do not need that crazy old data; they will keep it to themselves. Well, if it is so old, just release it and explain to Canadians why it is not applicable anymore. They should just say the numbers are very high and that they will damage the middle-class Canadian household. They should just tell us that there is no reason to worry because it is old information and it is no longer relevant, that they have new information with which to replace it, and that they will let Canadians look at all those facts and in their wisdom decide who to believe. That objection does not work.
I am very curious to hear throughout the day specific justifications from members of the government for keeping these costs secret. Even those who support a carbon tax should be in favour of telling people what it costs. If it is worth what it costs, then why not provide those costs and justify them in making the case? However, the government will not do that. It wants to keep those costs secret because if the costs become known, then one of the claims the government has made will be disproven. It has claimed that the carbon tax is going to be revenue neutral. To be revenue neutral the government would have to tell people what it is collecting and what people are paying in the first place.
How can we believe the Liberals are going to neutralize a cost if we do not know what that cost is? If they were really going to neutralize the effect on middle- and working-class households of this new tax, they would first need to say, “Here's what it costs and here's what you're getting back in some other tax reduction”. However, they will not do that because this is not revenue neutral. The reason we know that is because I specifically asked officials with Environment Canada and Finance Canada at the committee whether the government would use the proceeds of the tax to lower other taxes, in other words to let people keep more through income tax savings in order to compensate them for what extra they pay in carbon taxes. The officials in both those departments confirmed that the government intends to do no such thing. It will not use the revenues to reduce any other tax. In fact, it will use these revenues in order to spend more money. That is the Liberals' definition of revenue neutral. If Canadians send it, they will spend it. Saying they are going to raise a tax, but not to worry, they will spend every penny, is not revenue neutral. It is a tax grab.
We know we cannot trust the government on money. Just yesterday, I stood up in the House of Commons and quoted a Fraser Institute study showing that 81% of middle-class Canadians are paying more income tax today than when the took office. The Prime Minister stood up and said, “That's not what the report said at all. Come on”. It turns out he had similar denials on the floor of the House of Commons, and he had so offended the report's authors that they actually took what is perhaps the unprecedented step of asking newspapers to run a guest column where they could correct the Prime Minister and point out that indeed Canadian middle-class taxpayers are paying more because of the policies of the Prime Minister, which is exactly the opposite of what he promised in the last election.
After I disproved his claim about the report, he stood up and said, “Okay, Liberals have raised taxes, but they've just taken away boutique tax credits from rich people”. By rich people he means anyone who used the public transit tax credit to take the bus. If someone takes the bus they are too rich for the . He takes a limousine; they take the bus. Taxpayers who used the children's fitness tax credit to put their kids in soccer and hockey are too rich, according to the Prime Minister, and they deserve a tax increase. Students who used the textbook tax credit to buy their expensive books in order to learn are too rich according to the Prime Minister, and according to him they deserve a tax increase. All of this is just a bit rich coming from our trust fund millionaire Prime Minister, who has never once raised taxes on himself.
On this side of the House, we will continue to stand up for working-class taxpayers to give them the chance to earn a better life and keep more of what they earn. We believe in putting people before government, a principle that is 800 years old, a principle that helped inspire the very creation of the parliamentary system in which we operate and debate today, and in which we will stand and vote hour after hour for the rights of taxpayers tonight.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to the motion moved by the hon. member for . This gives me the opportunity to talk about what our government is doing to support the economy and protect the environment.
Maintaining a strong economy and fighting climate change are important priorities to us and to Canadians. We share their concerns. With the possible exception of the hon. member for , Canadians know that there is a cost to pollution. Canadians also know that droughts, floods, and weather have an adverse effect not only on health, but also on the vitality of our economy. A healthy, sustainable economy favours growth and job creation to the benefit of the middle class.
Unlike the previous government, our government does not intend to stand idly by. We have made major investments in order to protect the quality of Canada's air, water, and natural areas. We want to ensure that future generations can still walk in the woods and swim in our magnificent lakes and rivers.
Therefore, to date, our government has allocated $5.7 billion over 12 years in support of the implementation of the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. This plan was developed with the provinces and territories and in consultation with indigenous peoples. It will ensure a healthy environment for future generations and support a strong, clean economy. It will also foster innovation and create good, well-paying jobs for the middle class.
Let me remind the House of some of its measures. As a first step in the framework, budget 2016 provided nearly $3 billion over five years to address the effects of climate change and reduce air pollution. In the 2017 budget, the government allocated additional significant investments in green infrastructure and public transit. On top of that, nearly $1.5 billion in new financing was made available to help Canada's clean technology firms grow and expand.
More recently, budget 2018 proposed one of the most significant investments in nature conservation in Canadian history, to protect our ecosystems and biodiversity. In partnership with the provinces, territories, and indigenous peoples, this plan will help preserve 17% of Canada's interior and inland waters. The pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change supports Canada's vision to reduce greenhouse gases by 30% over 2005 levels by 2030, while allowing us to adapt to and build resilience for climate change, which is very real, as we know; its effects are being felt across the country.
To achieve this goal, the key element of our action plan is to put a tax on carbon pollution across the country, because this is effective. It will help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to do so at a low cost to businesses and consumers. By focusing on development and new choices to enable Canadians to reduce their carbon footprint, we can stimulate innovation. At the end of the day, we will all benefit from increased economic growth and cleaner growth.
The pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change was developed in collaboration with the provincial and territorial governments, and most provinces support it. A clean environment and a clean economy go hand in hand. That is what we have said and we believe it. Our efforts to tackle climate change are part of our plan to grow the economy and strengthen the middle class. The 2018 budget tabled earlier this year by the , whom I am fortunate to work with, is doing even more to help Canadians. The new Canada workers benefit will let low-income workers keep more money in their pockets. This will encourage more people to join the labour force and will provide concrete assistance to more than two million Canadians who are working hard to join the middle class.
The Canada child benefit will also be enhanced. Benefits will be increased annually to keep pace with the cost of living starting in July of this year, which is two years earlier than planned.
We are able to do it this year because of Canada's sustained economic growth. By providing more money to families who need it most, this benefit provides a new opportunity for Canadian families. We should also not forget our efforts on behalf of small businesses, who, as we know, create most of the jobs in Canada. We reduced the small business tax to 10% effective January 1 and will be reducing it to 9% next January 1. This represents savings of up to $7,500 a year to help Canadian entrepreneurs and innovators.
The negative impacts of climate change are a challenge that governments must grapple with. We do so with the confidence that a strong economy and a clean environment go hand in hand. Canadians expect all governments to take serious action to grow the economy, protect the environment, and address climate change. We are taking action.
Putting a price on carbon pollution is central to Canada's plan to fight climate change and grow the economy. Carbon pricing is broadly recognized as one of the most effective, transparent, and efficient policy approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
In December 2016, our government, along with most provinces and territories, worked with indigenous partners and adopted the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. The framework includes a pan-Canadian approach to pricing carbon pollution, with the aim of having carbon pricing in place in all provinces and territories. The framework provides provinces and territories with the flexibility to implement their own carbon pollution pricing systems. They can choose between an explicit price-based system or a cap and trade system.
The member for keeps talking about price hikes. Let me reassure him that the direct cost of the actions in the pan-Canadian framework, including carbon pricing, is projected to be modest, particularly in comparison to the projected benefits. All direct revenues related to carbon pricing will be returned to the jurisdiction of origin. Of course, the precise cost will depend on the design of each provincial or territorial carbon pricing system.
To ensure that a fair price on carbon pollution is in place across Canada, our government has committed to implementing a federal backstop carbon-pollution pricing system. The backstop system would apply in provinces and territories that request it and in jurisdictions that do not have a pricing system in place that meets the federal standard by the end of this year. In such cases, the cost of carbon pollution in the federal backstop system will be set at $20 per tonne of emissions as of January 1, 2019, and the federal system will return direct revenues from the carbon price to the jurisdiction of origin.
That said, we cannot measure the cost of carbon pricing without also measuring its benefits. Those benefits are important, such as reducing air and water pollution and their harmful effects on human health and on the environment.
At the risk of repeating myself, a strong economy and a clean environment go hand in hand. That is why this year's budget proposed further measures to help grow a healthy and sustainable clean economy. For example, budget 2018 includes one of the most significant investments in nature conservation in Canadian history, more than $1.3 billion over five years. This will ensure that future generations can continue to hike in our forests and swim in our lakes and rivers. This will also allow us to enhance the protection of Canada's ecosystems, landscapes, and biodiversity, including species at risk.
Our government is also investing about $1 billion over five years to establish better rules for the review of major projects, an effort that, all at once, aims to protect our environment, rebuild public trust, and help create new jobs and economic opportunities. This builds on the other significant investments made since we took office. For example, budget 2017 included historic investments in green infrastructure and public transit as well as increased support for the Canadian clean-tech sector. Budget 2017 provided up-and-coming companies with increased funding in the form of business equity, working capital, and project funds.
The low carbon economy leadership fund, launched in 2017, is investing $1.4 billion in projects that will generate clean growth and reduce greenhouse gas emissions while creating jobs for Canadians for years to come. In Ontario, where the member for is from, almost $420 million will be invested to support Ontario's climate change action plan and help Ontarians contribute to fighting climate change.
In Alberta, where the member grew up, and I am sure where he has many friends, almost $150 million will be used to support provincial climate objectives. Alberta's projects will focus on helping Albertans, including farmers and ranchers, use less energy and save money. The province will also invest in restoring forests affected by wildfires.
In Quebec, over $260 million will help expand action under the province's 2013-2020 climate change action plan.
The list goes on, with projects in British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. It is important to note that only provinces and territories that sign on to the pan-Canadian framework for clean growth and climate change are eligible for funding under the low carbon economy leadership fund.
I just spent a bit of time highlighting the measures announced in 2017 and 2018, but this really started in 2016. That year, our government launched a $1.5 billion national oceans protection plan to improve marine safety and responsible shipping, protect Canada's marine environment, and unlock new opportunities for indigenous and coastal communities.
So far, to combat climate change, our government has already allocated $5.7 billion over 12 years in support of the implementation of the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. After years of inaction under the previous government, I think members would agree that this has been welcome news for Canadians.
Pricing carbon pollution is the cornerstone of our efforts to combat climate change. We must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and send a clear signal to entrepreneurs, industry, and investors that we are moving to a low-carbon future.
Carbon pricing offers many economic benefits, such as lower health care costs, less spending to fight climate change, and more innovation, including energy efficiency improvements.
Such improvements can be very beneficial. For example, in 2013 alone, energy efficiency savings averaged out to $869 per Canadian household.
In conclusion, a clean environment and a strong economy go hand in hand. The global economy is moving toward cleaner growth. Canada cannot stand on the sidelines.
Our government is determined to ensure that Canadians will benefit from the opportunities created by a sustainable economy and all it offers, including a healthier environment for future generations.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to an important topic in the context of the Conservatives' opposition motion.
I am a bit surprised to have to rise yet again to speak to a question that is very similar to others that have been raised by my Conservative colleagues. Here they are again on the issue of carbon pricing and its cost. It is the famous question that they keep asking over and over again in the House of Commons. It seems that they will never be satisfied with the answers from the government and the interventions by our colleagues in the House.
Today I will address the issue in a broader context and talk about climate change leadership. It is leadership that was completely lacking from the Conservative side. They were content to bury their heads in the sand. As for the Liberals, they are being completely inconsistent when it comes to fighting climate change, especially in light of their recent decisions. I will come back to that later in my speech.
Let me begin by saying that I am disappointed that the Conservatives are so obsessed with this issue that they do not see all the other important issues that we could be discussing in the House. They are obsessed with this topic. They are fixated on a document from October 20, 2015, the day after the election of that same year. The document, to which they keep referring, is some sort of memo or email from the Department of Finance in which the figures are redacted. If the Conservatives seriously want to obtain this document then I do not understand why they have not managed to get their hands on it. That document was dated the day after the election and was highly likely prepared during the 2015 election campaign, when the Conservatives were technically still in power. The Conservatives have developed a baffling fixation with this document.
I am fortunate to sit on the Standing Committee on Finance, where we heard public servants being quizzed about this. They said that the document was prepared during the campaign along with many documents put together in the event that a new government was elected. They worked on several scenarios based on the election platforms of the different parties. It seems that it was common practice in the public service, during and a little after the campaign, to start doing the groundwork for potential changes in government policies and in advance of the swearing in of the prime minister and cabinet. That is what the Conservatives continue to refer to. They are fixated on this document, which is a little surprising given that it was prepared under their watch.
It is also a little surprising to see them so opposed to the polluter pays principle whereby those who pollute have to pay for the cost of that pollution to our environment and our society. In several other areas, paying for one's pollution is standard practice. Our municipal taxes, for instance, pay for our garbage to be taken to the dump. The same principle applies to recycling, because there is a cost associated with taking recyclable materials to a recycling centre. The polluter pays principle applies in most sectors. We pay for the pollution we create.
Until just recently, however, this principle has never applied to greenhouse gas pollution. That is what this government is trying to do, as are the provincial governments and many governments around the world that have already taken action in that regard. It is the right thing to do. As in other areas, whoever is responsible for polluting should have to pay for the cost it imposes on our society. The Conservatives do not seem to understand, nor are they willing to try to understand, that this principle should also apply to polluting our atmosphere.
If this principle is good enough for the garbage we bury in landfills, why should it not also apply to the pollution we put in the air, which goes out into the atmosphere and surely has a significant impact? I do not think we still need to make a case for the existence of and the science behind climate change. Only a few Conservatives still deny the existence of climate change, or more specifically, the fact that human activity affects climate change. Thankfully, their numbers are dwindling.
During the recent campaign in Ontario, we heard Conservative candidates denying that humans had anything to do with climate change. Some of them are in complete denial. Fortunately, a few of them have seen the light with regard to the action that we must take and some others support the polluter pays principle. There are also some Conservative thinkers who have realized that this is the right thing to do. Take for example, Mr. Manning, a well-known Conservative, who has come to realize that a carbon tax is one of the most effective ways to combat climate change. I am also thinking of Canada's Ecofiscal Commission, which did a lot of work on this issue. This commission is made up of a number of thinkers from various backgrounds, including some who are a bit more fiscally conservative. They realized that a carbon tax is the best way to fight climate change.
Based on their studies, they came to the conclusion that, of all the possible tools at their disposal, pricing carbon is the most effective way of meeting our objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Conservatives alone continue to deny the facts and the studies and findings that have been confirmed by countries around the world.
It is really unfortunate that they are still in denial. Fortunately, leaders around the world have begun implementing polluter pays mechanisms and putting a price on carbon. Take for example British Columbia. It put a price on carbon over 10 years ago. Alberta did the same just recently, and so did Quebec and Ontario. They joined California in implementing a carbon exchange, even though Ontario may end up changing its system. Provinces across Canada have been showing leadership on this issue, and they have had some success.
I do not necessarily want to repeat the Liberal government’s words, but we are told that 80% of Canadians are currently subject to a carbon pricing system. We see that these jurisdictions are the most economically successful. This flies in the face of the Conservatives’ message and talking points; they say that carbon pricing will spell the end of the economy, that it will catastrophically blow up the Canadian economy, and that as a result, the economy will go into a tailspin. However, Alberta has the highest economic growth, at over 4%, and has also had carbon pricing for a few years now. The economies of British Columbia, Quebec, and Ontario are also doing well.
It is hard to understand why the Conservatives think that there is a cause and effect and that a Canada-wide carbon price will be catastrophic, as well as lead to an economic apocalypse in Canada as soon as it is brought in. This is not supported by any facts, and these are just political talking points for the Conservatives.
This brings me to the importance of the fight against climate change. I am pleased to speak to this issue and say to my constituents that it is extremely important to me. This must be our primary concern here in Ottawa.
In Sherbrooke, hundreds of people constantly write to me on this and other environmental topics. These are very important concerns for us. People are aware of the impact of the climate change that we are seeing across Canada and around the world. They understand that Ottawa must have leaders in the fight against climate change. I am therefore very happy to represent them and to stand up and assure them that this is also very important to me.
It is often said that we must protect the planet for future generations. I still count myself among them to a certain extent, although I am already 27 years old and quite a bit older than when I was first elected. When they say that climate change will affect the youngest, it is because they will have to live with its long-term impacts. I can understand that, and I am certainly worried about my own future on this planet.
We must do everything in our power to slow the impact of climate change, because everyone understands that the process is already under way. We are already seeing the effects, unfortunately, but we have a duty to slow down this process and minimize its impact on future generations and my generation. We want to continue to have a planet where we enjoy living. As my colleague said, we can still swim in our lakes and rivers across Canada, but I fear that this will change in the long term. When I am 80 or 90 years old, if we keep going in the direction we are heading in now, I am not even sure that I will be able to enjoy the same quality of air or water.
That is why I am always happy to share my thoughts on this issue and demand more action from the government. Clearly, doing nothing is not an option, but that still seems to be the Conservatives' preference. They just want to wait, hope, and pray. Some Conservatives pray many times a day, but prayers will not slow the effects of climate change. To do that, we need a real plan.
We must also remember that the cost of inaction is much higher than the cost of action. That is another thing the Conservatives seem to be forgetting here. Yes, there is a cost to taking action, and when the government takes action, it has to get good value for money. An example of that is carbon and pollution pricing, as I was saying off the top. The cost of inaction is much higher, though. The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, which the Conservatives shut down in 2011, pegged the cost of inaction at $5 billion per year by 2020 and up to $43 billion per year by 2050. Those costs are much higher than the cost of carbon pricing. The Conservatives seem to have lost sight of that in this discussion.
At the Standing Committee on Finance, the member for asked the same questions every time, just like he asks the same questions every day in question period. When people talk to him about the cost of inaction, he does not seem to get that such a things exists.
It is truly unfortunate that the Conservatives are so blinded by their ideology. They do not understand that these measures are necessary.
I also want to talk about what various provinces have done, particularly Alberta, which is a real role model in this area. There is the principle of revenue neutrality, which is also part of this government's approach. This means no cost to Canadians. Once again, the Conservatives do not seem to understand. Every time we remind them, either in committee or here in the House, that this will be revenue neutral, they do not seem to understand that every dollar raised by carbon pricing is reinvested directly into the economy. The Conservatives cannot seem to grasp this concept.
Alberta is an excellent example of revenue neutrality, and less fortunate low-income families even have a surplus at the end of the year. They receive more money than they pay for carbon pricing. These figures are obviously put forward by the Alberta government. I do not have the exact numbers in front of me today, but costs are estimated at around $400 for each low-income family.
Furthermore, these are the families least affected by the carbon tax because they consume the least. The tax is estimated at $400 per family, but the Government of Alberta gave out direct rebates of about $500. They came out on top at the end of the year. I used the past tense, but I should also use the present. They come out on top at the end of the year. This system is still in place in Alberta. An important part of the discussion should be that the money from the carbon tax is directly invested into the provinces or given directly to citizens through direct transfers.
This brings me to the Liberals' inconsistent approach to the environment, even though today we are talking about the carbon tax and we support this initiative, as we said earlier. All of the major political parties, except one, promised some kind of carbon tax in the last election. I must commend the Liberals on their initiative. However, I condemn their inconsistent approach to combatting climate change.
Everyone, including the people of Sherbrooke, saw what happened recently. We were outraged by the government's decision to invest $4.5 billion of our money in a pipeline transporting oil sands to British Columbia, in spite of obvious opposition in several regions of British Columbia, including indigenous reserves.
The government decided to take money from the people of Sherbrooke, who pay their taxes every year and every day. It decided to take taxpayers' money to invest in a 70-year old pipeline that leaks. Just recently that pipeline leaked 5,000 litres of oil. I want to use the very apt analogy that my colleague from used yesterday, I believe. He said it is as though the government decided in 1990 to invest in the VHS industry, which was obviously doomed to sputter, if not fail, with the arrival of new technologies.
In this case, the government is deciding, with a glaring lack of long-term vision, to take taxpayers' money and invest it in the energy of yesterday, specifically in a pipeline and even a pipeline expansion. The government is going to inject an additional $12 billion to $15 billion of public money into the expansion of this pipeline in order to transport even more oil.
This is completely inconsistent with the current narrative of the Liberals, who signed the Paris Agreement and say they want to fight climate change. They then turn around and take our money to invest it in a pipeline, an extremely bad deal for Canadians. No private investor was prepared to invest money in this project, and the company that owned the pipeline could not find a buyer.
How can the government claim that this is good for Canadians when the was the only person willing to kick in? This project certainly conveys no vision for our country's future. I just wanted to make sure I condemned that in my speech today. We are talking about climate change and greenhouse gas reduction measures, but we have a government that is inconsistent, to say the least. It says it wants to fight climate change, but then it turns around and spends an eye-watering $4.5 billion on this pipeline. That is an astronomical sum. What could we do with $4.5 billion? The opportunities that could be created with $4.5 billion would be amazing, especially if invested in an energy transition. However, the government has chosen to spend it on a project that is utterly devoid of any vision for the future and is doomed to fail, given that no private investor was willing to risk a penny on it.
I would be happy to take questions from my colleagues to elaborate further on the points I addressed today.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to our opposition day motion asking the Liberals to come clean on the carbon tax cover-up and tell Canadians exactly what the carbon tax is going to be costing Canadians.
I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the hon. member for .
The carbon tax and the issue we are facing now is part of a much larger narrative we are hearing from the Liberal government. We have heard it for several months, if not a couple of years now. It is the Liberals imposing these ideological policies without doing their due diligence and without having any understanding of the consequences of these decisions for everyday Canadians. They do not seem to do the fiscal analysis. They do not seem to do their homework and understand the consequences of their decisions on certain sectors of the economy.
I would like to bring forward one example. That example is something that is obviously important to me in my riding of Foothills, and that is the impact of the carbon tax on agriculture. The , a couple of weeks ago, in our agriculture and agri-food committee, as well as in the Senate, claimed that Canadian farmers are very supportive of the Liberal's carbon tax. I have not spoken to one single farmer who has phoned me or sent me an email who supports the Liberal carbon tax. In fact, it is quite the opposite. They are extremely concerned about the impact the Liberal carbon tax will have on their farms. It is a farm-killing carbon tax.
I would like to quote a couple of prominent people from the industry. The chair of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association said, “I'm not sure who has been briefing [the agriculture minister], but he is dead wrong if he thinks that most farmers support the carbon tax”.
The president of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association said, “Farmers don't agree on everything, but if there's one issue they stand together on, it's in opposition to a carbon tax.”
It appears that the is misrepresenting the view of Canadian farmers when it comes to the carbon tax. All we are asking the minister is how much the carbon tax is going to be impacting our Canadian farmers, yet the Liberals will not do that. They will not come clean with those numbers.
Farmers, ranchers, and ag processors are dependent on any constant they can have in their industry. Unlike any other sector, our farmers and ranchers face so many unknowns, whether commodity prices, weather, or trade agreements, and the Liberals are adding yet another piece of uncertainty to their livelihoods. The carbon tax is just another attack on rural Canadians, specifically on agriculture.
Let us take a look at some of the things our farmers and ranchers have had to face over the last couple of years with the Liberal government. There is front-of-pack labelling. This is going to be devastating to Canadian agriculture, and the government has absolutely refused to listen to our stakeholders. In fact, it has gone out of its way to ensure that they are not included in the debate on front-of-pack labelling.
The same can be said of Canada's food guide. The government is once again pushing ideological ideas, telling Canadians, according to another Liberal values test, what is healthy and what they should be eating. They are telling them to stay away from meat protein and dairy products, because those things are unhealthy. There is no common sense to that.
That is just the beginning. There is the bungling of trade agreements. We are losing a lot of our pulse export opportunities in India, one of our major trading partners. It is a $4-billion industry that is now in jeopardy because the Liberals have bungled our relationship with India.
Now we see that NAFTA is at a critical stage. We have finally seen the TPP tabled today, but will we ratify it so that we are one of the first six countries to take advantage of those new market opportunities? We have also heard that for our producers, their entrepreneurial spirit is being crushed by no longer being eligible for the small business tax deduction. All these things are making it more and more difficult for our agriculture sector and our farmers and ranchers to be successful, to reach those new markets, and to stay in business. It seems to be on every tool they have to be successful and wake up in the morning and go to work. It takes away their feeling that they are worthwhile and that what they are doing is appreciated by Canadians. That is why they are finding this to be most frustrating.
The Conservative are trying to fight for the taxpayer. We want to know what the implication of this will be for our constituents. At the agriculture and agri-food committee, we asked several times for a study on the carbon tax and the impact it would have on agriculture. Every time we asked, we were blocked by the Liberal members.
Farmers have earned the right to know how a Liberal policy will impact their everyday lives. It will impact their livelihood. Is this something they want to pass on to their sons, daughters, nieces, and nephews? Many of our farmers have been on the land for generations.
The other thing the Liberal carbon tax does not take into consideration is the environmental stewardship and the work our farmers have been doing for years to try to protect the land, aquifers, and waterways, which are so important to them. They use zero tillage, new methods and innovation to be on the land much less than they were, and are growing higher yields on less land. They have been doing all these things on their own, without having a carbon tax imposed on them. These things should be taken into consideration, but they are not. In fact, it has gone the other way. The government is going to impose yet another obstacle for our agriculture industry to be successful.
Earlier this morning my colleague talked about taxation without representation. This is yet another example of the Liberals moving ahead with an ideological policy but not having the confidence to take those decisions to Canadians. They do not have the confidence to open it up and put it on the table. The Liberals campaigned in 2015 about being open and transparent and doing things differently. They have had opportunities to come clean on the cost of this. We know from the Parliamentary Budget Officer and the Department of Finance that the carbon tax will be more detrimental to rural Canadians, and even more detrimental to western farmers as opposed to eastern Canadian farmers. We know those numbers. Therefore, why will the Liberals not come clean and just say what it will cost and the impact it will have on the agricultural sector?
The Liberals keep talking about the importance of agriculture to our economy. They have set this goal of reaching $75 billion in exports by 2025. It is great to have those aspirational goals, but if, at the same time, they are cutting the legs out from under the agricultural sector, taking away every tool farmers have to try and reach that goal, then they are being disingenuous to our Canadian farmers.
Previously, I talked about taxation without representation. However, another tax that will have a profound impact on our farmers is the escalator tax. The Liberals have put forward an unprecedented escalator tax that will increase the cost of beer, wine, and spirits every year, and it will not have to go through the scrutiny of Parliament. Canadians will not have a voice or an opportunity to speak their minds on a tax increase that will come forward every year. That will impact our agriculture sector. We have barley and rye growers, and producers out there, certainly in the wine industry, who are very excited about the new opportunities with craft distilling and craft beer. They will pay the escalator tax over and over again, and now also for a carbon tax.
I do not think we are asking the Liberal government anything unwarranted. We asking it to be open, transparent, and honest with Canadians. What is the carbon tax going to cost our Canadian farmers and ranchers? They are up every day, putting in their blood, sweat, and tears to ensure we have the best quality food on our table and doing everything they can to feed the world. However, for every opportunity they have had, the Liberals have made it more and more difficult.
I will conclude with a question for the Liberal government. What is its farm-killing carbon tax going to cost Canadian farm families?