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View Dan Albas Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Abbotsford for his contribution to our country and to our debate today by putting forward his motion, one I am happy to speak to and support. To me, this is an important subject, and I will explain why.
Climate change has had a serious impact on my riding and on British Columbia in general. I would like to give an example. The science shows us that our winters are not as cold as they once were. Because our winters are not as cold, the mountain pine beetle has managed to survive through the winter months and not be killed off. This, in turn, has allowed the pine beetle to thrive, and in turn, it has devastated our forests. That has created two problems. One is an economic problem. Throughout B.C. and my riding, we have had a number of lumber mill closures. This can have a devastating impact on small rural communities. It is simply devastating. One of the reasons for these mill closures is a lack of fibre. Because too much forest has been killed off by the pine beetle, there is not enough supply for timber. That is one major problem.
The second major problem is that all this dead timber, combined with our hot summers, has basically created a powder keg of fuel for a wildfire. Make no mistake. Be the cause lightning or humans, when there is a forest fire, this dead beetle wood is producing wildfire activity the likes of which British Columbia has never seen. This not only hurts tourism but can also harm human health. Those with respiratory issues have serious problems dealing with all the smoke and ash. There is also a loss of homes and small businesses and a massive cost for fighting those fires. It is all part of a serious problem.
However, here is the thing: the carbon tax does not stop this. It does nothing to help relieve the situation. The Liberals like to pretend otherwise, but after 10 years of having the carbon tax in British Columbia, our forest fire situation only looks more dire.
Let us overlook that fact for a moment and see if the carbon tax is working otherwise in British Columbia. Total greenhouse gas emissions in B.C. fell in the period between 2004 and 2008. Much of this paralleled what happened nationally with greenhouse gas emissions, and this was mainly attributed to the worldwide economic meltdown that occurred during the later part of that time frame.
In the summer of 2008, former premier Gordon Campbell introduced Canada's first carbon tax in the run-up to the 2009 B.C. general election. The B.C. NDP opposed the carbon tax at that time.
What has happened in B.C. since the carbon tax was introduced in late 2008? It is a great question. I hate to break this fact to the Liberal government, but total greenhouse emissions in British Columbia have gone up. Yes, they have gone up. In fact, there has been a 1.5% increase in emissions in B.C. since 2015 alone. Let me repeat that for the benefit of the Minister of Environment. Since 2015, there has been a 1.5% increase in emissions in British Columbia, despite its having a carbon tax. In other words, the carbon tax is not working.
We have also discovered something else. It is called carbon leakage. What is carbon leakage? Let me give members an example. In 2008, when the carbon tax was first introduced in British Columbia, basically 100%, of all cement used in British Columbia was manufactured in British Columbia. Well, why not? Concrete is not exactly a lightweight, inexpensive product to import and then transport to other jurisdictions. What happened when B.C.-produced concrete became subject to a carbon tax in 2008? Naturally, it became more expensive. By 2014, B.C.-produced concrete accounted for roughly 65% of all concrete used in British Columbia, because cheaper concrete was being imported from jurisdictions with no carbon tax. That is a 35% loss of market share in B.C.'s own market.
Of course, our federal Liberal government knows all about this. That is why, quietly last summer, the Liberals started giving carbon tax exemptions to some of Canada's biggest polluters. However, there is no exemption for small business in their plan, or in my home province, for the average middle-class family. In fact, in B.C., the NDP has now turned the carbon tax into a billion-dollar tax grab that hits families and small business owners hard.
Ironically, the B.C. government is intervening in the carbon tax jurisdictional litigation, arguing that if other provinces do not have a carbon tax, B.C.'s competitiveness will be harmed. Of course, the same principle applies to Canada, where we try to compete with some of our major trading partners that do not have a carbon tax.
This is how carbon leakage is defined in British Columbia:
industries that compete with industry in countries that may have low or no carbon price. If BC industry loses market share to more polluting competitors, known as carbon leakage, it affects our economy and does not reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
To recap what we know from the British Columbia example, after 10 years of having a carbon tax, it has done nothing to prevent the serious climate-change-related problems we are facing in British Columbia. Worse yet, the evidence also shows that it has done nothing to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions. They have actually increased since the B.C. carbon tax was created. It makes British Columbia less competitive, all the while letting major polluters off the hook. Basically, all the carbon tax has done in British Columbia is act as a giant tax grab for the NDP government.
Here is another fact I will share on this point. The B.C. LNG project we often hear the Liberal government boast about, which, by the way, was first approved by the previous government, has been totally exempted from carbon tax increases. The only way this went forward was that it was totally exempted from future carbon tax increases, and it will be a major contributor to increasing B.C. greenhouse gas emissions. Honestly, none of this reconciles, and the facts clearly show that.
If members doubt the facts and evidence from British Columbia, look no further than our very own Parliamentary Budget Officer, who last week made it very clear that the present course of the Liberal government will completely and totally fail to meet the greenhouse gas reduction targets it has set, unless, of course, the Liberal government desires to massively increase the carbon tax load for everyday citizens. That point could not have been made any clearer.
We are seeing mixed messages from the Liberal government on this. Will the Liberals or will they not massively raise the carbon tax if re-elected? We do not get clear answers.
Where does that leave us? It leaves us here with this motion, because it states the obvious. The carbon tax is not working. It continues to fail, so let us do away with this carbon tax so that we can focus on and find other ways to reduce our emissions. We have a collective responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint. We cannot sit back, watch this carbon tax continue to fail and try to pretend that we are taking action on reducing emissions, when in reality, we are not. If anything, we are taking action to provide more carbon tax exemptions to major polluters, and much like the B.C. LNG project, to major projects.
We can pretend that this is not occurring, but it is. Why did the Liberal government provide a 95.5% carbon-tax discount on dirty coal power in the province of New Brunswick? Does anyone seriously believe that making coal power cheaper is any way to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions? It is a total farce, and we sell ourselves and our future short if we continue to play that charade.
I care about our children's future as much as the members opposite, so let us stop the charade today. Let us admit that the carbon tax has failed. Not only has it failed, but it continues to fail. Yes, it may work in theory if everyone were on the same page, but carbon leakage is proof that we are not. Let us do away with the carbon tax and instead let us work together and focus on real, tangible ways to reduce our emissions and lower our carbon footprint.
That is why I am going to be voting in support of this motion today. Again, I thank the member for Abbotsford for his leadership on this file.
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