BY BOB ZIMMER
Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP
As we finally begin to see signs of spring, British Columbians’ wallets are taking a hit with record-breaking gas prices.
This is largely due to the inability of our refineries and pipelines to increase capacity. We are controlled by the markets and with our refineries and pipelines already at maximum levels, gas prices are going to continue to rise.
This is one of the many reasons why we MUST continue to push the prime minister to take concrete action to ensure that the Kinder Morgan pipeline project moves forward. This project would allow more fuel to flow to the Lower Mainland, which would help to lower the price of gas throughout the province.
At the same time, the B.C. government recently increased the B.C. carbon tax from $30 to $35 per tonne. This means having to pay an additional 1.11 cents per litre, bringing the total carbon tax on a litre of gas to 7.78 cents.
While some have said that a carbon tax will help to discourage the use of fuels like coal, petroleum and natural gas, we have seen in British Columbia that this just isn’t the case.
In fact, according to a report by the Sierra Club, in British Columbia “emissions were higher in 2015 than in 2010 and have risen in four of the last five years.”
The problem with a carbon tax is that it doesn’t matter how much these fuels cost us, we still need to consume them every day. It doesn’t matter how much a fill-up at the gas tank is, many of us still have to drive. And it doesn’t matter how much our natural gas or hydro bills go up, we still have to heat our homes.
As we see gas prices increase dramatically here in British Columbia, one can only wonder what is going to happen when the Liberal government forces other provinces to implement their own carbon tax.
In northern B.C., almost everything we consume is put on a truck to get to the region and many of those trucks come from out of province. Once this federally-imposed tax is implemented, it is certain to hit consumers first with an increase in price on absolutely everything.
A federally-imposed carbon tax will also put future oil and gas projects at risk. In meetings with industry leaders, they have often talked to me about how tight the margins are. When you throw a carbon tax on a profit margin that is already small, it is likely that more companies will have no choice but to opt out of projects because they won’t be able to make any money. The potential loss to our economy is huge.
Over the last two years, my Conservative colleagues and I have asked the Liberal government many times to tell us how much a middle-class family will pay in new taxes, and each time the Liberals have refused to tell Canadians.
It wasn’t until recently that we found out in a report released by the Parliament Budget Officer that the Liberal carbon tax will reduce Canada’s GDP by $10 billion per year by 2022.
We have also repeatedly asked how much the Liberals’ carbon tax will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the prime minister and the minister of the environment have refused to answer.
If the government won’t tell us the cost of their carbon tax and can’t demonstrate how it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, how can they expect Canadians to pay this new tax?
It is clear that a carbon tax will continue to do far more harm than good for our province and country. It is time for us to stand up and say yes to projects like Kinder Morgan and no to a carbon tax. Our gas prices, and the price of everything else, will only continue to go up if we don’t.