About that revenue


As we’ve explained before, any reference the Harper government makes to “revenue” when trying to criticize the NDP’s cap-and-trade proposal is a red herring. By the Harper government’s own logic, it simply doesn’t matter whether cap-and-trade results in public or private revenue. According to the Conservatives, anything that establishes a price on carbon—as any kind of cap-and-trade system would—is a carbon tax.

With that said—and setting aside the fact that the Harper government still hasn’t substantiated that the cap-and-trade it advocated for and pursued wouldn’t have resulted in government revenue—here is a fun fact to add to the file.

The regulations that the Conservatives are using to deal with greenhouse gas emissions come with penalties for those who violate them.

Subject to the coming into force of section 72 of the Environmental Enforcement Act, chapter 14, under CEPA 1999, every person who commits an offence is liable, (a) on conviction on indictment, to a fine of not more than $1,000,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than three years, or to both; and (b) on summary conviction, to a fine of not more than $300,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both.

Where does the money from those fines go? Here is what the Canadian Environmental Protection Act says.

Subject to regulations made under section 278, all fines received by the Receiver General in respect of the commission of an offence under this Act, other than fines collected under the Contraventions Act, are to be credited to the Environmental Damages Fund, an account in the accounts of Canada, and used for purposes related to protecting, conserving or restoring the environment or for administering that Fund.

The court imposing the fine may recommend to the Minister that all or a portion of the fine credited to the Environmental Damages Fund be paid to a person or an organization specified by the court for a purpose referred to in subsection (1).

So fines are received by the Receiver General, which is responsible for accepting payments to the Government of Canada, and then credited to the Environmental Damages Fund. What’s the Environmental Damages Fund?

The EDF is a specified purpose account, administered by Environment Canada, to provide a mechanism for directing funds received as a result of fines, court orders, and voluntary payments to priority projects that will benefit our natural environment.

So fines become government funds which the government can then direct to priority projects.

I asked the Environment Minister’s office about this. Here is the explanation.

The court orders the fine. The fines are paid at the courthouse, to the Receiver General, to be remitted to the Environmental Damages Fund. As previously noted, [the Canadian Environmental Protection Act] exists to ensure compliance with environmental regulations, not to generate revenues. The NDP’s 2011 election platform planned to raise over $21 billion in tax revenue from their carbon scheme. Our government’s objective is to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions, not derive revenue from carbon consumption. We fully expects that all those affected by the regulations to comply with the regulations, and therefore do not predict any revenues from this source.

So at least so long as no one ever violates the Harper government’s regulations, the government will not derive any revenue.

Here is a list of projects the EDF has funded in the past. According to this page, there is a little under $39,000 in the fund presently.


About that revenue

  1. Why don’t you post the actual NDP campaign platform so people can draw their own conclusions instead of playing this game over what is the correct term to apply to an NDP proposal that would ultimately increase government revenues on carbon ?

    If the Harper Government renamed the HST to the Harmonized Sales and Trade System by Aaron Wherry’s logic the Conservatives could boast that they eliminated the Harmonized Sales Tax. Apparently it is not a tax if you call it by a different name.

    Seriously the efforts Mr.Wherry undertakes to defend the NDP are alarming.

      • Mr. Wherry,

        I appreciate your responding to my comments. However I should point out (given that you are such a stickler for details) that you did not actually post the NDP platform and allow your readers to draw their own conclusion based on the Conservative claims. What you did do was instead of posting the platform you instead cherry picked the NDP carbon tax (sorry cap and trade) revenue numbers from the NDP platform which you proceeded to apply your own personal political commentary on.

        In other words, rather then fairly and transparently presenting both sides and allowing your readers to decide who was correct, you instead decided to be judge, jury and executioner and labelled the claims as “a farce” because that is how you choose to view them. In other words you editorialized in a partisan manner based on your own views.

        I don’t have any issue with partisan commentary but did feel the need to comment on the ongoing political bias in your columns.

        • Here are links to the NDP’s 2008 and 2011 platforms and Thomas Mulcair’s leadership platform (and Brian Topp’s criticism of Mr. Mulcair’s proposal): http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/09/21/a-rough-guide-to-the-conservatives-carbon-tax-farce/

          I believe my readers are smart enough to read what I write and click on the links that I provide and decide for themselves what they think about both the issue at hand and what I have written about it.

          • So if you truly believe that your readers are “smart enough” to decide for themselves what they think then why not simply say “Here are the accusations made by the Conservatives and here is the NDP election platform as it appeared – you decide” this would provoke legitimate debate and discussion.

            But instead YOU CHOOSE to arbitrarily declare the issue as “a farce” or in other words you decided to side with the NDP even though you yourself have confirmed there was $ 21.5 BILLION in proposed NDP carbon taxes (cap and trade or whatever you want to call it) revenues in the NDP platform. Or in other words, you decide it is a farce according to you. Do you see the difference?

            Is this really the roll of supposedly non partisan journalists to arbitrarily pick a side? Or is the roll to present facts without personal judgment and bias and allow your readers to decide?

          • So you see no farce that Harper was advocating cap and trade himself just a while back? He didn’t describe it as a carbon tax then. Any bells going off, anything?

    • Cap and Trade and a carbon tax are different – wiki them and you will see. They both put a price on carbon. Harper is using regulation which, if the stupid reasoning he’s using could also be described as a tax because it imposes costs in order to conform to the regulations. The joke is that he knows better, he calls himself an economist but he thinks people are so stupid they will swallow his nonsense. What is alarming is how many people are that stupid.

      • Different according to who ? Wiki is now our guiding light ? To some of us, if it means that we as consumers or taxpayer’s pay more money on something that ends up increasing government revenues, we view that as a tax. You can dress it up with a fancy name like “cap and trade” but that does not mean that all Canadians will agree with that name. The upside is that we can have a productive debate on it. I just find it disappointing that some of the Ottawa based media feel the need to take a side instead of reporting the facts and allowing readers to decide. That to me is the real farce in what Mr. Wherry is doing.

        • I was suggesting something simple for you. The best stuff I’ve read on it is by the American Enterprise Institute, the conservative think tank. Over the three ways to deal with carbon emissions, Cap and Trade, carbon tax and regulation, they favour the carbon tax. Harper has made a productive discussion on this impossible after demonizing the carbon tax over his promotion of the cap and trade a few years back. He is now demonizing cap and trade while offering us his half hearted attempt at regulation. You’re being snookered if you think he’s doing anything honest on this subject.

          • First off, thank you for an informative and very well constructed response, it is appreciated. My concern on this issue comes from a different angle. The carbon debate, from my perspective at least, is a legitimate one.

            However that does not change that it is factually accurate that the NDP did propose to raise $ 21.5 BILLION dollars in increased revenues on Carbon. This was not a farce as Wherry wrongly claims, nor is it false or misleading to point this out as the NDP continue to claim. It is actually false and misleading for the NDP to claim that there was NOT a $ 21.5 BILLION Carbon revenue proposal in the NDP platform. Funny though how Mr. Wherry does not point out that particular “farce” from the NDP when they try and run and hide from their own political platform.

            Why does the media NEVER ask Mulcair why he does not defend this part of the NDP platform? Why do they allow Mulcair to be silent on it when it clearly exists in the NDP platform ? Funny how you never hear that question. The real farce is that NDP now try and hide from that $ 21.5 BILLION Carbon commitment in their campaign platform and the more partisan members of the Ottawa media are helping the NDP to cover tracks by suggesting the Conservatives are wrong to raise the subject even though it can be proven that the NDP has this in the platform. That is the real farce.

            I don’t actually have a problem with partisan influences in the media – after all Canada now has the Sun News network however credit to Sun News they at least have the integrity to admit their political bias and do not masquerade as supposedly “non partisan” media as Mr. Wherry does. Unless of course Mr. Wherry has previously admitted his political biases and if that is the case then I will be the first to apologize, however I suspect the answer is no and this charade will continue.

          • Sorry – got to call you on regurgitating con talking points. You’ve done an admirable job of trying to disguise them but you have to realize we have been hearing them non stop for weeks no so they practically light up when you type them.

          • “even though you yourself have confirmed there was $ 21.5 BILLION in
            proposed NDP carbon taxes (cap and trade or whatever you want to call
            it) revenues in the NDP platform.”

            ” It is actually false and misleading for the NDP to claim that there
            was NOT a $ 21.5 BILLION Carbon revenue proposal in the NDP platform.
            Funny though how Mr. Wherry does not point out that particular “farce”
            from the NDP when they try and run and hide from their own political
            platform. ”

            Come back when you’ve got your story straightened out.
            Oh, and that $65/tonne price Harper was talking about? That was over $35 BILLION at 2008 emission levels.

  2. Laws can be changed Dumbledore[ or ignored] ~ minister Fudge

    My new nickname for Kent. It’s a great handle for this particular minister. Although i suppose quite a few will prefer to stick with POS – it’s shorter for one thing.

    • POS nailed it for me. Not letting the NDP attend an event and then attacking them for not attending said event – that is the behavior of a POS,

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