Stephen Harper’s tax on everything

by Aaron Wherry

Astute reader PJ Partington reminds me of this speech the Prime Minister delivered on May 29, 2008 in London, England. The relevant bits have been added to this compilation, but the speech is remarkable enough that it deserves its own recognition.

For the first time ever, we are establishing a regulatory framework that will impose mandatory emissions reduction targets across the spectrum of Canadian industry.  Industries will be expected to produce 18 per cent less greenhouse gasses per unit of production in 2010 compared to 2006, and those targets will get tougher by two per cent each year, each and every year.  This will lead – and this is important – to absolute reductions in emissions, not just reduce carbon intensity.  It will lead to an absolute 20 per cent reduction, as I’ve said, by 2020.  Canadian industries that do not meet their emission reduction targets will be required to do one of three things.  They will have access to a domestic carbon trading system which will include offset credits for non-industrial practices that reduce emissions.  We eventually hope to participate in a North American trading regime, depending on what action the United States takes, and I’ll talk about that in a second.  We likewise hope to participate someday in a more mature and robust emissions trading regime internationally.  As well, industries will have access to credits through the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism…

I should mention that while our plan will effectively establish a price on carbon of $65 a tonne, growing to that rate over the next decade, our Government has opted not to apply carbon taxes.  

Carbon taxes will establish certainty about price, but not about outcomes.  The central purpose of our plan is to create certainty about emissions reductions, not to raise revenue for the government.  Our plan will compel industry not just to pay for their carbon emissions but to actually reduce them.  Industry has told us they want and they need certainty.  Our framework provides that.  Clear targets, realistic timelines, fair across the board application.  Now industry knows what they need to do and when they need to do it.

Apparently, at this point, Mr. Harper saw a difference between cap-and-trade and a carbon tax. Of course, this was three years before Mr. Harper’s government decided that any price on carbon amounted to a carbon tax. By his government’s current logic, this was Stephen Harper proposing a carbon tax, even as he dismissed the option.

For the sake of comparison, Stephane Dion proposed a price on carbon that reached $40 per tonne within four years with a “gradual rise” thereafter. Mr. Harper apparently saw a price of $65 per tonne established over 10 years.

If you’d like to see Mr. Harper say it, here is a short clip from this speech that someone has now uploaded to YouTube.

And here again is everything you need to know about the Conservatives’ carbon tax farce.




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Stephen Harper’s tax on everything

  1. Wow — A link to a Harper speech from http://www.pm.gc.ca

    It does not get any better than this. Thank you AW, Thank you PJ Partington.

    Just let the sunshine in, face it with a grin.

  2. I still maintain that it’s terribly unfair to keep comparing what Stephen Harper says to what Stephen Harper said, as though they’re the same person.

    SHAME!

    • It’s the politics of personal destruction – now can we get back to that bearded, job killing Mulcair?

      • No, Harper’s the one destroying our country.

  3. Under the Liberals, GHG emissions skyrocketed. Under Harper, since 2005, GHG emissions have – get this – *decreased* by 5%. His record on fighting global warming is unbelievably good (literally; due cognitive dissonance his critics simply cannot accept this). That figure is from IPCC, by the way, go ahead and check for yourself.

    It gets better: Canada’s population has, due to a baby boom and record high levels of immigration, increased by 1.2% annually – GHG emissions go down while GDP and population increase substantially. It’s a freaking amazing record and even *I* can hardly believe it.
    Combined with the Great Lakes Cleanup (cleaning up toxins that Paul Martin’s ships dumped for years, incidentally), Fast-Start financing to fight AGW in developing countries ($1.2 billion over 3 years as per Copenhagen Accord), dramatically improved air quality, and more National Park designations, Harper is by far the greenest PM in Canadian history, and that is a matter of evidence-based analysis.
    Carbon tax farce my clavicle. If Harper is anti-cap & trade today and this conflicts with a nearly 5 year old speech he made, well, so what: his record fighting GHG emissions is so awesome since that speech that cap & trade may no longer be necessary.
    You look ridiculous clinging to this stale, false narrative that Harper is anti-environment. He actually *doubled* Environment Canada spending in his first two years in office – go ahead and look it up yourself. In fact, go do that right now Aaron, do what I did: do your own research and start at Environment Canada’s website instead of recycling a false, bitter, envious narrative.

    • Wow – emissions down during a major recession – that’s a shocker.

      • Neil’s been reading up on his jeff Rubin…and then putting two and two together to reach five. Which i think isn’t all that uncommon with him.

        • He is a known, known…:-)

    • Emissions have decreased because under Harper the economy has tanked. Are you sure you want to take credit for that?

    • Could you provide links please? I’d like to check this out as you say, but I’m having trouble finding the information. I’m probably using the wrong keywords or something.

      • I think the password might be something like: Harper, a genius whatever you guys say.

        • Nope. That only goes up to 2009. Three years can mean a lot of change in emissions. Neil’s found information that tells us our emissions now are 5% less than in 2005. I’m curious where he’s found it.

        • Okay. That’s more recent, but it’s from the government arm. Given this government’s record when it comes to facts, I think I’d rather see the IPCC report Neil’s found.

          • When you don’t like the facts, dismiss the facts.

          • So you know that they’re facts, then? Not simply assertions? How is that?

    • Carbon emissions have also gone down due to hydraulic fracking. You don’t have to take my word for it, you can look it up.

      • Seems like Neil’s been standing a little too close to those compressors.

    • Harper’s policies have also been 100% effective at preventing elephants from rampaging through rural Canada.

    • Under Harper, since 2005, GHG emissions have….decreased by 5%…..It gets better: Canada’s population has, due to a baby boom and record high levels of immigration, increased by 1.2% annually – GHG emissions go down while GDP and population increase substantially.

      Thanks for posting those numbers Neil, they are indeed very impressive. When you were assembling them did you happen to come across any particulars regarding how this was achieved?

      Seems to me that it would be good to know which public policy choices had the greatest effect and which had little to no effect, as well as the costs of those initiatives, both direct and indirect.

      It would also be important to know what other factors contributed to this very impressive outcome – that is knowledge that might come in useful in future similar circumstances.

  4. In a world where politicians frequently promise us the moon and stars, Mr Harper promises to reach them by a specific date, 2020, and a specific plan. How does he propose to get there? By waiting for the US and the UN to give him permission – some call that leadership, i suppose? But Mr Harper is no ordinary common or garden variety of aspirational politician – no sir! He can turn on a dime and eat himself whole, and frequently does. Others who continue to feel that the issue needs addressing regardless of which way the political winds are blowing in Washington are CRAZY! OUT TO SCREW EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE! Only Mr Harper it seems is allowed to promise the universe date stamped and all,fail miserably, and then turn around and castigate those for wanting to reach higher and further from the very beginning.

    Can we now conclude that the full court press against Mr Dion was rooted wholly in political expediency, and had not one scintila, not one shred of legitimacy to it?

  5. Oh sure! Bash Stephen Harper just because he’s a lying hypocrite. I suppose next you’ll smear his utter lack of transparency and accountability. Honestly!!

  6. Harper is an economist. He was in London England.

    It was an externality. Treat accordingly.

    • You mean Straussian Fascist.

  7. Dreadfully sorry but what Harper says in 2008 stays in 2008. When has he ever been pinned down by anything from the past? How about never? The point is, who controls the PR machinery, such as it is, which our media offer to our politicians? Incumbency brings enormous perks, not least of which is first dibs on calling the other guy out. Consider a fresh illustration of all that: the Flaherty-Page-Trudeau triangle as I call it. Flaherty says Mr. Page is usually wrong with his numbers. Well, that is not true at all. But no punishment for Flaherty. No, instead he goes on to dismiss Mr. Trudeau as a policy lightweight by commenting, ‘nice hair.’ What’s wrong with this picture? Well, Mr. Trudeau is wrongly called out for being weak on policy, when it is actually Flaherty, Harper et al who are way out on policy. Sorry for the digression but it is so important and quite germane to this present case, after all. Again, Mr. Trudeau taken to task for being weak on policy (supposedly)….when did you ever see Harper speak policy during a campaign or run a campaign based on policy? So, 2008 doesn’t matter. Incumbency is everything and it includes false gravitas and the whole ticket.

  8. http://m.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/economy-lab/theres-a-dirty-secret-in-tory-greenhouse-gas-plan/article614480/?service=mobile

    Lots of interesting source material out there if you aren’t inclined to take NE’s word for it.
    If i’m not mistaken the tories response to stuff like this has been to resurrect that old liberal kyoto ploy[ lord these tories are shameless] namely the we should get lots more credit for our forest based carbon sinks…now that ought to fill any hole.

  9. Are you ever going to do the Liberals “Greatest Hits”?

    You know, like:

    1) ZAP…you’re frozen.
    2) Being opposed to the FTA and NAFTA.
    3) Being opposed to the GST.
    4) Being opposed to Meech Lake to being big adocates of Charlottetown.
    5) Supporting/starting the war in Afghanistan, and then opposing it.
    6) Criticizing the government for implementing the Liberal plan for handling Afghani prisoners.
    7) Going from aggressive corporate tax cutters to advocating corporate tax increases.
    8) Criticizing Harper for being closed to China to criticizing him for engaging China.
    9) And of course going from being one of the biggest advocates of carbon taxes, to utter silence on the issue.
    10) From being one of the biggest users of omnibus bills and opposing limiting them to well you know.

    • You would think that detractor’s of the Liberal party after so many years in power, and with such a reputation (somewhat deserved if often exaggerated) for bad behvaiour, would actually be able to come up with 10 ACTUAL instances of flip-flopping. Does memory gloss things over or has Harper really accomplished in a few short years what it took decades and the fevered imaginations of CPC hypocrites to do?

    • These would be terribly relevant if:

      A) The Liberals were governing the country
      B) The Liberals who did these things still being around/in charge of things/alive.

      Trudeau is dead. Why is that relevant in a discussion of what Stephen Harper et al have been harping on about CURRENTLY being a blatant contradiction of their position from just a few years ago. And without reasoned explanation–they just pretend that they have always been opposed to carbon pricing, just like we have always been at war with Eastasia.

      • There was an election which they won with a majority where they explicitly refuted their previous position.

        Once the tradeable carbon tax (i.e. cap-n-trade) was essentially permanently off the table in the United States, the Conservatives realized it would be economic suicide for Canada in the aftermath of the global economic crisis to contemplate a tradeable carbon tax.

        North America also has moved from what was thought to be a permanent natural gas deficit at the time Harper was making those statements, to essentially abundant natural gas supplies for many generations because of new technology since then, so abundant that the Mackenzie and Alaska Natural Gas Pipelines are both uneconomic. (Alaska gas will now be exported to Asia.) The simple substitution of natural gas for coal, and the evolution of the transportation industry (trucks, delivery vans) off of diesel to nat gas vehicles can achieve pretty much any Kyoto or Copenhagen inspired reduction in emissions.

        Cap-n-trade is no longer necessary for a generation (or two) just with natural gas substitution for coal and diesel over time.

        • Where did they explicitly refute their position in the 2011 election platform? I saw no mention of abjuring carbon pricing in their platform. I just checked.

          Carbon pricing is not economic suicide. If you do it transparently, gradually and with offsetting tax reductions (my preference), the economic impact is minimal. BC has implemented a robust carbon tax and its economy has not demonstrably suffered for it. Alberta has also implemented a partial carbon tax. Furthermore, there is already an effective carbon tax of ~$40/tonne on gasoline, and our economy has not imploded.

          Harper has not made any argument about natural gas obviating the need for emissions reductions. You’re putting words in his mouth.

          And if Canada’s emissions remain below the cap path set in place by, say, Harper’s commitment to reduce emissions below 2005 levels, then tradeable emission credits would have zero value (supply>demand means glut which means a price of zero–basic micro). In that case, there is no harm in putting a cap and trade scheme in place. Unless of course you are being disingenuous in your belief that we will meet our commitments per Harper, or Copenhagen.

          • BC has just exempted the entire LNG industry from the carbon tax and from its emission regime. All the carbon emissions from LNG liquifications will NOT be taxed. The LNG industry blows up BC’s carbon emission reduction plan, so they are planning to just ignore these emissions and hopes nobody notices or cares, and well, most people, even the greenies, will turn a blind eye, because of the revenue at stake for the province in terms of taxation and royalties from the LNG industry.

            Not to mention all those temporary Chinese workers BC is importing to dig up thermal coal in BC to ship to China to burn.

            BC stands for hypocrisy.

          • A couple things.

            First, I’m not familiar with the exemption for LNG. LNG was exempted from the start, was it not? I’m not sure I buy your argument that the province is waiving a tax in order to collect royalties. Why not waive the royalty and leave the tax in place?

            On coal–carbon tax only applies to fossil fuels burned within the jurisdiction. Coal mined for export would not face carbon tax (except on the fuel burned to extract it).

            Not sure how BC is hypocritical and Harper is not. BC standing by their position 85% is objectively less hypocritical than an unexplained, unargued 180 on a policy. Never mind the new solution being command and control regulation from the party that typically argues for reductions in government meddling. All we get is this “We were always at war with Eastasia” routine.

          • Honestly, I couldn’t find any mention of an LNG exemption from the carbon tax. Do you have a source?

        • The Reformers stole the election with bribes, misleading voters through fraudulent calls, riding “stuffing”, voter intimidation and illegal overspending. Same as their masters the GOP.

    • I keep forgetting that the Tories base their governing on the template put forward by the Liberals. As the Tories always said “We’re going to do things just like the Liberals always have, and anyone who ever dares to demand better can stuff it!”

    • That’s damning, and the Liberals were eventually punished for their misdeeds by being relegated to third party status. Come to think of it, so were Mulroney’s PCs when their graft machine got too bloated. I can’t wait for this to come full circle on Harper’s group of thugs.

  10. Harper had to do the “Climate Change”/”Global Warming” dance back when mainstream people actually cared about this garbage. In 2009, Climategate occurred and it’s been downhill ever since. Now the Met Office in the U.K. has reported that Global Warming isn’t actually happening at all. The jig is up. The game is over. Harper can do what he always wanted to do and put this junk science into the rear-view mirror.

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