Navigating the farce, Joy Smith and Royal Galipeau - Macleans.ca

Navigating the farce, Joy Smith and Royal Galipeau

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An interesting exchange from the very end of yesterday’s debate on the budget.

Charlie Angus. Mr. Speaker, I had a great deal of respect for Jim Prentice. There was a man who stood up in the House and did not misinform people. He was a man one could say would never lie. Jim Prentice in 2009 stood up as part of the throne speech and said that the government would put a price on carbon. The present Minister of Foreign Affairs went to Montreal and said that the government would open a carbon trading institute in Montreal and “put a price on carbon”. Either they were making that up, they were lying or they thought the Canadian people were stupid, but that was the policy the government ran on: that it would put a price on carbon. I see the bobbleheads who are now repeating this misinformation, the lie about the so-called carbon tax, when the government had told the Canadian people that it was putting a price on carbon I would like to ask that hon. member, what happened to the commitment made by Jim Prentice, an honourable man in the House? Was that just cynicism on the government’s part or was he making it up?

Joy Smith. Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, the Prime Minister would never tax the public in any way, shape or form to that end. The fact of the matter is that I have never before been called a “bobblehead” and I take exception to that kind of analogy. I have had nine years of university. I have raised six children. I do not consider myself a bobblehead. I consider myself an intellectual person who works hard to raise the standard of everything I do, and I am saying great kudos to the government and our Prime Minister, who has protected this whole country from financial ruin when a lot of other countries have experienced economic downturns.

Dan Harris. Mr. Speaker, following up on the point that my colleague raised, Mr. Prentice made his comments in response to the Speech from the Throne. The Speech from the Throne actually did say that the government would put a price on carbon, and that price was $65 a tonne. If we take the total output, that would actually mean a $45 billion tax on carbon, which is more than double what the entire Conservative caucus is saying we are pitching. How do we square that circle?

Joy Smith. Mr. Speaker, how I square that circle is that we are living in the year 2012 and the Prime Minister has never, ever said anything about putting a tax on carbon. It is the NDP carbon tax that would raise groceries. It is the NDP carbon tax that would increase gas prices. That is—

Royal Galipeau. Mr. Speaker, the hon. member and I both ran in 2008 against a carbon tax. The party that ran on the carbon tax was relegated to a reduced caucus in the opposition. They are now stuck in the third corner. It is true that we talked about carbon trading with the United States. The United States would not trade. We cannot trade with ourselves, so that is the end of it.

The problem for Mr. Galipeau and Ms. Smith is that their party and government now consider “carbon trading” to be the same thing as a carbon tax. And while Mr. Harper didn’t talk about putting a tax on carbon, he did talk about putting a price on carbon. And so far as the Conservative party and the Harper government are now concerned, a price on carbon is a tax on carbon.

(There could be a discussion to be had about whether cap-and-trade should be pursued in Canada if the United States is not willing to do likewise—something Mr. Galipeau seems to suggest—but it’s a discussion that has been rendered moot by the Harper government’s primary arguments that putting a price on carbon is a carbon tax and a carbon tax is a terrible thing.)