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The carbon tax and energy affordability should be centre-stage in the next federal election

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All sorts of carbon tax advocates – environmentalists, academics, political insiders – are saying the following: all those annoying little Canadians who are so vulgar and uneducated as to object to carbon taxes should shut up once and for all.

Their assertion is: the Supreme Court has decided that the federal government can tell the provinces what to do, so the subject is settled.

But no, that is not quite true. What is true, is that IF a federal government wants to impose a carbon tax, it can.

The SCC majority decision is written by a most Trudeau-esque Chief Justice Wagner. In the decision the Chief Justice writes – in a dramatic overreach beyond law to the realm of policy – that climate change is “an existential threat to human life in Canada and around the world”. He then uses that as the basis for his affirmation of the federal government’s use of the Peace, Order and Good Government clause in the constitution.

Fine. We should all be troubled that the SCC has done this, but so be it. For my part, I thoroughly disagree with this decision, as I wrote in my previous blog post.

But the effect of the decision is not to bury the carbon tax issue, notwithstanding the arrogance and the climate alarmism of 6 of the 9 Supreme Court Justices.

What the SCC actually did is kick the carbon tax issue right back onto the front page of national politics.

What?

Yes, thanks to the SCC decision, we are all now once again talking about the carbon tax.

The fact that the Trudeau government has been told it can impose a carbon tax, does not mean that any successor federal government must impose a carbon tax.

Canadians do believe in climate change. I do.

And all of us are told constantly by many – from the likes of Greta Thunberg, and Justin Trudeau (and now) the Chief Justice of the SCC – that climate change is an existential threat. And now we are told that it must be addressed by carbon taxes.

Well …  no, actually.

That isn’t a logical sequencing of things. A belief in climate change doesn’t require a belief in it being an existential threat nor does it require an embrace of carbon taxes.

Making that point is hard, in the midst of all the noise.

But politicians with the courage to stand up for Canadians can make this point.

Politicians who care about the issue of affordable energy can, and should, make the case against carbon taxes.

The anti-carbon tax fight requires a pushback against the establishment interests who have a platform in mainstream media and elsewhere. It requires a pushback against the slew of policy wonks who like to say “carbon taxes just make so much sense.” And it requires a pushback against the many people who insult everyday Canadians who are sick and tired of watching their taxes go up.

If politicians of conviction have the courage to mount such a pushback, if they are prepared to listen to Canadians instead of trying to shut them down, they have a shot to articulate an alternative vision that is in the interests of Canadians’ long-term economic well-being.

In an upcoming blog, I will offer some suggestions for that alternative vision.

Click here for more articles from Dan McTeague of Canadians for Affordable energy

Dan McTeague | President, Canadians for Affordable Energy

 

An 18 year veteran of the House of Commons, Dan is widely known in both official languages for his tireless work on energy pricing and saving Canadians money through accurate price forecasts. His Parliamentary initiatives, aimed at helping Canadians cope with affordable energy costs, led to providing Canadians heating fuel rebates on at least two occasions.

Widely sought for his extensive work and knowledge in energy pricing, Dan continues to provide valuable insights to North American media and policy makers. He brings three decades of experience and proven efforts on behalf of consumers in both the private and public spheres. Dan is committed to improving energy affordability for Canadians and promoting the benefits we all share in having a strong and robust energy sector.

 

An 18 year veteran of the House of Commons, Dan is widely known in both official languages for his tireless work on energy pricing and saving Canadians money through accurate price forecasts. His Parliamentary initiatives, aimed at helping Canadians cope with affordable energy costs, led to providing Canadians heating fuel rebates on at least two occasions. Widely sought for his extensive work and knowledge in energy pricing, Dan continues to provide valuable insights to North American media and policy makers. He brings three decades of experience and proven efforts on behalf of consumers in both the private and public spheres. Dan is committed to improving energy affordability for Canadians and promoting the benefits we all share in having a strong and robust energy sector.

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Alberta

Alberta introduces bill for $2.8 billion in inflation-fighting payouts, rollbacks

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Edmonton – The Alberta government has introduced legislation to implement inflation-fighting rebates and payouts announced recently by Premier Danielle Smith.

Affordability Minister Matt Jones says the changes allow for help for families, seniors and the vulnerable soon.

Middle- to lower-income families, those with a household income of less than $180,000 a year, are to get $600 over six months for each child under 18 years of age.

The same income threshold and benefit applies to seniors, and the payout will also go to those on disability supports.

There will be electricity rebates and the 13 per cent provincial tax on gasoline is suspended from January to June.

The total cost of the package is pegged at $2.8 billion.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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Business

What the latest Bank of Canada rate hike means for inflation, consumers

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By Tara Deschamps

The Bank of Canada hiked its key policy rate by half a percentage point to 4.25 per cent — the highest it’s been since January 2008 — on Wednesday in its final rate decision of a year that has been marked by stubbornly high inflation and rapidly increasing interest rates.

The bank, which has made a steady succession of large hikes over the course of the year, is widely believed to be nearing an end to the increases.

In announcing the rate hike Wednesday, the bank said it will consider whether the rate “needs to rise further to bring supply and demand back into balance and return inflation to target.”

Here’s a look at what the rate means, how analysts are interpreting it and what it could mean for consumers.

What is the key policy rate and what does it do?

The key policy rate, also known as the target for the overnight rate, is how much interest the Bank of Canada wants commercial banks to charge when lending each other money overnight to settle daily balances.

Knowing how much it costs to lend money, or deposit it with the central bank, helps set the interest rates charged on things like loans and mortgages.

Lowering the rate generally makes borrowing money more affordable, while raising it makes such activities more expensive.

Why is the bank using the rate to target inflation?

Inflation is a measure of how much prices of goods and services are rising or falling. High inflation is a sign of an economy that’s overheating.

Canada’s annual inflation rate reached a peak of 8.1 per cent in June, the highest level in four decades.

It has eased since then, reaching 6.9 per cent in September, but didn’t budge in October. And shoppers have seen higher prices for common expenses like groceries. Grocery prices have been rising at the fastest pace in decades and were 11 per cent higher in October than they were a year ago.

Economists and the central bank want to see a further easing, which is why interest rates have been rising so quickly in the hope of cooling consumer spending patterns.

“Inflation is still too high and short-term inflation expectations remain elevated,” the bank said in its announcement. “The longer that consumers and businesses expect inflation to be above the target, the greater the risk that elevated inflation becomes entrenched.”

What does this mean for my mortgage?

Mortgage rates tend to increase or decrease in tandem with interest rates.

When Canadians buy homes there are two kinds of mortgages they can select — fixed rate or variable. Fixed-rate mortgages allow borrowers to lock in the interest rate they will pay for a set amount of time, while variable-rate mortgages can fluctuate.

Allison Van Rooijen, vice-president of consumer credit at Meridian Credit Unit, estimates the rate hike Wednesday will bump payments on a $450,000 variable-rate mortgage on a 25-year amortization up another $130 or so every month. Since the beginning of 2022, rising rates have amounted to roughly $1,000 more per month since the beginning of 2022.

“Because of the high cost of housing in Canada and years of low borrowing rates, Canadians are carrying record-levels of debt on mortgages and lines of credit, so it’s really important that people go through their expenses and look to scale back discretionary spending where they can,” she said in an email.

She recommends people double down on efforts to pay off debt with higher interest rates as much as possible and if they are running into trouble making payments, discuss whether switching to another format of mortgage is right for them.

Does this mean interest rates will stop rising soon?

Shortly after the announcement, many economists predicted the bank isn’t done with hikes yet, even though the language in the statement signalled the possibility of holding steady at 4.25 per cent.

BMO Capital Markets chief economist Douglas Porter said a further hike of about 25 basis points is likely still to come because he’s concerned about the “stickiness of underlying inflation.”

James Orlando of TD Economics agreed. He expects the bank will deliver its final rate hike for the foreseeable future in January, bringing the measure to 4.5 per cent.

“We don’t think the Bank of Canada is done yet, but it is quickly approaching the end of its hiking cycle,” he wrote in a note to investors.

“As all Canadians know, the rapid rate hikes over 2022 have caused a dramatic adjustment in the real estate market, and we are starting to see this in consumer spending data. We expect this to continue to weigh on the economy over 2023 as the lagged effects of past hikes filter through.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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