With the Liberal government musing about imposing a carbon tax on gas prices, Ontario's Progressive Conservatives have launched a petition aimed at stopping the tax before it becomes a reality.
In Sudbury for pre-budget consultations Wednesday, interim Tory Leader Jim Wilson said families and businesses in the province can't afford another tax.
“We know the government may not be listening to what they've heard here in Sudbury, since they've already determined they're going to raise taxes to pay for their reckless spending,” Wilson told reporters. “A carbon tax will raise the cost of almost everything … We're going to force them to hear what people across Ontario really have to say.”
Wilson said if the Liberals bring in a 10-cent-per-litre carbon tax on gas, which is what Australia did, it would cost taxpayers about $2 billion. If they follow B.C.'s example and impose one worth seven cents a litre, it would cost $1.3 billion.
“Liberal history shows the carbon tax won't accomplish any objective other than picking everyone's pockets,” he said.
“Carbon taxes in other jurisdictions have not resulted in any significant reduction in emissions … It just drives up the price of everything.”
Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli, who's running for the party's leadership, said with growth forecasts and job numbers both taking a hit, the province's economy is too fragile to withstand another tax. News that the Bank of Canada lowered interest rates to 0.75 per cent to try and stimulate growth is another sign of trouble.
“This was a terrible shock to the economy,” Fedeli said. “When you have a province with the highest energy rates in North America, the highest payroll taxes, a new payroll tax — the Ontario Registered Pension Plan — coming in … this is the absolute worst conceivable time to bring in another tax.”
Sudbury PC candidate Paula Peroni summed up her opposition this way:
“There are three things wrong with a carbon tax. The first is that it's a tax. The second is that it's a tax, and the third is that it's a tax.”
After the news conference, Liberal MPP Eleanor McMahon emerged from the pre-budget hearings to say no decisions have yet been made on the tax. But she admitted the province is looking “at all options” to fight global warming.
“And I will say this: countries around the world are looking at carbon taxes, and as part of our conversation, as part of our commitment to combating climate change, it behooves us to examine all options,” McMahon said. “But no decision has been made. There is no carbon tax in place, despite what the Opposition will tell you.”