Ted Talks: A Response to the “Conservative Plan”

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Ted Falk, MP for Provencher, prepares a weekly blog for the media covering Provencher. In his most recent blog he outlines the “Conservative Plan” for the fall election. This blog is written in response to that Plan.

The plan speaks to family values, immigration, trade, national defence and crime, implying clearly that the Conservatives can do better than the Liberals in this regard. Perhaps they can. Clearly the plan, as Mr. Falk presents it, is not complete. Mr. Falk acknowledges this, promising more detail in the months ahead.

It is worth noting that the Conservatives hope to form the government after this fall’s election. In spite of that, there is no election platform on their website. By contrast, the Green Party platform is already well developed, and readily accessible on the Green Party website.

What is evident from the Plan, as presented by Mr. Falk, is that the Conservative focus is on discrediting the Liberals. Their focus is not their own plan. The first  item is “Repeal Justin Trudeau’s Carbon Tax”, without offering any alternative. The second item is to balance the budget so taxes can be lowered. The third item is to eliminate the GST on home heating. A Conservative Government will “champion our energy sector”. This championing will include building a new west to east pipeline and the Trans-Mountain Pipeline expansion.

One needs to wonder whether, indeed, Mr. Falk and his colleagues have thought through this plan or whether they have simply added promises that they think will attract votes. Many Conservatives still remember the 2008 election campaign in which Stephane Dion proposed a price on Carbon. Dion proposed than that this tax would be offset by a reduction in income tax. The Conservatives at that time  called this a tax grab and this effective campaigning contributed to a Conservative majority win. If you’re going to balance the budget AND lower taxes, there will need to be a lot of program cutting.

The cancelling of the Carbon Tax and the elimination of the GST on home heating makes no sense. It is likely that there are those who really do not trust the Liberals when they say the Carbon Tax will be revenue neutral. It is likely that there are those who genuinely believe that this is a tax grab. If that is the case, when the Conservatives form the government, the Conservatives are in a position to ensure that it will be revenue neutral. Just do it!

The Conservatives have said that the Carbon tax is a job killing tax. Why should a tax on energy – a tax which effectively increases the cost of energy – be considered job killing. In Manitoba we have had a payroll tax since 1982. Other provinces have a similar tax. This tax has been collected by NDP, Liberal and Conservative governments. Such a tax increases the cost of labour, and is, in my opinion, a job killing tax. An energy tax is not.

Most of the revenue collected by our government comes from our income tax. For the wage earner this means she needs to earn more in order to take the same amount of pay home. The current income tax is a tax on labour, and increases the cost of labour to the employer. This, in my opinion, is a job killing tax.

The income tax, for the businessman is a tax on profit. Depending how you look at it, that too could be a job killing tax.

Most economists believe a Carbon tax is a good thing. Preston Manning thinks a tax on Carbon is a good tax. The Fraser Institute has significant criticism of the Trudeau Carbon Tax, but acknowledges that if done right, it is a good tax. Why then, in it’s opposition to the Carbon Tax, does the Conservative Party not point to the shortcomings in the tax as put forward by Mr. Trudeau?

Similarly, I do not begrudge the Conservatives wanting to put more money in the pockets of Canadians facing an affordability crisis. But why do this by eliminating the GST on home heating? Why do this by reducing the cost of home heating? The financially challenged Canadian does not care whether that saving is on his home heating bill, whether it is part of his GST rebate or whether it comes in some other way. But what the Conservative plan does is subsidize home heating at the very time when we should be creating incentives to reduce energy needs in home heating.

And then there’s the pipelines. Why is it, that when there is a general move away from fossil fuels in the world, we need to increase our capacity to export our oil? The Alberta Oil companies gambled that if they would increase their capacity to extract bitumen, the pipelines would be there to carry this bitumen. Well they gambled and lost. Now they are blaming Ottawa for this. Why do we need to export more oil, when it is increasingly evident that oil is a scarce resource. What we should do is save it so our children, who will still need to heat their homes in 50 years, have the fuel to do so.

The Green Party policy is clear. We tax the harmful activity (cigarettes, alcohol, pollution, environmental destruction, the extraction of irreplaceable resources). We don’t tax good activity (earning wages, making profit).                                                                    

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