Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Harper gassy on BC carbon tax

Amusing as it may be to see Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper campaigning against conservative Liberal B.C. premier Gordon Campbell, it should be pointed out Harper's understanding of Campbell's carbon tax is lousy.

“Every politician in history who wants to impose a new tax claims that it's either revenue neutral or it's temporary. It's not true,” Harper was reported as saying during a September 8 visit to the Lower Mainland. “Everybody knows, especially in British Columbia, that that kind of carbon tax is not revenue neutral on the average working family.”

But while the provincial tax, which added 2.34 cents a litre to the price of gasoline starting on July 1, is supposed to be “revenue neutral" for the government, which promises to return in the form of tax cuts every dollar it raises, it was never supposed to be “revenue neutral” for any given family.

How each person or family is affected will depend on their income, how much they drive and how fuel efficient their vehicle is, according to B.C.'s 2008-2009 budget documents. A low-income family burning a lot of fuel in a gas guzzler is going to come out much worse than a high-income family that gets around by bicycle or bus.

The B.C. tax shift will encourage everyone to adopt greener practices, said Ian Bruce, a climate change specialist with the David Suzuki Foundation. “It provides all British Columbians the opportunity to come out economically ahead by making green choices,” he said. “Our current system rewards polluters. There's no economic incentive to shift to greener technologies.”

Asked about Harper's attack on the B.C. tax, Bruce said, “I just think it's obviously disappointing to have any political candidate criticize a government that has shown the leadership and the honesty to put in place a policy that's essential to address the threat of global warming.”

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus