The Canadian Press reports that “Ottawa says New Brunswick’s proposed carbon tax passes the federal smell test.” Instead of paying the national levy locals will pay a provincial one come April. But it’s not a new tax. The story adds that “the province is also cutting the gas tax to minimize the cost on consumers.” So essentially they just renamed the old gas tax a “carbon tax” without raising the price of gas. So what’s the point? Unless it’s a cunning plan not to tax carbon so people won’t vote you out.
Which is the CP take: It’s all about the politics. They note that “New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs was among the conservative premiers challenging that [federal carbon tax] policy in court. But he changed his mind after nearly two-thirds of New Brunswick voters picked a party supportive of a carbon tax in October’s federal election.” Except of course they didn’t really; they voted for a tax too small to matter and have told pollsters they won’t pay a dime to save the planet they claim to believe is in peril.
As we have commented repeatedly, the federal carbon tax is already too small to have any meaningful impact on consumers’ behaviour given that there aren’t many substitutes for gasoline in your car or truck. And even the Ecofiscal Commission’s call to hike it from the current $20 a tonne (4.4 cents/litre) not to the current proposed $50/tonne (11 cents/litre) but $210 (44 cents/litre) was, for all its spurious precision, completely spurious because rebating the money would just let people buy more expensive gas.
The New Brunswick decision is even more transparent. Instead of raising the price of gas now and lowering it a bit later through a rebate, you simply don’t raise it, instead giving the existing tax a shiny new name. That way, because incentives matter and you just deliberately didn’t change them, nothing at all will happen.
If we had devised this plan we would be accused of not taking the climate crisis/global melting thing seriously. And reasonably enough. But when Blaine Higgs devises it, and Justin Trudeau gives it two green thumbs up, is it not therefore reasonable to say either that they are not taking global warming seriously or that they are just not serious people? Including those journalists who endlessly call the crisis real, then applaud this sort of timid dissembling.