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Worse than a lie

26 Jun 2024 | News Roundup

Canada’s Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault got into quite a spat with the Parliamentary Budget Officer at the beginning of June over information they had provided to him that showed they were lying about the economic impact of their carbon tax and that they had forbidden him to reveal. They deployed all the usual nasty tools of denial, evasion and partisanship, only to be forced by an impending motion to release the data and it was even worse than we thought. As Blacklock’s Reporter put it, “The figures contradicted repeated claims by cabinet that its tax was revenue neutral and created jobs.” And how: it showed that the tax would knock something between $20 billion and $30 billion a year off GDP. And they knew it. But it's important to grasp that the Minister and his colleagues are not hoaxers caught in a lie but zealots with a higher cause; in releasing the figures Guilbeault continued to insist that the tax was for our own good, indeed a bargain. Just not one the peasants were well-placed to understand.

The Minister’s main line of defence was “This analysis does not take into account the benefits of investing to fight climate change.” We are tempted to say yes it does, since they are zero. He had others, of course, being a politician, including his exceptionally feeble response to a reporter’s question “Why did you wait until today to release it?”, namely “Some of those data have never been published before.” Um yes and the question was why. But the main point is that they have arcane knowledge of the secret benefits of this enormous sacrifice, and just don’t go talking much about the sacrifice lest it alarm the sheep.

So never mind insider headlines like “Environment Minister Guilbeault promotes a new policy director”. These deckchairs are awash. As Blacklock’s also pointed out:

“Cabinet for years has claimed the tax is revenue neutral and a net creator of jobs. ‘The price on pollution will create 19,000 jobs,’ then-Environment Minister Catherine McKenna wrote in a 2019 constituency newsletter What I’ve Learned While Fighting Climate Change.”

But here it is not impudent to ask what exactly it is that she learned. The Blacklock’s story continued:

“The claims were contradicted by a 2018 Budget Office report that predicted the carbon tax would cut economic production by at least 1.5 percent. ‘The federal government’s carbon pricing levy will generate a headwind for the Canadian economy,’ said the report Costing Budget 2018 Measures.”

And not it alone. A 2022 report from the Bank of Canada, which has a lot of trouble staying in its lane nowadays even though its key job of fighting inflation hasn’t exactly been going well either and thus produces documents with names like “Transition Scenarios For Analyzing Climate-Related Financial Risk”, warned that the fabled price on pollution or whatever name you give it could “lower global demand for Canadian goods and services which weighs on Canadian exports, GDP and inflation”. And it had the economic wit to explain that taxes put on corporations do not stay on corporations but are “passed through to consumers leading to higher prices for goods and services.” (Though some of the price is paid by employees in the form of lower wages and salaries and shareholders in the form of lower profits.)

Guilbeault is right to say these costs are gross not net, so if he can prove the carbon tax will prevent more than $20 to $30 billion in harm to the economy a year it is worthwhile. The question is, how could it possibly do such a thing and how would they know?

They think they do. The Environment Minister declared with spurious precision that “By acting to fight climate change we will avoid $23 billion of climate impacts”. But some opposition MP with at least some grasp of the situation asked:

“How many fewer droughts have we had as a result of the carbon tax? How many fewer floods have we had as a result of the carbon tax?”

Bingo. Because to make claims of the sort Guilbeault regularly does, you have to take one of those supposedly definitive, sophisticated, reliable computer models and punch in two scenarios, one in which Canada does not impose this tax and one in which it does, look at how different global GHG emissions are in consequence, calculate what difference this makes to the weather in Canada and then determine what this change in the weather does to the economic harm from floods, droughts, heatwaves, snowstorms, plagues of locusts and frogs that are avoided.

Any such calculation will reveal that the net impact is a rounding error, vanishingly close to zero, unless the modelers are sternly ordered to find something else or are such zealots that they don’t need to be told. And we say it with confidence because those same models showed, a few years back, that if every country in the world met their Paris Accord targets it would change global temperature in the year 2100 by roughly one-tenth of a degree Celsius. That’s by 2100. By 2050, far less than that amount. By 2030, some unmeasurably small trifle. So how can you save Canada $23 billion a year by that route, especially since we’re not talking about everyone doing it, just Canada, and we aren’t doing it anyway with the carbon tax at the level that it is?

Again, you might think Guilbeault was hiding the numbers because he knew he was busted. But he put them out with the usual swaggering assurance that they proved him right, so he has not grasped any of the above. He isn’t aware of the truth and lying, he’s a zealot who sees what he expects to see, and hides it because he doesn’t trust us to see as deeply as he does.

P.S. Finally his Parliamentary colleagues were reduced to asking the PBO whether he was muzzled across the board, which nobody was saying, a desperate rearguard action.

9 comments on “Worse than a lie”

  1. Dr. Robson
    Watch this, you can start about 4:30 . Think about the extent of the cover-up that is going on behind the scenes to keep this out of the mainstream news. Four days ago, a search on youtube with “Guilbeault” as keyword would come up with several articles on this topic, yet today you find mainly old Guilbeault news. The “ministry of truth” appears to have been at work.
    Anyway, there is a story for you in there somewhere, along the lines of “Absolute Power corrupts absolutely, especially if the politician is a piker to start with”


  2. I am sorry to inform Canadians of this, but Canada is a piddling economy on the world stage, one day of increased emissions from China will overwhelm a decade of theorized emission reductions from Canada! No offense intended.

  3. At this point one wonders if CDN even understands the definition of 'hoax'. Here's the wikipedia gloss on the term: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoax
    The scandal discussed here is the epitome of a hoax. A hoaxer can have many different motivations for perpetrating the hoax, including the one CDN speculatively attributes to Guilbeault. (In light of the recent revelation that Guilbeault has personally benefited financially from his government's expenditures on the green transition, even attributing his deceptions to zealotry is questionable. Next CDN will be telling us that he really wasn't caught in a "conflict of interest" because the scheme was motivated by zealotry rather than greed.)

  4. How many times do we have to say this?Even if Canada disappeared,meaning not a single ton of CO2 emitted,it would make ZERO difference to either
    the climate or the weather.Never mind the crap about "doing our part" and reducing our emissions from say,1.5% to 1.4%,or any number.And even if you
    could "measure" the difference in less droughts,floods,heatwaves,etc(you can't!),you would not be able to do so for decades to come.All moot in any case.

  5. Within the truism of the state as a criminal enterprise, some players are more at home than others. Guilbeault is one such individual.

  6. The Liberals have forgotten the Chretien lesson - one pretends to act to prevent climate change, not actually do anything - it will damage the country!
    It was supposed to be a game of one-upmanship, to beat the Americans by virtue signalling at the CoPs and the UN and soothe a particular sliver of the base. Unfortunately they let in the zealots from Toronto (Butts, Guilbeault and Co) and now the naysayers have been proved right, industry is the government's most assiduous client, a generation of students has been frightened out of it's wits and Canada is in a deep hole which the Liberals will keep digging for another year.

  7. Umhhh…Canada is the 10th largest exporting economy on the planet. Admittedly down from 8th largest during the last decade….Primarily due to federal attempts to destroy western Canada’s energy industry while US energy industry took over as #1 LNG exporter, plus sign trade agreements that handed value added manufacturing jobs to the US, whose unemployment rate has been half that of Canada’s ever since and results in low productivity per capita…..

  8. Very well put. That is as exact a description of the situation in Canada as I have read anywhere.

  9. I do wonder what the endgame of these scammers/zealots is.
    Some will make a financial killing out of renewables.
    Others see it as a road to individual power.
    Some believe that the world will be a better place with a single global government.
    At the top of the tree, it would seem that there are a group of super rich individuals who see themselves as absolute rulers.
    They all seem to be driven by different motivations however, not enough of them seem to break ranks and expose the scam. It reminds me of the line from the Mark Knopfler song, “The man’s too big, The Man’s Too Strong“.

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