The carbon tax is an assault on the middle, working, and lower classes

Written By Neil McKenzie-Sutter, Posted on June 3, 2020

For the record, I care deeply about the environment and believe we need to work to protect the planet and all that good stuff.

That said, on the road to solving our environmental woes we will encounter many bad ideas and bad policies that should be ignored. The Carbon Tax and the Federal EV grant funding program are two of those ideas needing to be smacked down because not only do they not improve the environment, they’re an attack on the middle, working and poor classes. 

Unless you’re in Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver, transit sucks in Canada. Speaking for myself, I’m in the suburban/rural GTA and I need to be in downtown Toronto for 6:30am, the first bus from my area only arriving there at 6:32.  That is unworkable, and the situation only gets worse further from major cities. 

I also need a vehicle because my work location isn’t fixed, so I need dependable transportation when there’s a location change, so that’s another reason I can’t use public transit. Not to sound like a complainer, I just think there’s a ton of Canadian commuters in a similar situation.

I’m considering going electric for my next car, but a problem with that is every EV/Hybrid on the market is out of my price range, with essentially only luxury cars being available. 

To my knowledge, only the Chevy Bolt, Kia Soul and Hyundai Kona and Ioniq EVs are traditionally what you’d call compact sized cars, but still not cheap at $40,000 on the low end, which in my mind is massively overpriced.

I can’t afford any of these cars, and I’m not even badly off financially. But could a rich/well off person in a city take advantage of the federal government’s grant program? You bet. 

In this same vein of thinking, I also wouldn’t even consider using the EV/Hybrid grant program because I want my next vehicle to be a work van or truck. The fact is electric trucks and vans just aren’t on the market yet, so let’s not pretend every Canadian could/or would even want to take advantage of the EV/Hybrid grant program.

There are some hybrid minivans, these are stupidly overpriced, the Pacifica hybrid starting at approx.~ $50,000.00, but are we really going to pretend the average family has that kind of money to throw at a people-carrier?

Of course, so far I’ve only talked about cars but the negative effects of the Carbon Tax are much more far reaching. We derive most of our energy from fossil fuels and obviously the energy we consume isn’t just from cars so that means that in most instances, the costs of running any kind of business will go up. Of course this means more small businesses will be pinched with the extra costs, whereas large multinational corporations will much more easily be able to adapt.

In Canada, too, specifically the Carbon Tax is a terrible idea heating in the winter is an absolute life necessity, and many peoples’ heating systems depend on natural gas. Yes, that means your heating costs will increase because you have to ‘pay the price for pollution.’

It is also well known that despite the federal government giving out Carbon Tax rebates it is more than offset but the increase in prices on store shelves. Of course the rich can afford an extra $0.25-0.50 on bread and other goods at the store, but everyone economically beneath them may not be as comfortable paying extra for all their essentials. 

In this context I can only see the Carbon Tax as class warfare, because with it only rich/city dwellers are able to reap benefits and feel good about their role ‘saving’ the environment, meanwhile sneering at/lecturing rural/working class people about how they’re dirty polluters, at the same time forcing them to carry the higher tax burden for these ‘green’ programs.

The carbon tax must be recognized for what it is: an ugly punitive tax, and this should be disturbing for all Canadians if this is something we can expect of future tax programs because throughout history punitive taxes have proven totally ineffective at achieving their stated goals.

The most infamous example in history of this failure would have to the series of unfair taxes and tariffs that Britain imposed on their American colonies in the 1760s – 70s, eventually leading to the American Revolution and the 1776 Declaration of Independence. Obviously in this situation Britain’s systems of taxes and tariffs failed because their end result was the separation of America from the British Empire, and the loss of all tax revenue of the 13 original colonies. 

The British didn’t learn their lesson, however, and made a similar mistake related to the controversial Salt Tax. The Salt Tax became a political lightning rod in the Indian independence movement, and through non-violent means India gained independence from the British Empire in 1947.

Even if the Carbon Tax is small enough that it slipped through unnoticed by many today, the principle behind it is the same as all punitive taxes. These kinds of taxes have to be spoken against and challenged because they represent truly awful tax policy and understanding of how economies work and they will fail, but that doesn’t mean Ottawa won’t be back with even more ridiculous taxes in the future if we don’t smack this one down.

Neil McKenzie-Sutter

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