Disingenuous ? An error of omission? Or deliberately misleading


Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

June 26th, 2019


“In the end, Trudeau’s Carbon Tax takes money out of your pockets and puts it into the government’s coffers.” (Andrew Scheer – ‘A Real Plan’ – June 19, 2019)

It is disappointing to see a major political leader be so disingenuous. An error of omission? No it is a deliberate deception because he must know that the money from the federal carbon tax mostly ends up in people’s pockets, not the government coffers. The federal carbon tax is as revenue neutral as it gets.

Wicked smile

Andrew Scheer; Leader of the Opposition.

And Andrew Scheer’s new “A Real Plan” is best described as taking Canada back to business as it used to be under former PM Stephen Harper. Indeed there are some decent ideas in the document. Still it is pretty much yesterday, highly partisan and was clearly intended for use during the upcoming federal election.

Climate change is only one part of the plan and there is speculation that this vague plan might even lead to an increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, rather than reductions. So it is comforting to see that Scheer has at least endorsed the current federal 30% emissions reduction target, which was originally penned by his former leader, Stephen Harper.

Scheer, in his preamble to his plan notes the contributions of previous Conservative governments to the environment. Though it is confusing to see Mr. Harper given credit for net declines of greenhouse gas emissions between 2007 and 2015. After all Ontario’s Doug Ford, who wasn’t even in office then, is claiming the rest of Canada has gone up by 3% since 2005 while Ontario fell by an impressive 22%. And that was because of McGuinty and Wynne, not Harper.

Scheer, along with those provincial Conservative premiers who now populate most provinces in the country, have shunned market based solutions (carbon taxation) and the role of individuals in fighting climate change. Instead they are looking to industry to do the heavy lifting by inventing and implementing some kind of green technology – which will magically reduce emissions.

The Conservatives have also dusted off an old Chretien Liberal homeowner energy saving program, cancelled by Harper. And there are subsidies and tax holidays and reductions promised, but no roadmap as to how all of these pieces will come together to meet Canada’s emissions target.

Hard look

Andrew Scheer

Scheer has also suggested Canada might partly meet its emissions target by exporting natural gas to developing nations which are currently burning coal, although it is not clear that will be allowed under the Paris Agreement. And didn’t Mr. Harper scoff every time the Chretien Liberals raised the idea of international emissions credits in connection with the Kyoto Protocol?

Will tinkering around the edges be enough? Shouldn’t we be considering what gets produced in addition to how things are produced? For example, what about the necessary shift from petroleum to electric vehicles (EV)? With no carbon tax and no EV rebate how does Scheer motivate people to make the transition to more environmentally friendly transport? That is huge hole in his plan.

Carbon is intrinsic to fossil fuels. The only way to avoid GHG emissions from it is to avoid using the fossil fuels. Ultimately the petroleum industry will need to wind up operations and just plain shut down for the good of the planet. Finance Minister Morneau said as much, speaking frankly to industry captains at the Economic Club in Calgary just days after the Trudeau government had approved completion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Now that takes guts. But not Andrew Scheer. He was elected from Saskatchewan and winding down the energy sector is not in his cards or part of his philosophy. But maybe he doesn’t get it or doesn’t want to get it. Maybe Kim Campbell had a point in her remarks about how some people still see the climate issue.

Hands apart

Andrew Scheer

Only days earlier, just ahead of the Trans Mountain announcement in fact, Parliament passed a motion declaring that Canada was facing a national climate emergency. This was inspired by the recent report that Canada is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world. And to bring the point home over 40 of Canada’s top scientists had projected Canadians will end up with 10 times as many deadly heat waves and twice as many extreme rainstorms.

Of course that was the day of the Raptors big party in Toronto, so Elizabeth May was the only party leader in the House. But still, the motion passed by a three to one majority, though Mr. Bernier’s People’s Party and the Conservatives voted against it. And that probably says all we need to know about Mr. Scheer and his ‘A Real Plan’.

But don’t take my word, just ask former PM Kim Campbell.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

A Real Plan –     A Perspective –    Increase Emission –  

More Real Plan –    Morneau –      Climate Change Emergency

 Doug Ford’s Claim –   Kim Campbell

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14 comments to Disingenuous ? An error of omission? Or deliberately misleading.

  • david barker

    Wooster, Agreed Canada’s (Liberal) plan may be ineffectual because Canada is such a small “player” when compared to India, China, USA and Russia.and their carbon emissions, but at least it is something and is probably all we can do. McGuinty/Wynn (Liberals) least shut down the coal fired power plants, even if they did otherwise put Ontario in a financial hole. Are you advocating that because we are a small player and the big players are doing nothing , then we should do nothing ?

    • Phillip Wooster

      Recognizing that carbon emissions are a GLOBAL problem, very simply a GLOBAL solution is needed. Consequently , the first thing that has to be recognized is that the Paris Accord does NOT pursue a GLOBAL solution. China, India, Russia, and the USA which account for the huge majority of carbon emissions are doing nothing with carbon pricing . The result is that Canada, by increasing its costs, makes us less competitive in international trade and results in economic stagnation with our major trading partners who are not playing by the same rules. Canada’s efforts are much like p*ssing into the wind–while you may feel initial relief (from a virtue-signalling standpoint), you’ve just created another problem.

      Let’s examine the Liberals so-called climate plan. The PBO has clearly stated that the Trudeau Carbon Tax will have to increase 5-fold (to 23 cents per litre) to achieve the Paris targets. But McKenna has already stated that the Liberals will not increase the Trudeau Carbon Tax beyond 11 cents per litre if reelected. Is she being DISINGENOUS or DELIBERATELY MISLEADING (I prefer LYING)? The current Trudeau Carbon Tax will not change Canadians’ energy use; consequently, it fails and becomes just a revenue tax. This is even more apparent when you realize that HST added to the Trudeau Carbon Tax will suck another $750 million out of the Canadian economy. The Liberals have already MISLEAD us when they claimed that the thesis of those two Nobel prize winning economists showed that carbon pricing was the most efficient way to reduce carbon emissions–they failed to mention that the thesis was based on GLOBAL pricing and that pricing did not necessarily mean carbon taxes. ERRORS OF OMISSION???

      Lastly, I noted yesterday that the Liberals are getting very nervous over the Conservatives plan. They announced a tax on gas-fired electricity generators above a specific threshhold. This sounds like what Scheer proposed in placing financial responsibility on major emitters; of course, Scheer proposed to provide incentives to rebate the these financial costs to the emitters if they reduced the emissions. But here’s the Liberals either being MISLEADING or DISINGENUOUS–the threshhold is higher than the Conservatives proposal.

      Finally, you have to ask. Which party is really being DISINGENUOUS? DELIBERATELY MISLEADING? OMITTING KEY DETAILS?

  • Joe Gaetan

    Let’s face it, both plans are bogus. Meanwhile here in Ontario we had a government that tried to ram the poorly thought out, poorly planned, unsustainable “places to growth plan” that was rammed down our throats. Sustainable urban growth is what is needed and if we do that right we will simultaneously lower our carbon footprint.

    • Hans Jacobs

      “sustainable growth” is an oxymoron. Long term growth can not be sustained and we are witnessing that as earth’s population approaches 8 billion.

      • Joe Gaetan

        There is plenty we can do at the urban level, which is where the problem begins and ends. The current Places to Grow act should be trashed and reinstated with the appropriate infrastructure put in place BEFORE municipalities are expected to meet unattainable targets. In terms of transportation we need to look at Lake Ontario as part of the sustainable solution to road congestion in the GTA and GH. Well thought out intensification does result in a lower carbon footprint while urban sprawl does not.

  • Gfraser

    Ideas for all Parties:

    – no coal generators
    – give tax credit of 15K on all EV cars under 60K so most of the middle class will buy them….look at Norway and stop trying to create a new wheel
    – stop all single disposable plastics……………like right now……quit talking
    – plant lots of trees
    – Have a strict tree bylaw and enforce it
    – mandatory scrubbers on all large industries
    – tax big business for polluting and make it hurt………yes they may leave but then stop buying their products and re-invest in re-education for the work force. If big industry leaves after having bailouts from the tax payers (ie., govt) then confiscate their assets (land, building, etc). Also quit negotiating such poor contracts with them.
    – quit buying crab oil form the Saudi who ship it here and have almost no emission controls
    – Alberta oil to be refined in Alberta or piped back east to the Irving Refinery and tell Quebec this is a Federal/National decision. If they don’t like it, designate them a “Have-Province” instead of a Have-not.
    – Don’t build a pipe to the West coast to give oil to China to refine
    – etc

  • Hans Jacobs

    A carbon tax is better than nothing but there must surely be more effective methods to stop the climate changes that are causing the violent changes in weather patterns of the last few decades. I expect our political leaders to continue to work **together**, as in “cooperatively”, on this issue and that “carbon tax” will be only the start of addressing it.
    For “economists”, a carbon tax might make sense if demand for gasoline were more “elastic”; i.e., if consumers could easily and quickly substitute another source of energy for it. Unfortunately, that’s simply not the case and gasoline’s short run demand curve is nearly vertical: the price could double (I hope not…) and most of us would still need to buy it in the short run. Eventually our next car buying decision might favour a hybrid, or battery-on-wheels, but that could be much too late for the desired effect, and it is likely to create a new environmental problem: millions of depleted car batteries.
    Psychologists will probably agree that the time interval between the tax payment and the rebate receipt will be a major factor in the success of a carbon tax/rebate system; i.e., longer interval = less effective.
    Psychologists would probably suggest also that to elicit a desired behaviour it should be rewarded in a significant way. We could start by reducing car licence renewal costs for light vehicles, while increasing them for the monster vehicles, and it could even be “revenue neutral”.

  • Vivienne Muller

    I concur with Alide, who has phrased it so well, “why are voters taken in by all this?””, lies rule!

  • Stephen White

    Many pundits have reservations about the value of a carbon tax. In order to be impactful the level of pricing would have to be significantly higher than what has been introduced. The fact that five Premiers and their governments oppose it doesn’t provide much basis of support. In this morning’s National Post it alludes to the fact that even the Environment Minister is seeking a way of backing off this initiative.

    That being said, what I would have expected to see in a Conservative environment plan was a comprehensive set of initiatives to address global warming and environmental degradation while simultaneously offering a meaningful alternative to the Liberal platform. That could/should have included measures such as: 1) enhanced incentives on the purchase electric vehicles, and much higher than the $5K recently proposed; 2) elimination of diesel fuel, and incentives/requirement to convert to LNG; 3) tax breaks for citizens using public transit; 4) ambitious reforestation programs; 5) subsidizations for carbon capture facilities; 6) detailed programs on environmental clean-up.

    Scheer missed a golden opportunity. If carbon pricing isn’t the right approach, and many aren’t convinced it is, then it is incumbent on those opposing it to pitch a detailed, viable alternative.

  • Phillip Wooster

    I love the way the federal Liberals and their pro-carbon tax sycophants point to the two Nobel-prize winning economists who proposed that a price on carbon was the most efficient way to reduce carbon emissions. However, that is all they point to and there lies the deceit! What the economists had proposed was a price on carbon on a GLOBAL basis with penalties for countries that didn’t comply. Makes sense right–after all, carbon emissions are a global problem. But in an article by Terence Corcoran in the Financial Post, Dr. Nordhaus, one of those economists, called Canada’s plan “dysfunctional and ineffectual”. Why? Because in a world where China, India, Russia, and the USA have no carbon price, Canada’s efforts amount to little more than virtue-signalling. Of course, most intelligent Canadians have figured this out!

  • I am glad to say I am very heartened by the two comments above. They restore my confidence that, if we can act quickly enough, we will find ourselves collectively able to stop the destruction and begin to repair what we can.

  • Fred Pritchard

    Ray even CON commentator Andrew Coyne called Scheers plan ridiculous on national TV. No targets, no goals, no implementation. The CON plan is basically Doug Ford throwing empty buck a beer cans into the lake to watch them float and Andrew Scheer with a pool skimmer fishing them out. Laughable at best.

  • Alide Camilleri

    Scheer banks on the chubby, smiling face, which seems to fool so many people even though few really know who he is. When I mentioned to some friends out west that he has a wife and five kids hidden from view, they were astounded. He is, at heart, a man ruled by the Old Testament and obviously doesn’t get it that the world has moved on from that time, when men saw the world as they understood it then. One wonders what sort of world he imagines his children will inherit? Things are different now than they were in Old Testament times. We have messed up our planet, big time. Telling lies, which is the case with the carbon tax money, will not save us. The permafrost is melting, and as it does, more carbon and methane are released into the atmosphere. Why don’t we listen to our scientists? What are men such as Scheer, Ford, Kenny ruled by? Greed? Stupidity? An absolute faith in patriarchy? And why are voters taken in by all this? I am just so sad that intellect and knowledge no longer count.

  • david barker

    And now the Federal Govt has promised to divert a significant portion of the carbon tax collected in Ontario directly to Ontario schools to assist in upgrading HVAC and the making of other energy efficiencies.

    Andrew Sneer (purposefully mis-spelt) still has not provided any clear and concise policies on climate change or other major files. Generally his position is “I’m against anything the Liberal are for; whatever that might be”.

    Trudeau has made many mistakes, for sure, but I do think he is genuine in his desire to do “the right thing”. Sneer is purely out for votes. He cannot be trusted! This coming from someone who since arriving here in 1984 voted Tory until the last election.