First Nations will feel carbon tax plan 

Strahl calls Liberals’ Green Shift ‘bad public policy’

A local MP is decrying the federal Liberal Party’s carbon tax plan that he calls a “nightmare” waiting to happen.

Chuck Strahl, the Conservative member for Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon, a riding that includes Pemberton, told reporters on a June 20 conference call that the Liberal Party’s proposed “Green Shift” is “bad public policy” that could see heavy impacts on rural and First Nations communities.

The federal Liberals announced their “Green Shift” last week, a multi-fold plan that aims to fight climate change as well as reduce poverty, according to a handbook released with the plan. It includes a federal tax on fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas that will start at $10 per tonne of carbon dioxide, a rate that would peak at $40 per tonne in four years.

The “Green Shift” would also place a tax of 7 cents per litre on diesel in the fourth year of its existence, as well as an extra 12 cents per litre on heavy fuel oil. There would be no additional tax on diesel in the first year of its implementation. The proposed tax would not be added to the price of gasoline.

The Liberals say their plan will be “revenue neutral,” generating about $15.5 billion in additional revenue by the fourth year, but it would be paired with $15.5 billion in tax cuts.

The plan will not be implemented unless the Liberals form a government, but it nevertheless has Strahl, also the minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, balking at the proposed taxes.

“The only shift you’ll get is from your wallet into the oil companies’ hands,” he said.

It is not yet clear whether the taxes would be in addition to British Columbia’s carbon tax, which takes effect July 1. However Joyce Murray, a Liberal MP, said British Columbians will not be penalized for being “out ahead on this issue,” though she did not rule out that the taxes could come on top of existing ones.

“How this will be structured, it will be a matter of negotiation,” she said. “We will not handicap British Columbians for being out in front.”

Strahl’s biggest problem with the “Green Shift” is the impact it could have on First Nations communities.

“Any remote community in Canada uses heating oil for heat, and diesel generation to produce electricity, the two things that they’re going to tax the most,” he said.

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