As many Ontarians are affected by increasing energy prices, Senator Tobias C. Enverga Jr. wanted to find out why the government is forcing provinces to add an additional tax that will increase the cost for households and businesses alike.  The Senator also asked about how such a tax will help the environment when the province can buy emission credits from other jurisdictions like Quebec and California.  This is what the Senator asked the Government Representative in the Senate:


Carbon Tax—Energy Costs

Hon. Tobias C. Enverga, Jr.: Honourable senators, my question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate concerns the Liberal carbon tax.

As of January 1, the already high energy costs in Ontario have further increased under the provincial Liberal government’s cap- and-trade tax. One greenhouse grower in Livingston, Ontario, recently told the CBC that his energy bill for December was about $19,000. In January, it had more than doubled to over $41,000.

As we know, the Prime Minister is forcing all provinces to put a price on carbon by next year. This will hit families with an increase in the cost of gas, groceries and just about everything else. It will also hurt Canadian businesses.

Could the government leader please tell us: Why is this government intent on increasing energy costs for average Canadians and for job-creating businesses, which are already stretched to the max?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): The government is committed to a comprehensive and collaborative approach with the provinces in regard to climate change. That process has unfolded over the last number of months. The agreements have been reached and steps are being taken to move forward.

I’m sure that all Canadians are concerned about climate change and greenhouse gases, as well as the appropriate response for governments in Canada to coordinate and collaborate. That’s what’s under way.

Senator Enverga: I have a supplementary question. Last year, we also learned that Environmental Commissioner of Ontario Dianne Saxe stated in a report that the new cap-and-trade system will not limit Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions as intended. This is in part due to the impending trade system of carbon pollution credits between Ontario, Quebec and California.

Can the Leader of the Government tell us why the federal government would allow for such a trade that clearly favours large corporations, while smaller job-creating businesses and households have to pay the carbon tax?

Senator Harder: We live in a federation, and in a federation, particularly in an area like this, the federal government is working with its provincial counterparts and providing a level of provincial discretion as to how to meet the obligations. The provinces have chosen different methods of moving forward, and that is a respectful engagement with provinces and an appropriate response to an urgent need on climate change, while acknowledging that we live in a federation.