Stephen Harper’s tax on everything

A speech from the Prime Minister

Astute reader PJ Partington reminds me of this speech the Prime Minister delivered on May 29, 2008 in London, England. The relevant bits have been added to this compilation, but the speech is remarkable enough that it deserves its own recognition.

For the first time ever, we are establishing a regulatory framework that will impose mandatory emissions reduction targets across the spectrum of Canadian industry.  Industries will be expected to produce 18 per cent less greenhouse gasses per unit of production in 2010 compared to 2006, and those targets will get tougher by two per cent each year, each and every year.  This will lead – and this is important – to absolute reductions in emissions, not just reduce carbon intensity.  It will lead to an absolute 20 per cent reduction, as I’ve said, by 2020.  Canadian industries that do not meet their emission reduction targets will be required to do one of three things.  They will have access to a domestic carbon trading system which will include offset credits for non-industrial practices that reduce emissions.  We eventually hope to participate in a North American trading regime, depending on what action the United States takes, and I’ll talk about that in a second.  We likewise hope to participate someday in a more mature and robust emissions trading regime internationally.  As well, industries will have access to credits through the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism…

I should mention that while our plan will effectively establish a price on carbon of $65 a tonne, growing to that rate over the next decade, our Government has opted not to apply carbon taxes.

Carbon taxes will establish certainty about price, but not about outcomes.  The central purpose of our plan is to create certainty about emissions reductions, not to raise revenue for the government.  Our plan will compel industry not just to pay for their carbon emissions but to actually reduce them.  Industry has told us they want and they need certainty.  Our framework provides that.  Clear targets, realistic timelines, fair across the board application.  Now industry knows what they need to do and when they need to do it.

Apparently, at this point, Mr. Harper saw a difference between cap-and-trade and a carbon tax. Of course, this was three years before Mr. Harper’s government decided that any price on carbon amounted to a carbon tax. By his government’s current logic, this was Stephen Harper proposing a carbon tax, even as he dismissed the option.

For the sake of comparison, Stephane Dion proposed a price on carbon that reached $40 per tonne within four years with a “gradual rise” thereafter. Mr. Harper apparently saw a price of $65 per tonne established over 10 years.

If you’d like to see Mr. Harper say it, here is a short clip from this speech that someone has now uploaded to YouTube.

And here again is everything you need to know about the Conservatives’ carbon tax farce.