Climate Change: A Response to Brian Pallister

I applaud politicians who communicate with their constituents and explain their actions. Not all do. But Brian Pallister did and he should be recognized for it.

His “LETTER TO ALL MANITOBANS” explained his sudden and puzzling abandonment of his carbon tax plan. Unfortunately, for me at least, it was a very unsatisfying explanation, and I feel the need to critique a few of his statements. Here is the letter (in BLUE) and my comments (in MAROON. Maroon is an underrated colour.)

*****

A LETTER TO ALL MANITOBANS FROM PREMIER BRIAN PALLISTER

I am writing to you on a matter of great importance to all Manitobans.
This is complete bullshit! There is NO WAY this is …. no just kidding, this part is fine. Read on …

On Oct. 3, I announced that your government would not proceed with a Manitoba carbon tax.

I will explain why.

The danger posed by climate change is real and it is serious. We see the evidence all around us, in warmer temperatures, both in the air and in the oceans. In the form of dangerous storms, which happen more frequently. In forest fires of unprecedented intensity, and in severe flooding that happens far more often.

Climate change threatens our safety and our economy. It threatens our future, especially the future of generations that will follow us.

We are leading the way with a Made-in-Manitoba Climate and Green Plan that is widely acknowledged as the best in Canada.
I am not saying this is untrue, but if it is “widely acknowledged as the best in Canada” there must be numerous independent sources that you can cite to back this up. Please provide! Because I have not seen any. What I have seen is a collaborative report that says that NB and NS are the only 2 provinces that are on track to meet emission targets, and that Manitoba does not even have formal emissions targets. 

Our plan focuses on four pillars of cleaner water, conservation of natural areas, effective steps to address climate change, and strengthening our economy.

It continues our investments in renewable energy, while encouraging Manitobans to reduce their energy consumption. It will assist local communities in their efforts to protect our watersheds.

It will clean up contaminated sites, increase recycling, and build new schools to a higher standard of energy efficiency and environmental design.

It will establish a $100 million Conservation Trust to preserve and protect our grasslands, woodlands, wetlands, waterways and wildlife habitat.
So these are all good things, but many of them do not address greenhouse gas emissions, which is what we’re talking about here. You can’t say ‘sure I didn’t eat my peas but I had whole wheat toast and didn’t put butter on my potato.’ That doesn’t change the fact that you DIDN’T EAT YOUR FUCKING VEGETABLES. Yes I know potato is a vegetable. Shut up.

It’s a plan that will be implemented without any significant assistance from the federal government.

Last year, we received legal advice that the federal government has the constitutional power to impose a carbon tax, but only on provinces that do not implement plans of their own.

Our Climate and Green Plan, which is better for our economy and better for our environment, was designed by Manitobans to protect Manitobans and to keep Ottawa’s hands out of our pockets.
Our Climate and Green Plan included a carbon tax, and now that is gone. This assumption that Ottawa does not have the legal basis to impose an additional tax on us was nebulous before. It is just plain silly now.

Our Made-in-Manitoba plan proposed a flat and low tax, like the prairie horizon.
The horizon being low is a matter of perspective. Not all of us are 6’6″ Mr. Pallister.

That flat rate would have provided stability to consumers, business, industry and agriculture.

It would have saved Manitoba families and businesses more than $260 million over five years, compared to the Ottawa carbon tax.

Most importantly, all monies collected under our plan would have been returned to Manitobans, in the form of tax reductions.
All monies collected by the federal government are being returned to Manitobans too, only now Pallister doesn’t get to control how.

There are no such guarantees with the Ottawa plan.
The Prime Minister has said numerous times that it would. It is a core component of their plan. Of course Trudeau has lied before, but I’m inclined to believe him on this one because it’s the only way the carbon tax would be politically feasible.

Immediately after unveiling our Climate and Green Plan, and on numerous occasions thereafter, we sought the federal government’s assurance that they would not impose their escalating carbon tax over and above the Manitoba tax.

Almost a year after our Manitoba Climate and Green Plan was released, however, Ottawa’s high tax threat remains, and that is unacceptable.

Ottawa has acknowledged our plan is the best in Canada, but they have also stated that they will impose their higher — and rising — carbon tax after one year.
Two years, actually, except we’re starting late.

It could mean twice the tax, for poorer results. Double for nothing. That would threaten jobs and economic growth throughout our province. At a time when Manitoba is making progress in fixing our finances and rebuilding our economy, the last thing struggling families, seniors and small businesses need is higher taxes.
Sooooo many things. OK:
1) “twice the tax, for poorer results” is just plain false. The Province’s own report says so. The model shows slightly lower emissions reductions over 5 years with the Federal plan starting at $10/tonne, but once ramped up to $50/tonne (i.e. “twice the tax”) emissions reductions would be greater. The thing that Pallister is misrepresenting is that “incremental emission reductions fall off” beyond $30/tonne. In other words there are diminishing returns to having a larger tax according to the report, which is certainly something Pallister could have argued had he stuck with his plan.

2) “threaten jobs and economic growth throughout our province” is hyperbole. The differences in projected GDP are tiny (see chart below) and based on numerous assumptions. I’ve seen enough government reports and budgets to know that projections are not always spot-on. Moreover, we do not know how the Federal government plans to reinvest it’s carbon tax revenue back into the provinces and what impact that is going to have, but one would assume it’s positive (as getting money usually is).
3) Please stop with the scare propaganda about struggling families, seniors and small businesses. That’s straight out of the NDP playbook. And small businesses don’t get taxed enough anyhow.

We will always defend the interests of Manitobans. Today, tomorrow, and for as long as we are privileged to serve this province and its people.

Manitoba’s Climate and Green Plan deserves Ottawa’s respect. We are already Canada’s cleanest, greenest province. We are investing billions in renewable energy, without a single dollar from Ottawa, yet we are given no credit for it.
“We are investing billions in renewable energy” — Taking credit for the NDP’s ill-advised Manitoba Hydro megaprojects, while also hammering them for the growing debt that it’s created. Well done, Mr. Pallister.

In fact, Manitoba Hydro’s debt will rise to $25 billion — $19,800 per Manitoban — thanks to the NDP’s massive overbuild. You have already made a significant investment in green. Rather than respect this investment, Ottawa threatens to impose an escalating carbon tax which will take billions of dollars off the kitchen tables of Manitoba families.
Maybe your kitchen table has stacks of money on it, but mine has a bowl of grapes and a bunch of last week’s flyers. Also, how did $260 million turn into billions of dollars all of a sudden?

Our course of action is clear. The federal government says Manitobans aren’t doing enough to protect the environment. They are wrong. They say a carbon tax is the only solution to fighting climate change. We disagree. They claim they have the absolute right to impose a carbon tax on Manitobans. (As does your legal team.)

We say “no.” (Your lawyers say “yes”)

We say “yes” to a cleaner, greener future for Manitoba. We say “yes” to a Made-in-Manitoba Climate and Green Plan, without a carbon tax.
I say “fuck it. There is no way the world is going to avoid catastrophic climate change anyhow. We are all going to die. Eat Arby’s”

The Honourable Brian Pallister
Premier of Manitoba

*****

 

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