STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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Greenjobs are the Future for Alberta and Saskatchewan

Posted by mhudema on June 27, 2008

Dion’s plan targets oil-rich provinces

Tax to hit Alberta, Saskatchewan hard

From Friday’s Globe and Mail

TORONTO — Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion says 40 per cent of Canada’s carbon emissions come from Alberta and Saskatchewan and the two western provinces will have to do the most to change their habits under his new green plan. But he said it will be good for them – and he’s taking that message to the Calgary Stampede next weekend.

“If we do this plan, Alberta and Saskatchewan will be better off 10 years from now than if we don’t do this plan,” Mr. Dion said. “Their economies will be more diversified, their universities will be at the centre of something big happening around the world, and investments will grow.”

He rejected the notion that the two highest polluting provinces having to contend with a greater carbon tax burden could result in Western alienation.

Liberal leader Stéphane Dion announces his carbon tax plan  in Ottawa on June 19. Tom Hanson/The Canadian Press

Enlarge ImageLiberal leader Stéphane Dion announces his carbon tax plan in Ottawa on June 19. (Tom Hanson/The Canadian Press)

“To do the right thing will be beneficial for them,” Mr. Dion told The Globe and Mail’s editorial board. “I care about Alberta and Saskatchewan. I know many people who want to do the right thing. Many will know that it will create jobs there – green jobs.”

The Liberals’ controversial “green shift” plan would impose a carbon tax worth $15.4-billion a year that would be levied on the use of fossil fuels at the industrial and consumer level, although gasoline would be exempt. It would start at $10 per tonne of carbon fuel, rising to $40 per tonne in the fourth year.

This would be offset by a cut in income and business taxes and a boost in tax breaks for those hardest hit by the increased cost of necessities, such as home heating fuel, electricity, food and travel.

Mr. Dion insisted that the plan would not raise additional funds, but would shift the tax burden from individuals’ incomes to polluters, especially industrial ones.

But on a recent visit to Saskatchewan, where oil is helping to drive a booming economy, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has called the Liberal plan “insane,” suggested the carbon tax is similar to the National Energy Program of the 1980s and was designed to “screw” everybody. The Conservatives have labelled it a tax grab and launched attack advertisements.

Yesterday, Mr. Dion dismissed Mr. Harper for his “vulgar” language and called once again on the Prime Minister to openly debate the green plan.

One of the main criticisms of the Liberal carbon tax plan is that it falls short on specifics. It is unclear, for example, how Mr. Dion’s plan would operate in provinces such as British Columbia, where a carbon tax comes into effect Tuesday.

Mr. Dion’s spokesman, Mark Dunn, said yesterday that the Liberal Leader and B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell have already spoken about their respective carbon plans. Mr. Dion will be in the province later this summer to discuss it further.

The Opposition Leader will be in Alberta for the Calgary Stampede first to discuss how there will be more investments in that particular province, as well as in Saskatchewan, because more will be done to cut fossil fuels.

Mr. Dion stressed yesterday that now is not the time to be complacent. Some provinces may have to do more than others, but it will bolster Canada’s competitiveness.

If the plan is not put into action, “Canada will be a lagger. Canada will be boycotted. Canada will be a free rider of climate change, and the world will not be nice to free riders of climate change,” he said.

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