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It’s always worth approaching government interventions and actions with a healthy degree of skepticism. There is a reason why the most feared expression among many Canadians is “I’m from the government and I’m here to help” – because we’ve seen the results too often.
When, for example, the government can’t find a better way to clean up the environment than to give a $12 million cheque to Loblaws to buy new refrigerators, Canadians just shake their heads. Or their fists. Or maybe their empty wallets.
I’m guessing “the middle class and those struggling to get there” are unlikely to carry the cheque-bearing politician out on their shoulders, unless they’re on the way to stuff her/him into said refrigerator until they’ve smartened up.
But what’s a few million of your tax dollars spent to support one of the biggest food retailers in the country? $12 million is not even a rounding error in an omnibus budget implementation bill! (Not that budget bills are really about the numbers nowadays. They are better used to bring in changes to immigration laws or Deferred Prosecution Agreements for old friends. But I digress …)
What is more galling is the obvious ineffectiveness of the Liberal government’s keynote environmental policy, the carbon tax. Like all taxes, this one starts out relatively small, with a promise (or threat) to grow bigger over time.
In this case, the government promises to tax you, deduct 20% for a handling charge, then give back what’s left over in a rebate. Feel better? Companies like Loblaws will get a little more, but, hey, they’re middle class too. The benefits to the environment are negligible, while the opportunities for political shenanigans and pork-barreling are legion. See ‘Ontario under the Liberal government’ for a boondoggle near you.
Currently the price of gas is at record highs in British Columbia, which you might suppose (to the tax-loving duo of Trudeau and BC Premier John Horgan) is right where they like it? Higher taxes mean less consumption, right?
That’s the whole idea behind the carbon tax, so they’re right on track. But now that their gas taxes are getting to the point where people are really suffering, the B.C. provincial government is considering a rebate for those who find the prices prohibitive. This should be made into a sitcom!
The government(s) strategy seems to be this: Pile on the taxes until people are suffering. Make sure the increased costs work their way through the economy until it increases the price of everything including food. Then take middle-class tax dollars and subsidize grocery chains and other tangential corporations to buy new equipment (because we all know the ‘consumer’ benefits when billionaires get fridge subsidies).
The environment is no cleaner but everyone gets hosed. While the government could just reduce taxes, they will instead tax us like hell, take their government slice (which we’ll never see again) then create another rebate plan (one federal, one provincial – can the municipalities be far behind?). The rebates will be available to everyone but you.
Thanks for the contribution! Feel free to use your own descriptive expression now.
Chuck Strahl was a Conservative MP from 1993 to 2011.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019