Opinion piece

Opinion: O’Toole’s carbon taxes would come with big costs for families

Erin O’Toole’s proposed carbon taxes would cost you more to heat your home, put food on the table and drive to work.

The leader of the Conservative Party of Canada broke his promise and announced that if elected prime minister, he’s going to impose his own carbon tax at $50 per tonne on gasoline, diesel and natural gas. He’s also planning a second carbon tax.

This comes as a surprise and betrayal to a lot of people.

When running for party leader, O’Toole signed the Canadian Taxpayers Federation pledge promising to scrap the carbon tax.

It read: “I will: immediately repeal the Trudeau carbon tax; and, reject any future national carbon tax or cap-and-trade scheme.”

O’Toole’s carbon tax on fuel and home heating would obviously break that promise.

And O’Toole is planning on imposing two carbon taxes.

Yes, two.

O’Toole is following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s plan to create a second carbon tax. It’s tucked into the regulations for fuel standards. When companies can’t meet Trudeau’s targets, they pay the tax and pass the cost on to consumers.

O’Toole is planning to modify Trudeau’s second carbon tax and base it on British Columbia’s version of the scheme.

In B.C., the second carbon tax adds about 14 cents per litre of gasoline and 15.5 cents per litre of diesel.

B.C.’s gas prices are coming to a town near you.

Let’s do the math and figure out what O’Toole’s two carbon taxes would cost.

O’Toole’s combined carbon taxes will cost about 25 cents per litre of gasoline, 29 cents per litre of diesel and about 10 cents per cubic metre of natural gas.

The average home in Canada uses about 2,442 cubic metres of natural gas per year, so O’Toole’s carbon tax will add $239 to the bill.

What do O’Toole’s taxes mean for family vehicles? Buckle up.

These carbon taxes will cost about $19 extra to fill a minivan and more than $30 extra to fill a pickup truck. Tradespeople drive big diesel pickup trucks and those can get hit with a carbon tax of more than $50 per fill up.

Carbon taxes will cost long haul truckers an extra $100 per tank at every fill up.

Filling up a minivan once a week and a pickup truck twice a month will cost a family more than $1,700 per year.

That’s about the cost of two months worth of groceries for a family of four. And these costs are assuming O’Toole doesn’t hike his carbon tax beyond $50 per tonne. He promises he won’t, but he’s already planning to break his promise not to impose a carbon tax.

Speaking of groceries, O’Toole’s carbon taxes will hit farmers who use natural gas to dry grain, and truckers who use diesel to haul food. That raises costs.

It gets worse.

O’Toole is also considering carbon border tariffs on items imported from countries that don’t have carbon taxes.

Canada imports fruits and vegetables in the winter. Tomatoes, avocados and peppers come from places such as Mexico, Chile and Florida. O’Toole would make taco Tuesday meals more expensive.

Tequila from Mexico could cost more too. That’s too bad because we’re going to need it.

What do we get in exchange for paying more to heat our homes, drive to work and feed our families?

O’Toole plans to hand out points for stuff listed in a yet-to-be-announced green catalogue of government approved swag. Maybe Canadians can cart our expensive groceries home on an electric bike. In Calgary. In January.

Trudeau’s carbon taxes are bad policies, but at least some people are getting some cash back for now and they can spend it as they choose.

One thing is certain: O’Toole’s surprise carbon taxes are going to cost us a lot of money.

Franco Terrazzano is the federal director and Kris Sims is the B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

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