Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Canada’s Carbon Tax Drama

A tax that will take an extra $1,250 from the pockets of struggling Canadian families is applauded by corporations.


Earlier this week, Canada’s federal government announced a nation-wide carbon tax. We were told that it’s “Time to put a price on pollution.”

I’ve previously discussed why employing the term ‘pollution’ in the climate context in a grotesque and Orwellian misuse of language (see here and here). If carbon dioxide is pollution, then every single human being is a non-stop polluter. Every infant and every school kid exhales CO2 every minute of every day.

The timing of this grand announcement was eye-poppingly rude.  At the same time that environment ministers from the provinces were gathered at a Montreal meeting to discuss a possible collaborative climate plan, the rug was pulled from under them. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rose in the House of Commons in Ottawa and, in essence, declared that it didn’t matter what those authorities decided amongst themselves.

Like it or not, with buy-in from the provinces or not, a carbon tax will be imposed across this nation in 2018. Saskatchewan’s environment minister, Scott Moe, estimates that Canadian families will pay an extra $1,250 in taxes per year as a result.

In an interesting twist, a telecommunications company is experiencing blowback from its customers after it tweeted its support for this new tax. As I’ve written in the past, corporations have no business pretending to be holier-than-thou. It’s offensive for profit-driven entities to presume that they have the right to preach at – or scold – me about anything. They’re providers of goods and services – not spiritual leaders.

But big companies have sustainability officers on staff these days, who actually imagine that customers care acutely about their green credentials. Uh, no. When I’m choosing a mobile phone company, my focus is on the size of the bill I have to pay each month. Over and over again, consumers have demonstrated that environmentally friendly is a nice-to-have, but the vast majority of us won’t pay extra for it.

This week, Telus discovered there’s a downside to ostentatious greenery. On Tuesday (in a tweet that has since been deleted), the company declared:

As a founding member of @smartprosperity, we support @JustinTrudeau and [federal enviro minister] @cathmckenna in putting a #PriceOnCarbon…

In response, a wave of customers promptly announced that they’d be taking their personal – and corporate – business elsewhere (see here, here, and here).

Seventeen hours later, Telus apologized. But it’s not clear the real message has been received. Telus thinks the problem is that it ‘appeared’ to be ‘partisan’ and ‘political’ when it acted as a cheerleader for the Liberal Prime Minister and the Liberal environment minister.

The bigger picture is that it’s obscene for large corporations to applaud yet another tax being loaded onto the backs of hard-working Canadian families – many of whom are already struggling economically.

Telus’ original tweet linked to a statement which does exactly that – loudly praise this new tax. The other corporate entities doing the same:

  • The Co-operators
  • McKinsey & Company
  • Pan American Silver Corp.
  • Alterra Power Corp. (its chairman is ‘delighted’)
  • Unilever Canada
  • Desjardins Group
  • Venture Communications
  • BioAmber
  • Tembec
  • WWF Canada
  • Loblaw Companies (Shoppers Drug Mart, Real Canadian Superstore, Zehrs, Fortinos, Provigo, No Frills, valu-mart)

These corporations have gotten into bed with government. To support a brand new tax. That will make all of us poorer.



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This entry was posted on October 6, 2016 by in ethical & philosophical, World Wildlife Fund and tagged , , , .
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