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Low expectations

by Patrick Raftis

If the secret to success really is low expectations, perhaps there will be a measure by which the Ontario government’s recently-unveiled climate change plan can be judged an accomplishment.

That the Ford government’s plan, rolled out last week, is incredibly unambitious should hardly be surprising. Climate change is so low on their priority list they didn’t ever bother to offer the bare bones of a policy during the election campaign that brought them to office, preferring instead to promise to dismantle Ontario’s cap and trade system and fight the federal government’s planned carbon tax, even though both measures would have benefited the province’s treasury. Scrapping cap and trade is projected to cost the Ontario government $3 billion in revenue over the next four years and they have set aside $50 million to fight the carbon tax.

The feds, for their part, will now proceed to impose a carbon tax, which would not have occurred had cap and trade been left in place, and distribute funds raised directly to Ontarians, rather than provincial government coffers.

Instead of the cap and trade approach of placing a price on pollution to be paid by polluters, the PCs are proposing a $400 million fund of tax dollars to be distributed as incentives to  essentially pay businesses to come up with green technology. How this will be spun as different from subsidizing producers of alternative energy, as the last government was lambasted for, will be interesting to watch.

At any rate, instead of polluting businesses bearing the expense, individual taxpayers will pick up the tab to pay polluters for what many pundits are describing as yet another corporate welfare program.

Among the ironies in the plan is its stated goal of reducing Ontario’s emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, a target about 25% less ambitious than what the previous government was aiming for. It won’t take much to hit the new goal because Ontario’s current emissions are already 22% under 2005 levels. The irony is we got there mostly by dint of the much-maligned Liberals’ successful effort to take coal-burning out of Ontario’s energy equation, a costly endeavour that allowed the Ford folks to make hydro prices a major election issue.

It’s also worth noting the new “targets” are just that. The plan comes with no guarantees and reports indicate emissions have actually continued to rise under similar plans adopted by other governments, including Australia and Saskatchewan.

Looks like another win “For the People,” provided the people weren’t expecting a whole lot.


December 7, 2018


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