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Calls in Quesnel to Axe The Tax on carbon

Protests took place across B.C., including in Quesnel, opposing the carbon tax

Quesnel joined in with the widespread provincial protest of the carbon tax, on Apr. 1.

Many communities in B.C. and across Canada had conjoining rallies or other expressions of discontent, and in some cases in mobile fashion on highways, over the costs imposed by the federal and provincial governments on carbon emissions.

The date of the coordinated protest was not random. Monday was the day the federal government boosted the already unpopular carbon tax. B.C. has its own version of the tax, related but not identical to the federal toll. B.C. environment minister George Heyman confirmed that the province is maintaining the $15 increase, meaning that the 2024 rate per ton is up to $80 from last year’s $65 per ton.

These taxes are applied to consumers most noticeably in ways like vehicle fuel and home heating, but also imbedded in higher prices for goods and services as commercial/industrial interests also pay a carbon levy.

According to a Black Press Media report, gasoline prices jumped four cents per litre in the Port Alberni area when the tax rate was raised on Apr. 1, and a separate Black Press Media report from the Kootenays saw prices jump by three cents per litre.

Both the provincial NDP and the federal Liberals, as governing parties, have explained that carbon taxes are designed to pressure the emitters of greenhouse gases to reduce their pollution, and that lower income taxpayers get rebates through the carbon tax process. Overall, 65 per cent of all taxed households will receive full or partial rebates, with 1.3 million receiving full rebates.

Those points have been downplayed by opponents.

The federal Conservative Party as well as the provincially based BC Conservative Party and BC United Party are both leading the political side of the protests, calling for the ending of the carbon tax. Prince George-Cariboo MP Todd Doherty called to “Axe The Tax” at a recent town hall meeting in Quesnel, echoed by BC United Party MLA Coralee Oakes, and visiting MLA colleagues Ellis Ross and Ian Paton.

Their main concerns expressed at that meeting centred on the inflationary effect and the in-the-moment-of-purchase effects on consumers who can ill afford it, in the current economy.

Elsewhere in British Columbia, BC United leader Kevin Falcon joined about 70 protesters in Richmond. Falcon said the 23 per cent increase in the levy is a “cruel April Fools’ joke” on B.C. residents, especially when residents pay the highest gas taxes in the country.

John Rustad, the leader of the Conservative Party of BC, also attended that rally and said by 2030 the average family of four will have paid close to $27,000 in the carbon fees.

An open letter signed by hundreds of economists across Canada supports carbon pricing as the “least-cost way to reduce emissions” while also refuting common criticism of carbon pricing programs.

The letter says carbon pricing has had a “negligible” effect on inflation, and that Canada’s’ greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by nine per cent since 2019.

“Our riding, of course, we’re agricultural so we get hit harder than a lot of the cities … talking to Top Crop (a farm and garden supplier), their charges for freight is going up April 1 [by] 43 per cent,” said Conservative MP Rob Morrison to the Cranbrook Daily Townsman newspaper. “Where does it end? Where does affordability come in when you’re talking about fresh food, whether it’s poultry, whether it’s our dairy farmers, whether it’s our ranchers? Everything is just going up increasingly so much that it’s just unaffordable. And what has it done? What has the carbon tax done? I don’t see any change at all.”

Quesnel had two primary protest sites: the gold pan beside the downtown train station, and the junction of Highway 97 and the Barkerville Highway. BC Conservative candidate Sheldon Clare was prominent in the crowd.

With Black Press Media files from Trevor Crawley, Susie Quinn and Wolfgang Depner plus Bill Graveland of Canadian Press, and Quesnel photographer Julie Dorge

Frank Peebles

About the Author: Frank Peebles

I started my career with Black Press Media fresh out of BCIT in 1994, as part of the startup of the Prince George Free Press, then editor of the Lakes District News.
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