Distributed to the five newspapers which cover Halton, but embargoed until after the Green Shift launch. The asterisks denote information – words, phrases or sentences – that will be released after the plan is made public. — Garth
One day last week, every street corner around Parliament Hill sprouted pairs of people in garish yellow T-shirts. They stuffed yellow cards into the hands of passing pedestrians and offered them up at car windows. On them was a sad-looking picture of the federal Liberal leader, and the words, â€œDionâ€™s tax on everything.â€
Eventually it was revealed these were staffers for Conservative MPs, which means they were campaigning while being on the public payroll. So much for ethics.
But ripping off taxpayers isnâ€™t the point of this tale. Instead, itâ€™s about an epic battle going on in Ottawa which will end up affecting all of us.
On one side are the ruling Harper Conservatives, who, according to environmental experts, have done diddly about climate change in two-and-a-half years of government. The Alberta oil sands still create more greenhouses gases than any other industrial complex in North America, while homeowners have no federal incentives to become energy-efficient and our highways are clogged with gas-sucking SUVs. The weak Tory plan will have no real effect for another decade.
At the same time, gas and energy prices are going nuts, the economy is slowing fast and weâ€™ve shed more than 300,000 manufacturing jobs in a year. This is adding up to far too much financial stress for Canadian families.
On the other side is the Liberal Green Shift plan, launched *** â€“ and the reason all those yellow-shirted staffers were dispatched to the streets. The Liberal plan would immediately **** the oil sands, and every other industry emitting gunk into the air. The money raised by this so-called carbon tax would be used to **** for consumers â€“ families and workers. That means as costs gradually change for energy (**** for a BBQ fill-up, and about **** to heat a house with natural gas â€“ after four years), personal income taxes would ****.
The plan would ****, as well as bring in **** for families with kids, for seniors, low-income folks and those who have to use a lot of energy, like farmers and northern dwellers. We figure, for example, a family with two kids, making $60,000 will get about **** in tax savings and ****. A family of four with an income of just $20,000, will get ****.
So, the Conservatives are not stopping pollution, not cutting income taxes and trying to shred Dion. The Liberals would hit polluters immediately, cut **** from taxes and ensure nobodyâ€™s worse off for doing the right thing.
And thereâ€™s more. The Liberals want to encourage a big investment in green collar jobs through ****, more investment in **** and tax breaks for ****. And thereâ€™ll be new programs to help homeowners ****, more money for ****, enhanced **** in cars, and much more.
Finally, what about gas? No increase in gas taxes. Period. Over **** years, though, the pollution tax ****, but by then every taxpayer in the country will have more than enough tax savings to cover that. More importantly, we all hope cars will be less thirsty and maybe even running on electricity or compressed air.
This Green Shift is not law yet. Itâ€™s a big idea, but will start to happen if Stephane Dion becomes prime minister. And because the guy is a different kind of politician, heâ€™s detailed the whole thing now so we can debate it and understand it. No yellow shirts. No slogans. No lies. Just a national discussion. How weird is that?
BTW, itâ€™s all here: www.***.ca.
Garth Turner is Haltonâ€™s ***. Reach him directly at [email protected]
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