Canadian drivers raced to gas stations to fill up their tanks Sunday before the Trudeau administration’s carbon tax went into effect at midnight and raised prices at the pump roughly 12 cents per gallon.
The carbon tax went into effect Monday in four Canadian provinces resisting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s climate change agenda. Canadians in Ontario, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan will see fuel prices increase.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who won a landslide election in 2018 opposing a carbon tax, urged residents to head to the pumps before Trudeau’s carbon tax went into effect. Ford joined other conservative premiers in a challenging the carbon tax in court.
“Make no mistake, the carbon tax is the worst tax ever,” Ford said as he filled up his car in a video posted to social media Sunday. “It will make everything more expensive!”
Conservative members of Ontario’s parliament also posted photos and videos of themselves filling up on gas before the federal carbon tax went into effect Monday. Lawmakers also posted photos of Ontario residents filling up on gas late at night, just hours before the carbon tax took effect.
The carbon tax is part of Trudeau’s plan to cut Canada’s carbon footprint in line with the Paris climate accord. Trudeau’s plan calls for levying a federal carbon tax on Canadian provinces that don’t already price emissions.
Ontario previously had a cap-and-trade program, but it was scrapped by Ford’s conservative coalition last year. With his 2018 election victory, Ford joined the growing ranks of premiers opposed to the federal carbon tax.
Trudeau’s carbon tax starts at $15 per metric ton of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to a 12 cents per gallon gasoline tax. The carbon tax will rise every year, hitting $37 per ton of emissions by 2022.
Most of the $1.7 billion in revenue the carbon tax is expected to generate this year will be sent back to households as a rebate for higher energy prices. Proponents say carbon tax payments for many families will actually outweigh energy price increases.
Despite the rebates, drivers sat in lines Sunday waiting to fill up before the carbon tax hit. Heating bills and airline ticket prices will also rise due to the carbon tax.
Critics say the carbon tax will hit small businesses the hardest since offsets for higher energy prices are skewed towards households. Though, economists don’t expect the carbon tax to affect economic growth much in the near-term.
Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec already price carbon dioxide emissions, thus aren’t affected by the federal tax. However, Alberta seems likely to elect a new premier who will scrap the provinces climate taxes, meaning Trudeau’s carbon tax could extend there in the near future.
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