Prime Minister Justin Trudeau demonstrated his willingness to fight the 2019 election campaign defending the upcoming carbon tax on Monday.
Asked by Maclean’s journalist Paul Wells about going to the voters with the proposition of a new and increasing yearly tax, the Prime Minister said: “The alternative, is people who want to make pollution free.
“I don’t think it should be free to pollute.”
When companies pump raw sewage or chemicals into waterways and don’t bother to pay to clean it up, the costs, Trudeau noted, get borne by the towns downstream, by the citizens who can no longer swim, or bathe, or drink their tap water. “That is irresponsible,” he said.
“We should, and we do make companies that pollute limit their pollution or pay for the clean-up of their pollution. That’s exactly the principle we are moving with. It’s about basic fairness.”
The prime minister said putting a price on carbon — as his government campaigned to do in 2015, and developed a plan in 2017 with the support of nearly all provinces, is a way of to bring in government revenue, but also to promote good behaviour.
He said that if companies are free to pollute, they would not be bothered about prevention of pollution.
“If it costs you something to pollute, well maybe it is cheaper to actually clean it up at the source instead of polluting in the first place,” he said. “It’s a basic small ‘c’ conservative economic principle around internalizing externalities that is something that big “C’ conservatives don’t seem to get.
“I’m still waiting for Andrew Scheer’s promised comprehensive detailed plan to fight climate change that won’t include a price on carbon. I think we are all waiting for that, but I think none of us should hold our breath,” Trudeau added, taking a swing at his Tory opponent.
In Halifax last month, Scheer told Conservatives at his party’s convention that his first act in government would be to scrap the carbon tax.
The federal government was scheduled to begin taxing polluters last January, but the Trudeau plan is nearly a year behind schedule, and provincial elections, a court decision and electoral considerations have thrown wrenches into the Liberals’ plans.
Trudeau, however, told Wells that the carbon plan would be in place in the new year.