If Trudeau Does Only One Thing In His Tenure,
The Carbon Tax Should Be It
By Terri Chu
If Prime Minister Trudeau does nothing while in office but implement a carbon tax, I will consider it a successful tenure.
The country, actually, the world, is facing an unprecedented crisis and we still have shills, paid for by big business, disputing the legitimacy of science while hurricanes and wildfires engulf vulnerable populations.
Trudeau has come under criticism for the carbon tax move, being called everything from a conspiracy theorist to a shill for the big eco money (I scratched my head too).
In my opinion though, he’s finally doing something that takes courage.
Accepting Syrian refugees was an easy decision. Most of the country stood behind him and many are still in limbo waiting for their sponsored families to arrive.
This is different: provinces are fighting him and there is a lot of discontent among the population.
A friend complained to me that this is nothing but a money grab. If governments actually cared about “green” they would have built infrastructure in place. Driving to Ottawa costs a fraction that taking the bus does, he pointed out.
He’s right about one thing. Until now, there was no government that was actually serious about tackling the issue. Trudeau is trying to reverse over a half century of public policy aimed at getting you and me into cars, enslaving us to Exxon Mobile. During the post war era, transportation secretaries in the US were often former automaker executives. Their policies made their way here when jobs were dependent on manufacturing plants in Ontario.
A carbon tax is the first step in reversing decades of public policy aimed at cars. Trudeau is but taking a baby step and mayors like Toronto's John Tory are still fighting him, stuck in Fonzie’s Happy Days when the car meant independence. While Trudeau talks carbon tax, Tory makes car friendly transportation announcements.
While a carbon tax sets us up for the future, Tory governs like he’s still in the past. His asking the TTC to trim its budget is the epitome of visionless leadership. The car era is over and the next generation of voters isn’t going to care that retimed traffic lights cut travel times for cars. What that generation needs is public policy aimed at allowing them to make economical decisions that are environmentally sustainable.
The marginal cost of taking public transit is now higher than driving and the Mayor still insists that it’s for those who can’t afford a car. I have news, Mayor Tory: it costs more to live car-free than to move to the suburbs with a car and drive into the city.
There’s a reason homes with ready access to the subway are priced out of range of most young families. People want to live there. But do you know what would also fix the housing affordability crisis? More houses on rapid transit, and that means more rapid transit! If we really wanted to help those at the lower end of the economic spectrum, we would be building subways to low income neighbourhoods like Rexdale.
Without a federal carbon tax, the cost of driving is just too artificially low. Keeping gas prices low perpetuates the cycle we are already stuck in.
Should Trudeau not score any other political wins, this one cements him as an environmental leader.
It’s a move our children will eventually be thankful for.