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Evan Saugstad: Canadians running on fumes

In a perverse sense, the current high energy prices are a good thing. Not good in the short term for inflation and our runaway cost of living, but good in the sense it gives us an honest and real time look at our future with high energy prices.
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Evan Saugstad: "If I had to guess, most Canadians now question just where we are headed with the plans of forcing higher energy prices so we can give continue to give those tax dollars away to others and ignore our lack of medical services, crappy roads, or lack of protection from floods or fires. No better reminder of what this means as one watches the price-o-meter at the gas pump whirl by faster than you can count, and as so much of that money is sucked up by Ottawa and Victoria to be used on their pet projects."

Carbon taxes went up in April, and, if you weren’t aware, so too the GST, as that is calculated after the carbon and excise taxes, are added; yes, we are taxed on the tax.

Today, with the high cost of energy, what do you think of future carbon taxes increases to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s $150/tonne target? Do you ever think he or Premier John Horgan will recognize our plight and cut energy taxes and lower their emissions targets, or will they continue to make us pay more in their efforts to save their face?

For reference, our current rate of $50/tonne equates to about $0.11/litre for gasoline; $150/tonne means another $0.22/litre increase, plus GST.

In a perverse sense, the current high energy prices are a good thing. Not good in the short term for inflation and our runaway cost of living, but good in the sense it gives us an honest and real time look at our future with high energy prices.

It's now easy to see costs skyrocketing, everything from that head of lettuce to family vacations to maintaining one’s home. Hard to think of anything that gets cheaper as the cost of energy goes up.

Sadly, what we see and feel today is exactly what our governments were intending for us with their carbon pricing proposals — Hoping to pass the outcomes and fallout from high energy prices on to future governments, but, fortunately, or otherwise, it has happened much faster than they calculated, and now, they do not know what to do, or how to respond.

Do you think federal environment minister Guilbeault would stand up in Parliament and support lowering energy taxes, so we have more to spend on essentials like food and housing? Does transportation minister Alghabra really want to end his out-of-date COVID travel mandates so we can travel more and increase Canada’s green house gas emissions? Does Trudeau even care about such mundane things as our cost of living when it is his desire to be the shiny example to the rest of the world?

Rhetoric aside, reactions to these latest price increases are interesting. No longer does one see a steady barrage about increasing carbon taxes as being the panacea. No longer are the majority writing about and promoting the need for more electric car subsidies, or more taxpayer dollars being handed out to those wising to buy windmills or solar panels, like it's Monopoly money.

We now see Premier Ford being re-elected in Ontario without even mentioning reducing greenhouse emissions. We see Pierre Poilievre leading the polls and Conservative leadership race by telling Canadians he would increase gas and oil production and make Canada the supplier of choice to the rest of the world, and we see U.S. Democrats coming to Canada to find out if they can get more oil from the sands.

If I had to guess, most Canadians now question just where we are headed with the plans of forcing higher energy prices so we can give continue to give those tax dollars away to others and ignore our lack of medical services, crappy roads, or lack of protection from floods or fires. No better reminder of what this means as one watches the price-o-meter at the gas pump whirl by faster than you can count, and as so much of that money is sucked up by Ottawa and Victoria to be used on their pet projects.

Today, we are once again coming to grips with the reality that fossil fuels are not going away anytime soon, despite the anti-fossil-fuel crowd forecasting otherwise. It's also slowly sinking into some of our more astute politicians that we are and will continue to live with fossil fuels as a central part of our lives for decades to come.

Yes, and we have even seen some of Canada’s more progressive governments begin to cancel some of the taxes on energy to help with the affordability. Just some, just not all, just not yet.

Even the greenest of the greenies are picking up that the average person does not wish to be reminded that increasing taxes on energy is a good thing. Some are even beginning to switch gears and their messages, and some of what they propose, is interesting, to say the least. But all have one ulterior motive, and that is to keep their anti-fossil message in the news, no matter how absurd or obtuse, and try to get our focus off cost and affordability.

Some now propose that government require all energy producers to produce detailed reports outlining the end use of all their products of how much greenhouse gas each produces, as if we do not understand that already. Some say this would force energy companies to spend more on windmills and solar panels to help with their image… sort of like telling B.C. forestry companies that they should be buying agriculture land in Saskatchewan so they can cut wheat instead of trees?

Another proposal is to ban all advertising by energy companies and only allow advertisements from companies of their choosing, such as auto manufacturers, airlines, and cruise ships that fit their definition as “best in class” on their greenhouse gas emission acceptability chart. Row boats instead of cruise ships anyone?

No matter what, it is finally sinking in that no politician can spend his or her way out of this dilemma, and that high energy prices and the resulting high cost of living is making for upset voters. Some are beginning to realize that the only way to make us happier is for lower prices, which mean lower taxes and/or more production. Today, neither of these fit the current narrative for either federal or provincial governments. Tomorrow, well, maybe?

We should be thankful that without changes means neither can win the next election. Just unfortunate that elections are still years away, but, maybe not, at least federally, if Jagmeet’s friends over at the union halls get tired of spending too many of their unemployment checks at the pumps while they wait for the economy to pick up and they go back to work.


Evan Saugstad lives and writes in Fort St. John.

Have a story or opinion to share? Email your letters to editor@ahnfsj.ca