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Eby defends B.C.’s carbon tax as federal NDP questioned over Ottawa’s version

B.C. premier’s statement of support comes as amidst declining political support for the carbon tax
Premier David Eby, here seen with education minister Rachna Singh, Tuesday (April 16) defended the provincial carbon tax once more as the federal NDP faces questions about its position on carbon taxation. (Screencap)

As questions continue to surround the federal NDP’s support for the federal carbon tax, Premier David Eby signalled his on-going support for the provincial version.

Speaking at an unrelated event in North Vancouver, Eby warned against removing the provincial carbon tax, which the B.C. Liberals introduced in 2008, then survived a provincial election in 2009.

He said the tax has become so “entrenched through multiple governments,” that its removal would result in a double-digit increase of personal and corporate taxes. “Obviously, people wouldn’t be very enthusiastic about that approach either,” Eby said in criticizing B.C United and the Conservative Party of B.C.

Eby made those comments when fielding questions about recent comments from federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.

RELATED: NDP supports ‘price on pollution’, Singh avoids direct response to carbon tax

Speaking last week at the annual Progress Summit, Singh created confusion about his party’s position on the federal carbon tax, according to Canadian Press.

Singh’s address praised “affordable, low-carbon options” and he promised not to “not punish people” who can’t change how they heat their homes or get to work.

Singh later said the New Democrats would bring forward a vision to tackle climate change that would emphasize initiatives with the most impact, such as methane regulations and a carbon price on industrial emitters.

“Make those even stricter, make those even stronger, look at other ways for us to really take on big polluters,” Singh told reporters last Thursday. “We don’t want working people to feel like they’re shouldering the burden. That’s not fair. And frankly, not a New Democrat solution to the problem.”

Speaking to reporters Monday, Singh would only say the party’s voting record makes clear that it supports “a price on pollution,” not specifying whether that includes a levy paid by consumers despite multiple questions to that effect.

“We absolutely support a price on pollution,” he said. “We have not changed our position on that.”

Singh’s statements come as the his party is losing support to the federal Conservatives, and after Manitoba’s NDP premier Wab Kinew had joined a group of premiers in opposition to the federal carbon tax. This has left Eby as the most high-profile defender of carbon taxation among Canada’s premiers.

RELATED: B.C. to ‘stick’ with April 1 carbon tax increase: Environment Minister

RELATED: Premier Eby: B.C. ‘won’t back down’ on carbon taxation

When asked when his government would change positions, Eby said B.C. finds itself in a “different situation than many other provinces” in pointing to the political history of the provincial tax. Its introduction predates the federal tax by just over a decade.

While both taxes are now aligned at $80 per tonne after having risen by $15 on April 1, Eby pointed out that the province is returning 100 per cent of that increase to low and middle-income British Columbian through the climate action tax credit as part of a broader portfolio of relief measures.

“(We) know affordability is a serious issue,” Eby said. “It’s targeted to families with low and middle-income and we are going to continue to make sure that we provide that affordability response,” he said.

Eby has in the past also pointed to the ecological and economic effects of climate change in defending the carbon tax. Leading environmental and economic organizations consider carbon tax one of, if not the most effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change.

Carbon taxes create what environmental economists call a double-divided: they reduce harmful emissions and encourage economic growth by refunneling investments into more energy-efficient, less environmentally-damaging uses and services.

-with files from Canadian Press

Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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