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LETTER: Langley letter-writer’s misrepresentations disappointing

Letter’s incorrect interpretation of reality countered point by point

Dear Editor,

I am deeply disappointed by Dean Clark’s letter to the editor [Everything is Hypocrisy, Langley Advance Times, May 22 Letters].

Clark has been published dozens of times, with each letter containing similar misrepresentations. Allow me to set the record straight and correct the misinformation disseminated by Clark.

Let’s start with the first falsehood. Huge tax breaks to the biggest polluters? This is wholly untrue. In the words of Chris Ragan, chair of Canada’s Eco-fiscal Commission “when Andrew Scheer talks about exemptions, he is either misunderstanding or intentionally misrepresenting how this system works.”

I must also point out that the federal carbon tax does not apply in B.C., and therefore has no impact on the cost of anything in B.C.

On Mr. Clark’s second falsehood, there was a tax hike for Canada’s wealthiest one per cent, but small businesses and middle-class families have both seen tax cuts.

The average individual making $48,000 per year is now $60 better off per paycheque in 2019, in comparison to 2015. This is a result of the Liberal tax cut for the middle class. Moreover, the small business tax rate has been lowered from 11 per cent to nine per cent.

With regards to veterans, Dean Clark has conveniently forgotten the cuts made by the Conservatives, which the Liberals have reinstated. The Harper government launched the largest cuts to staff at Veterans Affairs in history, and the Trudeau Liberals have invested more in veterans than any other government – exceeding $10 billion to date.

I trust this sets the record straight on the many falsehoods presented by Dean Clark on May 22.

For additional detail on each of the 3 points raised by Dean Clark, I offer the following information:

Carbon tax

B.C. has had a price on pollution for 11 years, and research has shown B.C. is leading the nation in terms of reducing GHG emissions and in economic growth. A carbon tax is an effective policy tool to reduce emissions and protect the environment, while still growing the economy.

To further clarify some myths around the carbon tax, let me break down the sticker price we pay at the pump. In B.C. less than $0.09/litre goes towards general revenue in the form of carbon tax, while $0.17 goes to TransLink, and less than $0.07 goes to the BC Transportation Financing Authority (BCTFA).

In B.C. we pay nearly $0.32/litre in provincial taxes; however, stating that carbon tax is causing high gas prices is a huge oversimplification, as carbon tax is a small percentage of the total tax paid.

Gasoline prices

What’s more, the high price of gasoline itself can be mostly attributed to economics. We face tight supply on the Lower Mainland. Burnaby’s Parkland refinery is a key supplier, but it can only meet a portion of the demand. That means supply has to come from elsewhere, like the Cherry Point refinery in Washington state.

Moreover, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives published a study in April that found that Vancouver motorists are paying Alberta oil-refiners 20-30 cents more per litre than customers in Calgary and Toronto. We are being gouged at the pump because of restricted supply. Refiners are taking an increase in profits just because they can.

The high cost of gas in B.C. is a complex issue mostly caused by market forces, but also exacerbated by a combination of provincial taxes. This is not something that can simply be blamed on B.C.’s carbon tax, or on Justin Trudeau.

Poverty

Poverty has been reduced in Canada by 20 per cent, achieving the lowest poverty rate in Canadian history.

Canada is currently enjoying the lowest unemployment rate since 1976, and over one million jobs have been created since 2015, most of which are full-time. Canada’s GDP continues to grow, and Canadians are subjected to one of the lowest tax rates of all OECD countries, even lower than the United States.

In addition, the monthly Canada Child Benefit offers families who need support up to $553 per month per child. This tax-free benefit has been indexed twice to keep up with the cost of living and inflation. Only the wealthiest one per cent in Canada would want to see an end to this support for our next generation of Canadians and a return to Harper-era cutbacks and austerity.

Veterans Affairs

The Conservative government cut nearly a quarter of Veterans’ Affairs staff – 900 jobs were lost and nine Veterans Affairs offices were closed.

Some of the worst of the cuts affected the disability awards branch. On top of massive cuts, the Harper government slashed lifetime pensions for veterans, left $1.13 billion unspent, and muzzled wounded veterans.

When Sean Bruyea spoke out against legislation to strip veterans of life-time pensions, he never imagined the government would try and smear his reputation using his own medical records.

The Harper government did just that and was later forced to apologize for its actions. This move was both unscrupulous and illegal. No veteran would want to see the Conservatives back in power.

Our government has done much to right these wrongs, including reopening all the offices that were closed, reinstating pensions, and increasing funding on all fronts – including support for PTSD.

I encourage any veteran out there who needs assistance with funding to please call my office. I’m happy to connect you with the many services now available.

Omar Khadr

The racist vitriol and misinformation regarding Omar Khadr are also egregious.

The law clearly states you are innocent until proven guilty. Khadr was not afforded this basic principle of our justice system. The payout was to compensate for the failure of the Harper Conservatives in upholding the rights of this particular Canadian to a fair trial.

The courts determined compensation was appropriate, and fighting this would have only delayed what would undoubtedly have become an even larger settlement for failure to act by the Conservative government.

Suggesting the government is merely giving away money to terrorists is dangerous, malicious, and false. This man’s human rights were breached when he was locked in Guantanamo Bay and unable to be extradited to Canada for a fair trial because of the actions of the Harper Conservatives.

Khadr was the first person since World War II to be prosecuted in a military commission for war crimes committed while still a minor. His conviction and sentence were denounced by many civil rights groups and the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.

An Alberta Court of the Queen’s Bench Judge ruled Khadr’s time on conditional release counted towards his sentence, which was declared completed, in March of this year.

The making of this difficult file rests entirely with the former Conservative government, and the settlement was determined by our independent court system.

John Aldag, Cloverdale-Langley City MP

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