I call them Manitoba’s “climate chickens.”
Premier Greg Selinger and Finance Minister Stan Struthers had a golden opportunity to tackle this province’s climate change woes bravely and effectively. And, they blew it.
During the last election campaign, they (and the other major parties) seemed to conspire to keep climate change off the table, altogether.
Their lips were sealed, even though the evidence was staring them in their faces. Now, apparently, they’ve been dragged kicking and screaming to the next level —recognizing that it is happening, after all.
In his budget speech, for example, Mr. Struthers concedes, at long last, “Our climate is changing, bringing an increased frequency of major flooding.”
(Apparently, flood-fighting costs in this province have jumped, four-fold over the past 15 years compared to the previous 15.)
And so, they claim, they need more money to pay the billions of dollars in damage which that flooding has caused.
So, what do they do?
Instead of biting the bullet and bringing in a carbon tax, like B.C. did successfully several years ago, they strangely decide to hike the provincial sales tax by one percent!
What on earth has the PST got to do with climate change? Not only is it surely proving just as unpopular as a carbon tax would have been, it is probably a regressive one — shifting an unfair portion of the cost onto the poor — at the same time.
Sure, B.C.’s carbon tax isn’t popular, either. But, while it discourages people from burning fossil fuels of any kind, it also rebates them in other ways, through reductions in income tax, for example.
And, it’s working.
An economist who studied its effects found that, within three years of its introduction, the carbon emissions and fossil fuel consumption had dropped more in B.C. than anywhere else in Canada by a significant margin! His conclusion; these emissions reductions are attributable to the carbon tax.
Don’t forget, it is these emissions which are to blame for catastrophic global warming and an increase in the frequency and severity of such severe weather events as we are seeing right now in Alberta.
Sadly, as long as our leaders think they can use climate change as some kind of excuse for bringing in unpopular tax increases that do nothing to lessen its ravages, we can all brace for more floods, wildfires, droughts and crop losses in our future.
And our climate chickens will truly have come home to roost!