Steven Guilbeault’s jab at Doug Ford was part hyperbole, part truth

Hyperbole is one of those irresistible impulses that gets us into trouble every time we give in to the impulse. Especially when the blood heats up, it’s hard for anyone to resist taking their argument up a notch with a dash of exaggeration.

Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s environment minister, let loose a bit this week when he clashed with Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

Ford, as usual, criticized the federal carbon pricing program, a pillar of the Liberal government’s climate policy, claiming it is hurt families.

Guilbeault took the bait and fought back, noting that the refunds were worth much of the pain. An Ontario family of four will receive nearly $1,000 from the federal carbon pricing system, he said. That, for the most part, is true.

But Guilbeault could not resist one. parting shot:: “I find it incredibly rich coming from a prime minister who has no plan to fight climate change.”

This, of course, is not true. Ontario, despite Ford, who has trampled on climate initiatives since the day he was elected, has a few climate projects underway. Ford was quick to list them, noting that Ontario recently signed an agreement with Volkswagen to build a battery production company in St. Thomas, is spending thousands of millions to separate two steel plants from coal and is investing billions more in transit.

Still, anyone looking back at Ford’s climate record can forgive Guilbeault for bristling.

This, after all, is the prime minister who rolled back electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and halted Ontario’s EV rebate program as soon as he was elected in 2018. This is also the guy who announced the year past that Ontario was increasing its use of natural energy. gas to generate electricity, thus increasing carbon emissions.

And let’s not forget Ford’s eagerness to pave over part of the protected greenbelt to make way for sprawl, an ecological nightmare that leads to more roads, more traffic and, yes, higher emissions.

To be fair, one can hardly blame the federal climate minister, whose bona fide shows that he cares about climate progress, for being frustrated by people like Ford who clearly don’t.

When Steven Guilbeault accused Doug Ford of not having a climate plan, it wasn’t entirely true. But he was close to it. #onpoli #cdnpoli #CarbonTax

But Guilbeault’s exaggeration likely also stemmed from frustration with his own inability to convince many Canadians, particularly those in the oil-producing provinces, that federal refunds to families more than offset the financial impact of the fixation. of the carbon price. That message has been drowned out by the constant drumbeat from opposition leader Pierre Poilievre and like-minded prime ministers like Ford who generally resent federal taxes but have particular contempt for them.

The Liberal refund retort lost even more steam this week with the launch of a report by Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer, who concludes that most households will be left behind on the carbon tax. The reasoning was based on an overview of Canada’s sluggish economy. It examined the broad impact of the carbon price and its contribution to falling investment and overall income and concluded that average households would experience a “net loss”.

Most provinces have resisted the tax since Day 1, and this latest report will only increase their resolve to remove it, if given the chance. Ontario, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan had to be forced, kicks and screams, by liberals to adopt the federal tax regime. Alberta collapsed, but only after it, along with Ontario and Saskatchewan, moved into court to fight the tax and lost.

Anti-carbon price sentiment was a major factor in the so-called “Freedom Convoy” protests that blocked the borders and paralyzed the city of Ottawa last year. And more recently, Poilievre and Alberta Premier daniel smith they have been pushing the tax, and the message resonates with many people financially strapped by inflation and a looming recession.

All of that should have Guilbeault and the Liberals worried at a time when polls show them neck-and-neck with the Conservatives.

So sure, Guilbeault was guilty of hyperbole when he ripped the Ford strip. Anti-tax sentiment is running high and will surely be an election issue.

Fighting carbon pricing, which is a proven measure to reduce a country’s emissions, is a losing battle for humanity. Ford probably knows this, but talking about tax benefits, especially this one, doesn’t play into his base. So he will undoubtedly go on the offensive and Guilbeault will be forced to respond again and again.

A close look at Ford’s track record shows that Guilbeault’s comment is one of those cases where hyperbole comes close to being true. Still, the next time you go on the attack, it would be best to stick to the facts.

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