Letters to the editor – September 13, 2018

Made-in-Manitobacarbon tax preferable

Manitobans have questions about the carbon tax that is coming in a few months. You want to know how it will impact you, your family and our economy. And of course you want to know why it is coming in the first place.

Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government in Ottawa has decided that there must be a nationwide carbon tax. They have repeatedly threatened to force such a tax on provinces that do not implement their own. As Saskatchewan and Ontario are now doing, our government considered taking legal action to fight the tax. We obtained a legal opinion regarding the legality of the federal government’s approach. The conclusion was that Ottawa has the power to impose a carbon tax on provinces that do not introduce their own.

In other words, Manitoba gets the Trudeau tax if we don’t have our own plan. It’s either made-in-Ottawa or made-in-Manitoba. Under the Trudeau plan, however, the tax would be collected by the federal government — more than $1 billion over four years, at rising rates set by Ottawa — with no guarantee Manitobans would get any of that money back.

Doing nothing is not an option. Our government is not prepared to send a billion dollars to Ottawa and hope it comes back some day. We have a duty to defend the interests of Manitobans, and that is what we are doing.

After more than a year of consultations with Manitobans, environmental experts, farmers, business owners and other stakeholders, we have designed a Made-in-Manitoba Climate and Green Plan. It recognizes that we all share a responsibility, an obligation, to better protect our environment; to make changes that will benefit not only ourselves but also our children and future generations. It will protect our environment better than the federal plan, and it will also better protect our economy.

While the Trudeau tax will increase to $50 per tonne over five years, and possibly much higher after that, our plan will have a rate of $25 per tonne. That rate will not change. It’s flat like the prairie horizon and will be among Canada’s lowest. Compared to Ottawa’s tax, our flat, fixed rate will save Manitoba families and businesses over $260 million over the first five years. It will provide certainty and stability to consumers, business, industry and agriculture.

Most importantly, all money collected under our made-in-Manitoba plan will be returned to Manitobans in the form of tax reductions with lower income tax, lower sales tax and a lower small business tax. As indicated earlier, we have no control over whether a tax is brought in. However, what we can control is that, by having our own plan, we can ensure the money collected will be returned to you.

In short, the carbon tax is being forced upon Manitobans by the Trudeau government, which has the constitutional power to do so. In response, our government is standing up for you and your family with a made-in-Manitoba plan that is better for your wallet and better protects our economy and our environment.

Rochelle Squires
Manitoba minister of sustainable development
Winnipeg

Man. NDP delayed carbon tax plan

Saturday, Sept. 1 was supposed to be the first day of Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister’s carbon tax on rural families and businesses. It’s not being implemented yet because my NDP colleagues and I stopped him, at least for a few months.

I know some of you may be thinking, “the NDP giving us a tax break? What, is it going to snow today, too?” We did it because it was the right thing to do, and there were lots of reasons to do it. One of the most important was that it saved Manitobans $60 million in taxes between now and December.

I want Manitoba families to have the support they need to make green choices, keep life affordable and protect our environment. But we won’t get any of those things with Pallister’s carbon tax grab — life will get less affordable without programs to help the average family reduce their carbon footprint or help the environment. That’s why the Manitoba NDP used our power as the official opposition to delay Pallister’s carbon tax and as a result, save Manitoba families $60 million.

Brian Pallister first promised a carbon tax in the 2016 election. He had two years to come up with a plan that would keep life affordable for families. Instead, he’s taking money from your pocket and giving big business a free pass for a year. His “Green Plan” is nothing more than a cash grab. 

I know the average rural family cares about the future of our environment. You depend on the land and water. You often feel the effects of climate change first, more than some urban families do. But rural families also have to spend more on gas and heat. You want to fight climate change; you just don’t want to break the bank doing it.

That’s why it makes no sense that the premier would bring in a plan that actually makes it harder for rural families to protect the environment. His plan doesn’t invest in green programs that help families reduce emissions, like using less gas, investing in an energy efficient furnace or using solar power. Instead, he’s taking more money out of your pocket — leaving you with less cash to spend on green alternatives.

The first question to ask of any green plan is whether every dollar made by the tax helps rural families and business owners protect the environment while making life more affordable. Pallister’s plan fails that basic test. Our party delayed his tax so that Manitobans can have the chance to have their say on the premier’s plan.

Wab Kinew
Leader of Manitoba NDP
Winnipeg

Climate science not religion

Re: Climate change: is it science or religion? (WP Aug. 16, column by Kevin Hursh)

Religion is faith or belief-based. It’s how you can believe in a made-up god. There have been thousands of religions in the history of mankind and they’ve all operated pretty much the same way — on faith. Someone tells you something and you say, “OK.”

Science, on the other hand, is not a faith-based construct. It takes nothing on faith. In place of gullibility it relies on the scientific method. That’s a fact-based construct. Observation, experimentation, analysis — knowledge based stuff. And, unlike religion, science is open, public. The results are published. So, too, is the methodology. Others then replicate the experiments to see if they obtain the same results. 

 Climate science is a rich blend of disciplines — geology, physics, chemistry, geography, botany and agronomy, atmospherics, hydrology, biology, marine biology, glaciation, medical sciences including epidemiology, infectious diseases, etc., and a range of other earth sciences. Each science tests the central thesis against its own discipline. And, guess what? There’s not one that has refuted the central thesis of anthropogenic climate change.

Almost all the science has been interpreted (translated) for laypeople. Hursh should not dismiss climate science as some sort of religion. Save that stuff for church.

R.W. Dresser
Parksville, B.C.

Let’s return to summerfallow

As the previous decade progressed, we witnessed the constant decline of the bee population. Apparently, this is not a Canadian phenomena but I found it is worldwide. Personally, we had no bees around the yard this summer. There are a few here now.

Last year I did notice a decline also in the flying insect population. Over the years the birds that rely upon them for food would be here until mid-September and then migrate south. Last year the insect population was down as even my summer driving resulted in very small windshield hits from bees and insects.

Last summer the birds began migrating south in mid-August — a month early as the flying insect population was lower. This year those birds nested earlier and began leaving mid-July as the population is again down.

Whatever is causing the bee population decline is also apparently reducing the insect population. Even horseflies.

Through the media we hear that is attributed to a certain chemical. Question is, could that decline also be because of the ever-increasing use of all chemicals used for crop production and protection? That question comes up as in the last century mankind has increased use of chemicals for health, crop and livestock production.

As the timeline goes along in all cases, newer and more intense chemicals are being used. Are there unknown problems beginning to generate from the combined use of certain crop protection products? Further, are we getting to the point where we will lose all our protection?

A few years ago my neighbour stated he had the best way to lower weed populations, other than chemical. He stated summerfallow was better as weeds could not stand up to a piece of metal cutting off their root system abruptly. There is no chemical resistance in summerfallowing.

Delwyn Jansen
Humboldt, Sask.

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