- The Energy Mix - https://www.theenergymix.com -

Conservatives Swing, Miss with Claims About New Green Levy

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said the Conservatives are lying with allegations of a secret government plan to add a green tax to pickup trucks.

There have been several tweets from Tory MPs, the Conservative party, and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney over the last week insisting the government is about to extend a federal green levy to pickups, The Canadian Press reports.

  • Be among the first to read The Energy Mix Weekender
  • A brand new weekly digest containing exclusive and essential climate stories from around the world.
  • The Weekender:The climate news you need.

Another example of a Conservative politician & organization spreading disinformation to serve their own partisan interests,” Guilbeault tweeted last Wednesday, responding to Conservative MP and leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre.

“This so-called fee on trucks doesn’t exist,” he added. “It’s fear mongering, plain and simple.”

Poilievre said in his tweet that the government is going to “slap thousands in new taxes on anyone who buys a truck.” He encouraged supporters to join his campaign to “axe the truck tax.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney followed suit Thursday, tweeting that “the Liberal-NDP coalition is planning a punishing tax on working people for buying pickup trucks.”

The federal Conservative party as a whole joined in with multiple tweets Thursday and Friday, asking if Canadians could “afford a $4,000 tax on your truck or SUV?”

The green levy being referred to already affects SUVs. In 2007 the Conservative government under then-prime minister Stephen Harper introduced what they called a “green levy for gas guzzlers” as part of a number of offerings for “ensuring a cleaner, healthier environment.”

A rebate for more fuel-efficient vehicles brought in at the same time only lasted two years, but the green levy is still in effect.

It adds between C$1,000 to $4,000 to cars, SUVs, and vans with higher-than-average fuel consumption when they are purchased or imported into Canada. There are currently 60 models tagged with the levy.

The vast majority are high-end luxury cars from brands like Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, and Lamborghini, which all have starting prices over $200,000, or big SUVs like the Dodge Durango and the Toyota Sequoia.

In their 2007 budget, the Conservatives predicted the levy would bring in $215 million in the first two years. But CP says it has not come anywhere close to that, averaging about $15 million a year in revenues. Over 14 years, the total revenue from the green levy is $220 million, including less than $4 million in 2020-21.

It did not apply to pickups in 2007, and has not for the 15 years it has existed.

Guilbeault said the Liberals are not proposing to extend it to trucks regardless of the Conservative accusations.

“This kind of politics is divisive and distracting from the important work we all have to do to fight climate change,” he said.

The accusation stems from a recommendation made to Guilbeault last month by the Net Zero Advisory Body tasked with helping guide the government’s policies to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The call to expand the green levy to pickups is one of 40 recommendations in its submission on the government’s new emissions reduction plan. When Environment and Climate Change Canada published its Emissions Reduction Plan a couple of weeks later, the NZAB report was included in full as an annex—and clearly signposted as an external report.

NZAB co-chair Dan Wicklum, CEO of The Transition Accelerator, told CP the advice came as part of a suite of policies trying to make all levels of government, the private sector, and individual Canadians step up and take responsibility for their own contributions to climate change.

He said pickup trucks are not very efficient as personal vehicles, but the body also was cognizant in its advice that any new levy needed to take into account the impact it would have on vulnerable populations.

“We felt it was quite balanced advice, and actually, we’re a bit disappointed when people misrepresent it,” he said.

Wicklum said there are no requirements for the government to take up the advice, nor should there be.

“Our role is to give advice but it’s up to the government to decide whether they take the advice or not,” he said. “And that’s the way it should be in a democracy.”

The Liberals are extending a rebate program to lower the cost of buying new zero-emission vehicles for another three years, and will increase the maximum qualifying price to ensure new electric SUVs and pickups coming on the market can get the rebate.

All vehicle owners, including pickup drivers, pay the carbon price on fuel purchased for their vehicles. Pickups, which typically use more gasoline per kilometre driven, will generally cost more in carbon tax to run.

The main body of this report was first published by The Canadian Press on April 15, 2022.