Transcript: The Long, Strange Journey of Carbon Pricing in Canada | Sep 16, 2019

♪
STEVE PAIKIN:
Welcome to the #onpoli Podcast.
I'm Steve Paikin.
JOHN MICHAEL MCGRATH:
And I'm John Michael McGrath.
STEVE:
Here we are, John Michael.
Episode two.
We are back
in the swing of things.
My important question
for you, good Sir, is:
are you feeling it yet?
JOHN MICHAEL MCGRATH:
(Chuckling) I am tanned, rested,
relaxed after a long summer.
I think I'm in the zone.
STEVE:
In the zone, great!
Like Michael Jordan
in the fourth quarter,
like Justin Williams
in game seven.
(Crickets chirping)
You have no idea
what I just said, do you?
JOHN MICHAEL:
Not a clue.
STEVE:
No, come on. You know
who Michael Jordan is.
JOHN MICHAEL:
I know who Michael Jordan is.
STEVE:
Justin Williams?
JOHN MICHAEL:
Nope.
STEVE:
Really?
JOHN MICHAEL:
Nope, sorry.
STEVE:
Justin Williams, Mr. game seven!
JOHN MICHAEL:
(Stammering) I believe you.
(Both laughing)
STEVE:
I do wonder about you, you know.
Like you're--
you're a smart guy,
you like reading the
Planning Act, but you have no--
you have no interest in sports
at all, do you?
JOHN MICHAEL:
Very little. You know,
I like baseball occasionally.
You know. Um--
STEVE:
You should like baseball.
Baseball's
a thinking person's game.
Really, like tons of statistics
and strategy
and no two games are ever the
same and you should love that.
Anyways! John Michael, let's
hear from our listeners now.
We have asked for listener
questions and comments
over the summer
and we have received.
So, let us go through a few.
Up first, David Renegar writes:
"A Liberal minority government
might be a good outcome
"from the October 21st election.
"What are the various scenarios
where this could come to pass?
"What are the odds
that it might actually happen?
You wanna chime in on that?
JOHN MICHAEL MCGRATH:
Well I think neither you nor I
wants to give a hostage
to fortune
and make an actual prediction
here.
At the moment, actually, neither
the Liberals or Conservatives
are at the level in the polls
that you would think would lead
to a majority government.
So,
if the election were held today,
which it is not going to be,
uh, there would actually be
really good odds
of a Liberal minority.
There's a possibility
that on October 21st,
the Liberals could get fewer
votes than the Conservatives,
nation-wide, and still end up
with more seats,
just because
that's how our system works.
STEVE:
You know, there once was another
prime minister named Trudeau--
(John Michael laughing)
--uh, who actually
got more votes
than the 39-year-old leader
of the Progressive Conservative
party of the day,
whose name was Joe Clark--
This was in 1979--
and yet Clark won the election.
Mr. Trudeau, Pierre,
got more votes
and Mr. Clark got more seats.
And he had
the minority government.
So, yeah, we have a-- I--
I know people like to pick on
the United States
that the Electoral College
produces a result
whereby Trump can get three
million fewer votes than Clinton
and yet Trump wins,
Bush can get fewer votes
than Gore and yet Bush wins,
but it is not unknown
in Canadian history
for the same thing
to happen here,
the same phenomenon,
where the party
that gets more votes
doesn't necessarily
get more seats,
and this is one
of the unusual anomalies
of our political system.
JOHN MICHAEL:
Okay, let's do another one.
Josh Wise asked us a number
of questions about polling.
The first:
"Are any of them
actually effective
"at providing an indication of
how an election will turn out?"
And second: "How much does
polling influence voters?"
STEVE:
Well, the answers are "No",
and "I don't know".
(John Michael laughing)
Uh, you know, polls are actually
scientifically pretty good
and pretty accurate
at telling you what people
thought yesterday.
They are absolutely
no indication
and cannot predict
how things will turn out.
They're not supposed to.
And I frequently
hear from people, you know,
"Ah, the polls are all wrong.
They didn't see this coming."
Polls don't forecast.
Polls tell you
what people thought
when the surveyors
were in the field
a week or two or three ago
or even last night
if they can turn them around
that quickly.
So, we have to stop
looking at polls
and presuming that they have
some predictive value,
because they just don't.
JOHN MICHAEL:
It can be especially risky
when you have--
for example, you know,
the two biggest cases cited as
poll failure in the last decade,
right, Donald Trump's election
and the victory
of the pro-Brexit side
in the British referendum.
Well, this is an incredibly
tightly-fought election
where the margin of victory
was smaller
than the margin of error
in any poll, right?
And it's just--
(Stammering)
Even the best poll, you know,
conducted by the best pollster
is still not gonna be able
to capture
a 51/49 split perfectly.
STEVE:
Yeah, 'cause there's probably,
you know, two, three,
four percent margin of error
in all these polls. Yeah.
I do remember
from the US election,
the last
US presidential election,
that, uh-- I don't know,
was it the
New York Times
that-- that clock that showed--
JOHN MICHAEL:
The needle.
STEVE:
The needle, right.
"Hillary Clinton has an 80%
chance of winning this election,
"Donald Trump has a 20% chance
of winning this election."
And everybody assumed
that that meant
that Clinton was gonna win,
and that's not what it meant.
What it meant was, based on all
the public opinion we have seen,
if we run this election
100 times,
Clinton will win it 80 times.
But Trump will run it
and win it 20 times.
And the fact of the matter is,
the election last--
you know, in November of 2016--
was one of those 20 times.
And so,
I know people are fond of saying
that the polls were inaccurate
or the polls got it wrong
or they missed this
or they missed that.
The fact of the matter
is there's only so much
they can do, and predicting
outcomes is not one of them.
Now, Josh's second question
about how much does polling
influence voters,
that one is a really hard one
to answer
because there's so many
theories on this.
One is that, um, people like
to be with a winner,
and if the party in first place
looks like it's within
a hair's breadth
of getting a majority
government,
that might influence
enough people
who make their decisions at
the last moment to go for them.
On the other hand,
we've also seen circumstances
where there was a party
that was close to winning
and many members of the public
were clearly worried about that
and as a result
went the other way.
And, uh, you know, we have seen,
for example, when--
when Liberals
make the argument that,
"if you don't vote for us
instead of the NDP,
"'cause we Liberals are
the only ones who have a shot
"at stopping the Tories",
that strategy often works
and New Democrats get crushed
under those kinds
of circumstance.
And I bet we can look forward
to hearing the Liberal party
use that argument this time.
We're already hearing it.
There's only two people,
they say,
who have a chance to become
the next prime minister-
Justin Trudeau or Andrew Scheer.
And they will tell people
who are progressive voters,
"Don't waste your time
on the NDP."
You know,
"The Liberals are the only ones
"who can stop the Tories."
So, does it work that way?
I don't know.
JOHN MICHAEL:
The other thing that I always
find so, uh, amusing,
a poll will come out where--
that has a political party
in a, you know, a trailing
position that they don't like
and they will yell
about how it's, you know,
it's a bad poll,
it's an outlier,
the media's only
covering this poll
'cause they're biased against us
and the next week, a different
poll will show them ahead
and, you know,
gaining momentum and all that
and suddenly they can't stop
talking about that poll.
(Laughing)
And it's just like clockwork,
every single election cycle
there is somebody who does that
and I just-- it makes me laugh.
(Chuckling)
STEVE:
I think the best line--
There's two good lines
about polling in my view.
John Diefenbaker,
who was prime minister
in the late 1950s, early 1960s,
used to say,
"Poll are for dogs."
And there's a lot of truth
in that.
And John Turner, who was prime
minister in 1984, used to say,
"I never comment on polls-
good, bad, or indifferent."
And I'd love to hear
more politicians
saying that nowadays.
It's often lazy reporting--
because polls are so easy
to report on--
it's lazy reporting
that allows way too many of us
to focus far too much on
what the polls are saying today
rather than on issues
that the electorate
might be interested in.
And um, I think the ghost of
Mr. Turner should revisit itself
upon all of the leaders
in this campaign
and I'd love to hear
the leaders say,
"I don't comment on polls
good, bad, or indifferent."
JOHN MICHAEL:
At the risk of undermining
everything that you just said,
I will just add that, you know,
for TVO I mostly
don't write about polls
and you occasionally
will write something
about a particularly interesting
poll or pollster
but um, about the only thing
that I do like to do
is look at, you know,
like a month's long trend.
That, I think, is where you can
start to see important value.
And one of the things I noted
when I did go
looking at the polls
before we started recording-
um, in about April this year,
the Tories under Andrew Scheer
had, uh--
they got to that 40% threshold
that I was mentioning earlier
in one or two polls
and then they just
started sliding.
They haven't
been back there since.
And the other thing that
happened in April of this year
was the Progressive Conservative
budget here in Ontario
that caused a lot of problems
for Doug Ford's government
and we've already talked already
about some of the, um,
the linkages between the Ontario
Tories and the federal Tories
that people are seeing
or are trying to see.
And um, that would be a data
point that I would point to
people that, you know,
provincial politics in Ontario
are affecting the federal race
for Andrew Scheer
and the Conservatives.
STEVE:
Well, there is this--
at the risk of overruling what
we said earlier about polling--
I do wanna drop one poll here.
It's not about party standings.
It's an Abacus Data poll
talking about what people think
on climate change
and apparently
a whopping 82% of respondents
said that climate change
is a serious problem.
So that is a high level
of recognition, 82%.
72% supported the idea
of a green new deal
that would tackle climate change
and restructure the economy
to support those affected.
That is essentially
what Stéphane Dion,
the former Liberal leader,
ran on in the 2008
federal election,
and led the Liberals
at that time
to their worst showing ever.
Only to be, uh, improved upon or
worsened upon three years later,
depending on
how you wanna put it.
But yeah, the green new deal
or "green shift"
is what he ran on then.
We clearly appeared not to be
interested in it 11 years ago.
Maybe more so today.
JOHN MICHAEL:
Well, I mean, one thing that I
think is an important difference
between then and now-
2008 we were heading into
a recession, though I don't--
in early 2008 we didn't know
how bad it was gonna get.
Um, and the environment
is one of these issues that,
you know, I think a lot
of pollsters will say
people care about intensely
when the economy is good,
and it gets to the backseat when
people are worried about jobs
or worried about, uh,
other economic issues.
At the moment, the Canadian
economy is, you know,
humming along relatively well
in sort of the headline figures.
Doug Ford and Andrew Scheer are
both sceptical of carbon pricing
as a tool to solve
climate change,
but they have both publicly made
the effort to propose a plan.
Obviously,
both have been subjected
to substantial criticism.
But you know, it looks like you
can't really run an election
in the late 2010s without, uh,
at least having something
to give voters
to read about climate change.
STEVE:
In Canada.
JOHN MICHAEL:
In Canada.
STEVE:
You sure can in other places
but not in Canada.
Thank you, everybody,
for writing in.
Keep 'em coming.
John Michael, what have you got
on tap for us today now?
JOHN MICHAEL:
I come bearing gifts, Steve.
An explainer on this little
thing called carbon pricing.
(Music playing)
To understand the debate
around carbon pricing today,
I looked back on how we got here
in the first place.
The story of carbon pricing
in Canada over the last decade
is, well, an interesting one.
For a while,
support seemed to be growing
into a bipartisan consensus.
I'll take us from the past
where there was growing support
for carbon pricing
to its acrimonious present
leading into this election.
Along the way, we'll look at
Ontario's battle with the feds
over the carbon tax,
and what the federal parties
have on offer in this election.
Let's get to it!
JUSTIN TRUDEAU:
Andrew Scheer said he'd "soon"
release his plan
to protect the environment.
(Scoffing)
We're still waiting.
The Conservatives think
that photo ops at gas stations
are all they need.
(Audience chuckling)
They've said that the first
thing they'll do if elected
is to make pollution free again.
(Music playing)
ANDREW SCHEER:
Canadians trusted Justin Trudeau
when he said he would
protect the environment
and lower Canada's emissions.
Instead, all he got
was a carbon tax.
(Music playing)
JAGMEET SINGH:
While Liberals and Conservatives
use the issue
to beat each other up,
a closer look shows
they actually have
the same emission targets,
the same love of pipelines,
and both will exempt the biggest
polluters from paying a price.
(Music playing)
ELIZABETH MAY:
Climate change is not--
I wanna repeat that--
not an environmental issue.
And it needs to be dealt with
by government at all levels
as a security threat that
requires taking bold action.
It's best done,
if we can possibly do it,
in a non-partisan way.
(Music playing)
JOHN MICHAEL:
The federal election is going
to involve a lot of arguments,
but there's one thing that
already has a starring role-
the federal carbon tax.
Here's prime minister Justin
Trudeau in April this year,
speaking to the Liberal caucus.
(Applause)
JUSTIN TRUDEAU:
The next election
is around the corner
and the stakes are high.
This fall, Canadians
are facing a clear choice.
Our opponents want
to take us backwards.
For proof,
look no further than their lack
of a climate change plan.
JOHN MICHAEL:
Conservative party leader
Andrew Scheer did announce
a climate change plan not too
long after Trudeau said that,
and he's promised
to repeal the carbon tax
if the Tories are elected
in October.
ANDREW SCHEER:
The carbon tax isn't simply
another Liberal tax grab.
It is so much more than that.
It represents
a betrayal of trust.
A classic
Liberal bait and switch,
promising Canadians a plan
to lower emissions
and protect the environment
and instead delivering
nothing but a tax
to punish taxpayers
and pad government revenues.
JOHN MICHAEL:
Now, the Liberals,
NDP, and Green Party
all support either
the current federal carbon tax
or something like it.
It's one of the more fundamental
divides in the election.
But before we get there,
what exactly is carbon pricing?
Stick with me for a minute.
We'll get through
a bit of a lesson here.
Everyone talks
about carbon pricing
but do you actually know
how it works?
You've probably heard
about a carbon tax
and if you live in Ontario,
you probably heard
about cap and trade.
But the idea of putting a price
on pollution is pretty simple.
For anything,
as it gets more expensive,
we usually use less of it.
If the government
makes pizza more expensive,
most people
would eat less of it.
Not me.
So, a carbon tax
is pretty straightforward.
The government
imposes a set tax
on every tonne of CO2
that's emitted.
As the tax increases,
CO2 gets more and more expensive
and people pollute less.
Cap and trade is different.
Here's Tom Rand,
Managing Partner of cleantech
investor ArcTern Ventures,
explaining it last year
on
The Agenda.
TOM RAND:
Well, you put a cap
on the amount of emissions
that are allowed,
and you charge people, you pay--
polluters have to pay
to go over that cap.
And you reduce the cap
over time.
So you essentially limit
emissions and force them down
by making polluters pay
who go above that cap.
JOHN MICHAEL:
The government sets
a total cap on pollution,
and requires businesses
to purchase the right to pollute
at auction.
Cap and trade or a carbon tax,
either way, you're talking
about carbon pricing.
Okay,
thanks for bearing with me.
Class dismissed.
(School bell rings)
So now you're all caught up
on why everyone
is yelling at each other.
But before we get to the current
debate about carbon pricing,
we need to understand how we
got here in the first place.
We need to revisit some history,
because carbon pricing
has had a heck of a ride
in the last decade
of Canadian politics,
and the Conservatives
weren't always so hostile to it.
STEPHEN HARPER:
We cannot afford to have
the world divided on this issue,
to pit Right against Left,
Europe against America,
or the developed countries
against the developing world.
We need a plan
that takes into account
both different starting points
and different
national circumstances,
but that moves us all
towards a common destination.
JOHN MICHAEL:
That's then Prime Minister
Stephen Harper in 2007,
talking about efforts
to try and build
an international consensus
on climate policy.
By 2008, Harper was proposing
a cap and trade system
in that year's election.
Harper's main opponent,
Liberal Stéphane Dion,
was proposing a so-called
"green shift",
where a carbon tax would be
offset by tax cuts elsewhere.
Harper and the Conservatives
won that election,
so that meant it was
cap and trade time, right?
Uh, not so much.
The Conservatives didn't enact
the kind of cap and trade system
their 2008 platform called for
after that election.
And they didn't do it after 2011
when they won
a majority government.
But Conservatives
outside of government
surprisingly became some of
the more prominent voices
for carbon pricing
in national politics.
In 2014, Preston Manning
made national news
by urging his fellow
Conservatives
to embrace carbon pricing.
PRESTON MANNING:
I use this argument
that conservation,
"conservative",
come from the same root,
that living within your means,
which is the heart
of fiscal conservatism,
is actually
an ecological principle.
We have to live within our means
ecologically,
so it's no big jump.
And the Conservatives profess
to believe in markets,
and therefore ought to prefer
market-based approaches
to dealing with pollution
to massive
government intervention.
JOHN MICHAEL:
In 2015, Patrick Brown won
the Ontario PC leadership.
And a year later in 2016,
he pledged to implement a
carbon tax if he became premier.
PATRICK BROWN:
We're gonna preserve
our province's natural beauty
and protect our environment
for future generations.
This platform recognizes
that climate change is real,
it must be taken seriously,
but the platform
does not use climate change
as an excuse
for a government cash grab.
(Audience cheering)
JOHN MICHAEL:
Of course, Brown brought
a conservative approach
to carbon pricing,
but nevertheless,
some Conservatives
were making peace with it.
And support
seemed to be growing.
As 2018 began,
most Canadians were living
with a carbon price
in their provinces.
Was consensus
on carbon pricing building?
Chris Ragan from the Ecofiscal
Commission certainly thought so.
He was on
The Agenda
with Steve Paikin
last year,
explaining why he
and most economists
support putting a cost
on pollution.
CHRIS RAGAN:
Well, I think up until
about the middle of 2018,
I think we could say that
the consensus was building.
Uh, we had a cap and trade
system introduced,
a pretty well-designed one
in Ontario from Kathleen Wynne.
We had, uh, a very well-designed
carbon tax with rebates
and competitiveness protection
introduced in Alberta.
We had-- Manitoba that had
designed a climate policy
with carbon pricing
at its core,
and that was last year,
I suppose.
And then we had a federal
government that said,
"All right, we're gonna now
fill in the gaps,
"and for any province or
territory that doesn't have one,
"we will put one in place
"but we would actually prefer
you to design your own."
JOHN MICHAEL:
He's referring
to the federal law
the Liberals passed in 2018.
Any province
that doesn't have
its own system
for carbon pricing
can either choose
to accept the federal tax
or have one imposed on them.
But Reagan's point
is that an optimist
could have you looked at things
in January of 2018
and thought that Canada was
shortly going to join the list
of countries where
carbon taxes are just accepted
as one more tool
that governments use
to fight pollution.
That optimist
would have been wrong.
Even when things were going well
for carbon pricing,
there were dissenters.
The Government of Saskatchewan,
for one,
has opposed a federal carbon tax
from the beginning.
And within
the Ontario PC party,
there were activists
like Jim Karahalios,
who agitated to reverse
the party's direction
on carbon pricing.
Here's Karahalios from 2018,
talking with Steve.
JIM KARAHALIOS:
And I call it a racket,
because government
has been covering up
at the federal level and
some Manchurian Conservatives,
as I like to call them,
have been covering up what
the costs of cap and trade
and a carbon tax
will cost the individual
and have been not
been forthright
about how high that cost
is gonna go
and if it's actually
gonna solve the problem.
In BC,
emissions have not gone down.
They have not met their targets,
and they've had a carbon tax
for a very long time.
So it's not putting money
in everyone's pocket.
Sure, it gives the government
the opportunity
to pick winners and losers,
if you implement
a $2 billion tax in Ontario,
but it's not solving
the problem.
JOHN MICHAEL:
But, as long as Brown was
in charge of the PC party,
firebrands like Karahalios were
just shouting into the wind.
Then, this happened.
PATRICK BROWN:
A couple hours ago I learned
about troubling allegations
about my conduct and character.
And I'm here tonight
to address them.
First, I wanna say
these allegations are false.
Categorically untrue,
every one of them.
I will defend myself
as hard as I can
with all means at my disposal.
It's never okay--
it's never okay for anyone
to feel they've been a victim
of sexual harassment
or feel threatened in any way.
Let me make this clear.
JOHN MICHAEL:
Brown would later resign
and never get to turn
his climate plan into action.
He left provincial politics
under a cloud
and is now the mayor
of Brampton.
If I had to choose
a turning point for the story,
it would be
the moment Brown resigned.
Because the #onpoli crowd
knows what happened next.
Doug Ford replaced him
as PC party leader,
and he has a very different
attitude towards the tax.
DOUG FORD:
Make no mistake-
if Justin Trudeau
gets his way,
we will all be paying
higher gas prices,
higher home heating costs,
higher everything.
'Cause we all know
that the price on carbon
drives up the price
on every single good and service
to Ontario families
and Ontario businesses.
Because everything is made
of carbon one way or another.
JOHN MICHAEL:
Ford wasn't the first
provincial premier
to oppose
the Federal carbon tax,
but after his election,
Conservative opposition
to carbon pricing
became nearly unanimous
across the country.
Ford, like Saskatchewan premier
Scott Moe,
has launched
a constitutional challenge
of the federal carbon tax law.
Ontario is fighting the feds
in court.
When will
the Supreme Court of Canada
hear both Saskatchewan
and Ontario's
constitutional challenges?
It's currently scheduled
for early next year,
but that could change.
Yes, this is the part of
the episode where John Michael
takes you into the complicated
minutia of this case.
Strap in, I promise this is
gonna be worth your time.
(Theme music playing)
First off,
the issues before the court
are more interesting
than a simple argument
about whether the carbon tax
is a good idea or not.
Instead, the dissident provinces
and Federal Government
are arguing about the
fundamental division of powers
in our federal structure.
How much power
do we want to give Ottawa
to solve environmental issues
like climate change,
and how do we protect
the powers
that are supposed to be
exclusive to the provinces?
Why does this matter?
This is the question
we're dealing with-
just who has control over what
Canada does on climate change.
This is big, and like any issue
that wasn't spelled out
in black and white in 1867,
it's grey.
this is what the province's
lawyers were saying in court.
Climate change is a big problem.
It can touch everything
from the food we eat
to the cities we build,
whether we build highways
or public transit.
If we give Ottawa
all the power it wants
to address climate change,
the Feds could dictate things
to the provinces.
Here's lawyer Lisa DeMarco,
who represented
the International Emissions
Trading Association
in both Saskatchewan
and Ontario.
LISA DEMARCO:
Ontario argued very specifically
that the subject matter
regulating all greenhouse gases
was so broad it would allow the
federal government to come in
and regulate your fireplace.
Canada argued that the matter
was cumulative
greenhouse gas emissions
and that the provinces
were incapable of regulating it
and their legislation
was justified
under the federal government's
peace order
and good government power,
which, in legal speak,
we call the "POG power".
JOHN MICHAEL:
Spoiler alert-
twice now, the courts have sided
with the federal government
instead of the provinces.
Alberta also has
a challenge underway
way that hasn't been heard
in court yet.
And while this is the argument
we're having today, now,
in an election,
some context is important.
Ottawa and the provinces
have always argued
over who gets what powers
and they probably always will.
LISA:
So in particular, the model
of cooperative federalism,
which is very powerful
and to date has really
served the country well...
..needs to have its existential
crises every once in a while.
And this is one of those.
We're testing the grounds
and the boundaries
of the airtight compartments
of exclusive provincial powers
and exclusive federal powers.
And you'll see
both of the courts
narrowed the subject matter
over which the federal
government has exclusive power.
So it's really just those
minimum national standards,
either for greenhouse gases
in the case Ontario,
or for pricing greenhouse gases
in the case of Saskatchewan.
And in that way
you can still respect
the federal-provincial
division of powers
that's set out
in the Constitution.
And both levels of government
can still act
in relation to regulating
greenhouse gases.
JOHN MICHAEL:
There's one other thing
with very loud arguments
over carbon pricing.
If you look closely, there's
actually a lot of agreement too.
DeMarco thinks that story
isn't being told properly.
LISA:
Yeah, I've been giving you all
a hard time
for the last little while.
(Chuckling)
I think the underlying story
that's been missed
has been that there's
an extraordinary amount
of consensus between
the provinces
and the federal government,
a level of consensus
that we really don't see
in any other federalist system,
particularly not in the US.
There's consensus between
the federal government
and the provinces
that climate change is real,
that climate change is man-made,
that it's urgent and that
there's a need for action.
There's also consensus
in each and every one of the
challenging provincial systems,
that carbon pricing
is one element
of an appropriate way to address
greenhouse gas emissions.
So Saskatchewan has its
emission performance standards
that impose a carbon price
if you're over them.
Alberta is proposing
its technology incentive
emission regulation,
or "TIER" system that has carbon
pricing on large emitters.
Ontario, after it scrapped
its cap and trade program,
has its emission
performance standards
and output-based
performance standards
that apply and implement
a charge on emissions
above a level.
So, there is carbon pricing
across the board in Canada.
How big the scope
of the carbon pricing is,
and when does it
start to apply?
There are slight differences
but there's an extraordinary
amount of consensus
that I think in particular
the media has need
to change into a good and bad
yes and no heuristic argument.
JOHN MICHAEL:
That's an important part
of the story,
and a reminder not to let
the shoutiest media coverage
determine your views
on important election issues
this fall.
So now you're up to speed
on the long, strange journey
of carbon pricing.
But we're not done yet.
This is like
Return of the King.
There's a lot more ending
to come.
The last thing to say
about carbon pricing is this:
You might not like
paying four cents more
per litre of gasoline,
and that's understandable.
But there's no future
where we aren't paying more
because quite a change.
Here's Craig Stewart of the
insurance Bureau of Canada.
CRAIG STEWART:
The insurance industry
has been out--
been very outspoken
over the last few years
to talk about
how this is costing our industry
but also is costing Canadians
in general.
So, in the 1990s,
you know,
our aggregated claims in Canada
per year were about 400 million.
Now we're paying over $1 billion
each and every year
in claims
related to climate damages.
Last year,
the number was over $2 billion.
So, of course,
Canadians are paying
in terms of insurance premiums
but beyond that, you know,
Canadians are also paying
through their tax dollars.
You know, municipalities
are paying out millions
if not billions of dollars to
A) recover from damages from
these storms that we're seeing,
and Ontarians are
very familiar with this,
and B) paying to upgrade
infrastructure
to prepare for future events.
This is costing you,
as a taxpayer, money now.
JOHN MICHAEL:
Insurers are the people
writing cheques
every time someone's house
is ruined in a flood
or burned down in a fire.
And those cheques
keep getting larger.
That means insurance gets
more expensive for everybody.
CRAIG:
Insurers have been out there
globally since the 1980s,
ringing the alarm bell,
saying,
"Look,
we're seeing a trend here,
"we're seeing this
in our numbers.
"We need to collectively
start paying attention to this."
And unfortunately,
we did not take the action
that we should have
been taking in the 1990s.
We didn't take it in the 2000s,
and now here we are.
Finally, though, people are
seeing the evidence, you know.
Unfortunately,
we're all learning the hard way,
which is the way
we typically learn.
Um, and-- and--
and it's impacting us.
It is impacting us
through flooding events.
It seems each and every year
increased ice storms.
And if you live
in Western Canada,
you've seen the evidence
with wildfires.
You know,
it's on our news channel
uh, monthly, if not weekly.
And so, maybe that's what
it takes for us to finally act.
Unfortunately, yes,
we're overdue.
JOHN MICHAEL:
Graydon Smith is the mayor
of Bracebridge, Ontario,
and he's seen first-hand
what those impacts are.
GRAYDON SMITH:
2019 was a pretty
dramatic spring.
Um, very reminiscent of 2013
when we had severe flooding,
only this exceeded that
by quite some margin,
both in terms of volume of water
and duration.
And so,
for a number of residents,
specifically in rural areas in
our town, it was quite a time.
JOHN MICHAEL:
Do you have a sense yet
of what the dollar value
of the damages is?
GRAYDON SMITH:
I don't really,
because it's hard
to count up.
Some residences are seasonal,
some are permanent.
Some don't really report
into us in any way,
but it's definitely
in the millions of dollars,
on personal property--
um, from the personal property
perspective.
And from a municipal
perspective, you know,
we're in the hundreds
of thousands of dollars,
where in 2013
we were in the millions.
But we did a lot of mitigation
between then and now,
so that helped.
JOHN MICHAEL:
Smith says he's not interested
in arguing
how to fight climate change,
but he wants governments
to take the problem seriously.
SMITH:
Of course
it's impossible to say,
but certainly we've seen
two events in six years
that are very atypical
of what we would typically see.
You'll hear them described
as "hundred year events"
or maybe something
that exceeds that.
Uh, in between,
we've had what I would refer to
as a couple of near misses
where we've had
spring freshets
that were definitely
more intense than normal.
So, um, with the types
of winters we've been having,
which have been somewhat erratic
and unpredictable,
I think it does speak
to a level of climate change
that's occurring, whether
it's not a lot of precipitation
or a year like this year
where we had an exceptional
amount of precipitation.
And the longer that holds on
into the spring,
because you might have
atypical temperatures,
cold temperatures
carrying on into the spring,
then it suddenly gets warm,
it rains,
and then everything
lets go at once.
JOHN MICHAEL:
Of course, all the parties
in this election
have climate change plans.
But one of them
is not like the others.
Here's Conservative leader
Andrew Scheer
announcing his party's
climate change plan in June.
ANDREW SCHEER:
Canadians trusted Justin Trudeau
when he said he would
protect the environment
and lower Canada's emissions.
Instead,
all he got was a carbon tax.
The carbon tax isn't simply
another Liberal tax grab.
It is so much more than that.
It represents
a betrayal of trust.
A classic
Liberal bait and switch.
Promising Canadians
a plan to lower emissions
and protect the environment,
and instead,
delivering nothing but a tax
to punish taxpayers
and pad government revenues.
JOHN MICHAEL:
As far as the biggest parties
are concerned,
the Tories are kind of
on their own this year.
They're the only party
without a carbon price
in their climate plan.
The NDP under Jagmeet Singh have
proposed a so-called "new deal"
that would invest
in climate policies
while protecting
and expanding good jobs.
The Green Party
wants to halt the growth
of oil sands production
in Alberta.
And the Liberals, of course,
will defend the carbon tax
they've made the law in Canada.
But as we've already seen,
you're going to pay
one way or another.
We'll either pay at the pumps
with a carbon tax
or we'll pay more in insurance
premiums and property taxes
as our cities and towns try
to keep up with freak weather.
What happens next
is up to voters on October 21st.
(Theme music playing)
STEVE:
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Tell us what you thought
of the program you just heard.
Email us at
onpolitics@TVO.org,
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I'm at @spaikin.
S-P-A-I-K-I-N.
JOHN MICHAEL:
And I'm @JM_McGrath.
STEVE:
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And share it with your friends.
JOHN MICHAEL:
Today's episode
was produced by me.
(Steve chuckling)
The series producer
is Eric Bombicino.
STEVE:
Audio and editing
by Matthew O'Mara.
The rest of the team includes
Daniel Kitts, Harrison Lowman,
Cara Stern,
and Katie O'Connor.
JOHN MICHAEL:
Hannah Sung is the manager
of digital video and podcasts
here at TVO.
STEVE:
And thanks for listing,
everybody!
(Theme music playing)

Watch: The Long, Strange Journey of Carbon Pricing in Canada