From his Bully Pulpit, Ford orders Gas Retailers to Affix this Propaganda to Gas Pumps – Just in Time to help get his Tory pal Andrew Scheer elected Prime Minister
A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted September 3rd, 2019 on Niagara At Large
How sad it was to go to a gas bar at a Canadian Tire outlet in Niagara this Labour Day weekend and see Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s propaganda sticker, decrying a price the federal government is placing on carbon pollution, displayed on all of the pumps.
This sticker, for anyone who has not yet seen it, claims that the current federal Liberal government’s move to place a price on carbon pollution – a cost that Ford and his Tory allies across the country, including federal Tory leader Andrew Scheer, choose to demonize as a “carbon tax” – is now costing Ontarians4.4 cents for every litre of gas they purchase at the pump, and will cost 11 cents for every litre if it is still in place three years from now.
You can take a look at the English-language version (and yes, there is a French-language version too) of content on this sticker, all featured on a background of Tory blue, just in time for a federal election in which Scheer is sure to bring this issue up, right here, alongside this paragraph, where you can also note something else.
This the sticker says absolutely nothing about the fact that most Canadians will be eligible for a tax rebate or refund each year that runs in to the hundreds of dollars and may, for many of us who are not huge carbon emitters, more than make-up for any “carbon tax” we pay at the pump.
After all, the whole idea behind this “carbon tax” Ford and company claim to hate so much is to use financial costs as one way – and not the only way, by any means – of shifting slowly but surely away from an economy that involves pumping so much climate-changing carbon into the earth’s atmosphere.
As Ford and his partisan allies and supporters don’t appear to want to tell us – and there is certainly no hint of it on this sticker – there are enormous costs involved in using the earth’s atmosphere as a garbage dump for our pollution too. Just add up the billions of dollars in damage and destruction from ever more frequent and severe assaults on people and property from record floods, wildfires, droughts, winds and on and on.
That is why the Green Party of Ontario recently produced an alternative sticker to Ford’s, which sure won’t be affixed to any gas pumps in the province, just so long as Ford and company remain in government. Here it is below (the Green Party sticker to the left), alongside Ford’s sticker, for your consideration.
And finally, here is another example of a sticker that this reporter would argue is far more honest than what Ford is pushing on us.
It is a sticker that resembles something that the Canadian Independent Marketers Association, a group representing gas station retailers in Ontario, recently suggested to the Ford government and one that was summarily rejected. And the rejection came as no surprise for the following reason.
That sticker would have also told Ontarians pulling up to the pump how much per liter they are paying in provincial taxes which, by the way, is at least five times more than they are paying per litre for the price feds have slapped on for carbon.
To the right, is an image of the amounts added to a litre of gas for other provincial and federal taxes. And we might suggest to Ford and his government that if they are really sincere about wanting to make life more affordable for “the little guy,” to use one of Ford’s ways of describing people working to get by on lower incomes – if they really want to put more money back in that same little guy’s pocket, then slash the provincial tax on a litre of gasoline.
I’m not in favour of it because at least part of it is supposed to go to support municipal transit systems and to keep our roads and highways in good repair, and it also keeps the price of gasoline up there and possibly high enough to convince at least some people to drive smaller, more fuel-efficient cars or use some alternative form of transportation.
But hey, Mr. Premier, if you want to make life more affordable for people in the middle or lower income brackets, you could start by getting rid of regressive sales taxes like this – taxes that hit lower income people the hardest – and make up the difference by increasing income taxes. But Tories like Ford aren’t going to do that because it means more of a hit on their higher income friends.
Before I finish this little “carbon tax” sticker rant, just two more quick things.
First, how said it is that a bunch of big private corporations – in this case gas retailers – aren’t taking more of a stand against a government ordering them to stick propaganda on their private property under a threat of being fined if they don’t. Surely they have enough money to hire some of the best lawyers and the country to fight such a ‘Big Brother’ edict in the courts.
I can’t help but believe that if an environmental group like Greenpeace attempted to put a sticker on gas pumps in protest of carbon pollution, these same corporations would waste no time calling the police if the group didn’t peel the stickers off.
Second, where is Elections Canada when it comes to these Ford stickers that, in so many eyes, are so blatantly partisan in front of a federal election this October where climate change and putting a price on carbon emissions is already promising to be a major issue?
We have learned that third-party groups, including not-for-profit citizens group advocating for the environment, may be subject to at least some restrictions under the federal Elections Act if they engage in any kind of advertising of an issue that is relevant to an election in progress.
In a recent “statement of clarification,” Elections Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer Stephane Perrault said in part – “The (federal Elections) Act does not prevent individuals or groups from talking about issues or publishing information. However, if they spend $500 or more on certain activities, they will need to register with Elections Canada as third parties and be subject to a spending limit of $511,700 during the election period.
“The only instance in which the Act covers the promotion of an issue, without mentioning a candidate or party,” added Perrault, “is when someone spends money on issue advertising during the election period.”
This reporter recently called Elections Canada and I was told by a representative on the other end of the phone that if I had a complaint about these stickers, I should take my complaint to the provincial government.
The gist of the message I was getting from Elections Canada is that these stickers, paid for with our tax money and so obviously speaking to an issue of high interest in this fall’s federal election, apparently does not fall under the jurisdiction of Canada’s Elections Act.
In other words, apparently it is okay for a provincial government in this country to spend our tax money on posting messages that might help their partisan friends in a federal election campaign.
But if a citizen’s group does it, all of a sudden Elections Canada officers are interested and on their tail. How right and fair is that?
As Bruce Cockburn wrote in a song about how rigged the system often is against the so-called little guy, “they call it democracy.”
To read some related stories on this gas pump sticker issue, click on the following links –
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