A former Liberal MP said the federal government’s environmental program is built on an ideological bias that is “trying to dismantle” Canada’s economy, a House committee heard last week.
Dan McTeague, a former Liberal MP and president of the Canadians for Affordable Energy, told the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology on May 6 that the federal government’s green economy recovery plan is piling more debt on Canadians, aggravating the economy downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Governments are using, unfortunately, the excuse of COVID to spend even more, causing massive debt in our country,” McTeague said. “Any economic hit from the pandemic is, of course, to be expected. What is not expected is the piling on more debt and wasteful spending under the guise of a response, when in fact, spending, aimed at redesigning the economy, in the image of the government’s ideological bias.
McTeague identified four major “carbon taxes” set out in various federal programs that he says will endanger Canadians’ livelihoods and the country’s competitiveness. First is the federal carbon tax, now set to be raised to $170 per tonne by 2030, which will cost Canadian families thousands of dollars in additional annual spending. Second is the federal clean fuel standards, which amounts to a second carbon tax that will also drive up the energy price for consumers.
According to McTeague, the changes made to the National Building Codes, aimed at addressing climate change, will function as a third carbon tax, as the updates will likely make already expensive housing even more unaffordable.
“What if you can’t have an affordable furnace in your home? What if you’re required to meet a new building standard that dramatically raises the cost of basic energy services? This is what is, in fact, coming to us,” McTeague said.
The National Research Council (NRC) updates Canada’s construction codes every five years. The NRC will be setting new energy-efficiency requirements nationwide in the next National Building Code and the National Energy Code for Buildings, which can be expected in coming years.
Finally, McTeague noted that federal subsidies targeting green energy sectors such as electric bus and biofuel companies are also taking away “huge numbers of taxpayers hard-earned dollars.”
“These and other government actions are massive expenditures, that will not expedite recovery,” McTeague said. “Some government spending will provide temporary boost, but that will have the net effect of enriching a handful of those who have placed themselves strategically close to the government, and, of course, decision-makers.”
Shutting Down Line 5
In an article published on May 7, McTeague warned of the dire outcomes of the closure of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline, which Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, proposed to shut down on May 12.
According to McTeague, Line 5 channels roughly 540,000 barrels of oil and other fossil fuel each day from the U.S. state of Wisconsin to the refineries in Sarnia, Ontario. That fuel is used to power the planes in Toronto’s Pearson Airport, provide gasoline at stations across central Canada, and heat up homes for Canadians in Ontario and Quebec.
If Line 5 is shut down, roughly 4,900 jobs in Sarnia may be lost, he said.
“Our energy system is one of the most robust in the world. I think there is no debate on that. We are blessed with extraordinary fuels, technologies, and human knowhow. But we’re now under the spell of those who say it needs to change,” McTeague told the industry committee.