Conservatives' Gas Price Claim Is 'Misleading Canadians': Climate Group

TORONTO — A new Conservative ad manipulates the numbers to make it look like Liberal environmental policies will cost Canadians more than they really will, one climate change group charged Thursday. 

The ad, posted online Tuesday, claims that “everything will cost more” if Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is re-elected Oct. 21.

It says the price of gas will rise 31 cents per litre if Trudeau wins a second term, citing the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Clean Energy Canada, a climate and clean energy group at Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue. 

The Conservatives attribute the price hike to two things: Canada’s carbon price and its clean fuel standard, a separate regulation meant to encourage the production of cleaner fuels.

The ad “misrepresents” Clean Energy Canada’s research and “risks misleading Canadians,” the organization’s policy director Dan Woynillowicz said in a press release.

“The clean fuel standard is one of the biggest pollution-cutting policies in Canada, and eliminating it—as the Conservatives have said they would do—will create a massive gap in Canada’s climate efforts.” 

While Clean Energy Canada found that the fuel standard would add 5 cents per litre to the price of gas by 2030, it also found that the government’s other policies would bring energy costs down by then. 

The average household would actually be “ahead to the tune of $17 a month,” Clean Energy Canada’s press release said. “For energy-conscious households, the savings are even bigger, with those households netting $82 in savings.”

In the ad, the Conservatives also say the carbon tax will make a litre of gas 22.5 cents more expensive. That number is based on a hypothetical situation, according to the party’s own backgrounder on the topic. 

Right now, the carbon tax is $20 for every tonne of carbon dioxide that gets released into the environment. Liberals plan to increase that cost to $50 per tonne by 2022. That’ll make the price of gas go up 4 cents a litre in 2020 and 11 cents a litre in 2022, according to the CRA

The tax would only make gas prices go up 22.5 cents per litre if it’s hiked to $102 per tonne, which Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has said is not going to happen

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Conservatives got that number from the independent parliamentary budget officer, who said the $102 per tonne price would be necessary if carbon pricing was the only mechanism Canada used to hit its emission reductions targets in the Paris Agreement. 

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At a Paris conference in 2016, 195 countries — including Canada — agreed to keep the temperature of the Earth from rising more than two degrees Celsius.

A rise of two degrees Celsius would reduce yields of vital crops, like corn and wheat, and would destroy plant and animal habitats. It would also lead to more flooding and droughts.

Canada is not on track to meets its Paris target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. 

Trudeau announced Tuesday that if his government is re-elected, it will aim to make the country carbon-neutral by 2050. That would mean any emissions Canadian citizens and companies emit would have to be offset by other measures, like planting trees.

The Liberal leader said that profits from the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, a project his government purchased, would help Canada achieve this goal. The extraction, processing and handling of additional bitumen carried by an expanded pipeline would emit another 13 million to 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent every year. 

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