With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberals securing a victory, albeit with a weakened mandate, Canada’s largest trucking organization is preparing to push an agenda that recognizes the reality of the carbon tax, but seeks to freeze it for diesel.
Preliminary results from the October 21 election show that nearly two-thirds of incoming members of Parliament will come from parties that support carbon taxes.
“One thing to keep in mind, especially with the minority government, is that four political parties have all supported carbon taxes. Only Conservatives opposed it,” said Stephen Laskowski, president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA).
“If they won’t repeal the carbon tax, we’re going to be calling for them to cap it at C$0.06 per liter,” Laskowski said.
The CTA is non-partisan, but it has publicly expressed the frustrations of many carriers in Canada regarding the tax, which went into effect in April in provinces without their own schemes. The taxes are set to increase by more than C$0.13 per liter by 2022.
The CTA and many carriers have criticized the government’s pricing scheme as unfairly punishing the industry when there is not a market-ready, zero-emissions alternative for diesel as far as long-haul trucking is concerned.
Laskowski said the CTA will continue pressing for the federal government to return all carbon tax revenues to the trucking industry. “That is the right thing to do so carriers can invest in greener equipment,” Laskowski said.
The election results also led one of Canada’s conservative provincial leaders to reconsider opposing the tax. Blaine Higgs, premier of New Brunswick, announced the shift after Conservatives won four of the province’s 10 seats.
“People voted for it, so we in New Brunswick have to find a way to make it work,” Higgs said, according to Global News.
Other conservative premiers including Ontario’s Doug Ford have had to address their province’s carbon-tax fights following the election.
The election showed that while voters may have tired on Trudeau and his Liberal Party, they backed parties that prioritize climate change.
The Conservative Party made scrapping the tax a central promise in its campaign. While it galvanized the base, it may have hurt the party, particularly in the absence of a well-articulated climate change plan, said David Coletto, CEO of polling firm Abacus Data.
“The emphasis on the carbon tax is highly polarizing,” said David Coletto, CEO of polling firm Abacus Data.
Coletto said, however, that Trudeau’s minority government would be “foolish and unwise” to abandon the interests of the voters in energy-rich Western Canada, who feel alienated by carbon pricing and other policies to fight climate change.
CTA sees room for engagement with the new government
Looking beyond the carbon tax, Laskowski said the CTA wants to have a strong relationship with Trudeau’s next government.
“The previous Liberal government was very receptive to working with us. We want to build upon that,” he said.
Transport Canada worked closely with the CTA on the country’s electronic logging device mandate and developing driver training standards.
Laskowski said the CTA will push for a federal crackdown on carriers operating on the Driver Inc. model, where employee-drivers are misclassified as independent contractors.
“Without question, it’s a big issue for our membership. We need strong commitments from the CRA [Canadian Revenue Agency] and the Ministry of Labor to enforce the law.”