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Future carbon taxes in Ontario would face referendum, government announces


Future provincial governments will need to hold a referendum before introducing a carbon tax, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Tuesday.

Ford said if passed, the new legislation would give voters a “direct say” over any new provincial carbon tax, cap-and-trade system or other carbon pricing program.

“This new law will guarantee that no provincial government can force a costly carbon tax on the people of Ontario without ensuring their voices are heard loud and clear,” Ford said of the Get It Done Act, which will be tabled in the spring session of the legislature later this month.

Separately, Canada has had a national price on pollution since 2019 and requires provinces and territories to either establish a levy on greenhouse gas emissions or adopt the federal system.

Ford has been long opposed to that tax, going as far as requiring gas stations to display anti-carbon tax stickers on pumps in 2019, before a Superior Court judge said the requirement was unconstitutional a year later.

Currently, the federal carbon tax on gasoline is 14.31 cents per litre and is expected to increase to 37.43 cents per litre in 2030, the province said.

“You’re being gouged by the carbon tax, it’s as simple as that. It’s the worst tax ever,” Ford said.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford makes an announcement and answers questions at a press conference in Mississauga, Ont., Tuesday, February 13, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

Since the federal carbon tax has been in effect, Ottawa has issued rebates to Canadians where the levy is applied through direct deposits and cheques.

Last year, the Ontario government announced an extension of its gas and fuel tax rate cuts until June 30, 2024 to combat the price at the pumps. Ford said at the time that the cut has saved households $260 on average since it was first introduced in 2022.

Ford calls Bonnie Crombie 'queen of the carbon tax'

At the event in Mississauga, Ford took aim at the city’s former mayor and current Ontario Liberal Leader Bonnie Crombie, calling her the “queen of the carbon tax.”

She was up there cheering the carbon tax,” Ford said of Crombie’s time as a Liberal MP from 2008 to 2011, adding that she raised taxes “every single year” that she was mayor of Mississauga.

A recent poll suggests that if a provincial election were held today, Ford’s Progressive Conservatives would be only eight points (34 per cent) ahead of Crombie’s Liberals (26 per cent).

The NDP would garner only 18 per cent of the vote, according to the same poll.

The PCs have spent little time going after NDP and Opposition Leader Marit Stiles, but released attack ads against Crombie in the final months of 2023. 

In a statement issued following Ford’s announcement, Crombie referred to Ford as “desperate Doug” and said he had “abandoned Ontario.”

“Desperate Doug is yet again trying to distract Ontario citizens from his failures, flip flops and scandals,” she wrote.

"Let’s be clear: Doug Ford would sooner drag Ontario backwards just to enrich his well-connected insiders, than come up with a climate plan of his own.” Top Stories

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