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IN THE LEDGE – Premier shrugs and does nothing about high gas prices

MLA Todd Stone in the Ledge. (Image: BC Hansard file photo)

Excerpt from a debate in the B.C. Legislature on Thursday, March 10, 2022 between Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone and Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Bruce Ralston.

T. Stone: I think it’s a well-established fact that British Columbia has the highest gas taxes and the highest gas prices in all of North America. As gas prices continue to skyrocket, the NDP government is raking in record fuel and carbon taxes without providing any relief for B.C.’s families. Despite years of empty promises, the Premier continues to shrug his shoulders and do nothing.

But there is one thing that the Premier could do. One step that he could take would be to return some of the millions of dollars in gas taxes that his government is receiving. He could return some of that to British Columbians through a one-time carbon tax rebate to help lower and middle income British Columbians. So the question to the Premier is this: will the Premier take this action to help families who are struggling with these skyrocketing gas prices?

Hon. B. Ralston: British Columbia is not alone in facing higher gas prices right across the country, from St. John’s to Winnipeg to Toronto and here in British Columbia, and indeed, around the world. The war has had a huge impact on world prices, and just yesterday, President Biden in the United States has decided to end imports of Russian oil and gas, which will have further upward pressure on prices around the world. The federal minister here in Canada, the Minister of Industry, has called upon the Competition Bureau to protect Canadians against possible gouging. And unlike the opposition, we believe gas companies should be accountable for markups and price hikes. We brought in the Fuel Price Transparency Act to force the companies to come clean.

Interjections.

Hon. B. Ralston: The members chuckle. It’s something that they certainly never did in their 16 years.

Interjections.

Hon. B. Ralston: Well, let’s just get to it.

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members.

Hon. B. Ralston: Their newly elected leader said in 2008: “I don’t want to pretend that there’s any magic solutions to the fact that fuel prices have doubled in the past 12 months.”

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members, order.

Hon. B. Ralston: He was asked about this question just yesterday, 14 years later — some time to reflect on what he might do, I suppose. His answer was: “Yes, this is what I said, and it’s true.” So you guys got nothing. You got nothing.

Mr. Speaker: Opposition House Leader, supplemental.

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members.

T. Stone: Look at the shiny object. I mean, get serious. Get serious. You know who’s not going to have much of anything left if this government doesn’t take action is British Columbians, who are dealing with these soaring gas prices, and the government is sitting around shrugging. You know, every time this government mentions Kevin Falcon, you know what goes through our minds? Call the by-election. Call the by-election so he can sit right here, and you can have the exchange with him in person. When Kevin Falcon was in government, he brought in the revenue-neutral carbon tax, which actually offset carbon tax. A revenue-neutral carbon tax — imagine that.

Mr. Speaker: Members.

T. Stone: Imagine that.

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members.

T. Stone: Imagine taking carbon tax revenues and offsetting that with personal income tax reductions and small business tax reductions and all kinds of credits and rebates. You know…

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members, let’s listen to the question, please.

T. Stone: …the seniors home-renovation tax credit — things like that. What was one of the first things this government did? They ended the revenue neutrality of the carbon tax. In fact, with these soaring gas prices, the NDP are actually raking in billions and billions of dollars of extra carbon tax that they’re taking right out of the pockets of British Columbians. Families are being hurt by these high prices, these high gas prices, and they deserve some relief from this government.

One tool, one mechanism, that’s available to this government, which we’re suggesting here today would not serve to put additional profits into the pockets of gas companies…. This government could use the B.C. climate action tax credit, a tool that Kevin Falcon and the B.C. Liberals created. The government could provide a one-time enhanced rebate…

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members, let’s hear the question.

T. Stone: …that could be implemented in time for the next payment in April. The government could do that, and that would provide relief to British Columbians immediately. So the question to the Premier is this. Will he implement this measure or any other measure that would serve to actually offset these soaring gas prices to help British Columbia’s struggling families?

Hon. B. Ralston: Well, the member for the opposition misreads the history of the carbon tax. It wasn’t revenue-neutral for British Columbians. In fact, it gave over $2 billion to some of the largest corporations in the province. And the fact is…. I want to quote…

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members.

Hon. B. Ralston: …a professor at UBC, Werner Antweiler. “The problem is that we have a situation in the global market and no amount of changes to taxes will make that go away.”

Increasing the carbon taxes planned in April by one cent a litre pales in comparison to the 20 to 30 cents a litre that is essentially the Putin tax that’s coming from the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

Source: BC Hansard

About Mel Rothenburger (9118 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on IN THE LEDGE – Premier shrugs and does nothing about high gas prices

  1. Jennie Stadnichuk // March 11, 2022 at 3:59 PM // Reply

    Prices are high now. Gas companies profit – this too will change – Solution? Drive less — that will be a positive development for the environment. Check out the price of an Electric Vehicle. Oh, and yes, B.C. will collect more revenue to pay for services we all profit by. Is that a crime? Bah on Todd Stone et al!

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