Harper government praises the Australian government in their efforts to repeal their carbon tax

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

In a somewhat strange move, the Harper government is publicly praising their Australian counterparts for introducing legislation that would repeal that country's carbon tax — an economy wide environmental levy on greenhouse gas emissions.

Late Tuesday, Paul Calandra, parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, issued this statement:

"Canada applauds the decision by Prime Minister Abbott to introduce legislation to repeal Australia's carbon tax. The Australian Prime Minister's decision will be noticed around the world and sends an important message.

"Our government knows that carbon taxes raise the price of everything, including gas, groceries, and electricity. Prime Minister Abbott has said that, in Australia, the repeal of the carbon tax will reduce the average household's cost of living by (in Australian dollars) $550 a year, take $200 off household power bills and $70 off gas bills.

"Our government has reduced greenhouse gas emissions while protecting and creating Canadians jobs - greenhouse gas emissions are down since 2006, and we've created 1 million net new jobs since the recession - and we have done this without penalising Canadian families with a carbon tax."

It seems like an odd move. Rarely do governments of one country overtly take a position on another government's policies.

But this is about the carbon tax, and this is the Harper government. The Tories have been playing politics with this issue for years.

Last year, they spent the Fall and Winter months of Question Period spreading the narrative about the NDP scheming to introduce a "job-killing carbon tax."

They even produced an attack ad about it.

For their part, the NDP said that the Tories were "lying."

"This is an ethical decision Stephen Harper is going to have to deal with, because he knows his MPs are lying when they say that," Mulcair told Global News in September 2012, adding that his party supports a cap and trade system much like the plan proposed by the Harper government in 2008.

[ Related: Carbon Tax repeal motion introduced ]

Earlier this month, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau mused about "putting a price on carbon pollution" at an address to Calgary’s Petroleum Club.

Subsequently, Conservative MP Ryan Leef stood in the House to make this claim.

The Liberal leader has lent his support to the radical NDP centrepiece of irresponsible economic management, whose $20-billion carbon tax would raise the price on absolutely everything. However, our government rejects that idea to impose a job-killing carbon tax that would increase the price on everything, including gas, electricity, and groceries--a tax on all Canadians.

On this side of the House, we know that higher taxes hurt job creation. We know that it is the opposite of what Canadians expect of their government, so on this side of the House, we will not bow down to the NDP and Liberal coalition on a carbon tax.

The Tories are going strong against the carbon tax because it's good politics.

Many will recall former Liberal leader Stephane Dion's noble attempt at trumpeting a national carbon tax during the 2008 election. The idea fell flat on its face almost as fast as Dion did. Former Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh went as far as calling the issue an "albatross" around his neck during the '08 campaign.

[ More Politics: Tories want Liberal MP fired for comment that was “an insult” to veterans ]

As for Australia's tax, it could be months before legislation to repeal it is passed.

Conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott had made repealing the former Labor Party's carbon tax one the major planks of his recent election campaign.

But, according to Reuters, Australia's Senate is poised to delay or even defeat the bill.

(Photo courtesy of Reuters)

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