Shields talks about inflation and gas prices

·5 min read

With Canadians dealing with both the increasing effects of inflation on the economy and all-time high gas prices, many of them are now looking to the government to fix these issues. Due to this, and as a follow-up to our earlier stories with the Canada Taxpayers Federation, we spoke with Bow River MP Martin Shields. We started off by asking him if he agreed with their views on the government reducing their taxes on gas.

“Yes, Alberta did. Alberta cut the gas tax, the (Rob) Ford government (in Ontario) is talking about doing it, (U.S. President Joe) Biden is asking for three months in the U.S. on the gas tax, and so that is our position,” said Shields. “The inflation, the cost of gasoline, people getting to work, middle class — I mean people got to get to work. This is very prohibitive, this would be the opportu- nity where I totally agree — let’s reduce the GST, the carbon tax, any of those things that our government added be- cause there’s a lot of government things added on to what you pay at the gas station. Let’s give a period break, let’s reduce some of them, let’s do something because in most parts of town you can’t ride your bike to work, you can’t ride a bus. When was the last time you caught a bus to work in Taber? For a lot of people, driving is what they have to do and we should be looking at that. Even the cost of transportation, buses are running on fuel, those prices will go up eventually because of the costs. So yes, reduce.”

We asked Shields if a sidestep to this entire problem with gas prices would be to shift over to electric vehicles.

“The problem in the sense of the number of electrical is the capability to charge. How many houses have the capability to? If you were to say tomorrow we would reduce the carbon (tax) and taxes on gasoline, you could have that effect pretty immediately. The problem is the day it goes down, it was effective pretty immediately. In the sense of driving electrical vehicles, number one houses aren’t basically wired for it, businesses, where you come to work, aren’t wired to do it. They talk about how there are this many charging stations. Yes, most of them are in close locations together in major urban centres. That’s problematic. The electrical vehicle cost for buying cars, currently the government is subsidizing the purchase of electric vehicles. The only people who can afford them are people who are not the middle class, and so there are challenges that are transitional. We have to change the grade — we do not have enough electricity in the system to support a massive shift, so we’re talking transition over a long period of time.”

Shields also shared his thoughts about inflation and discussed a Franco Terrazzano (federal director of the Canada Taxpayers Federation) quote on the government printing money out of thin air.

“When you say printed that is actually what they are doing,” said Shields. “Printing and buying bonds, municipal bonds, government bonds. It is increased our national debt to over a trillion dollars from about 700 (billion dollars), but this particular government, for the last five years before COVID, it was spending tens of million dollars over what they were bringing in as income. They have never been near balance/balancing a budget for the years before it. What they did then as the multiplier number under COVID, they absolutely spent hundreds and hundreds of billions and increased our national debt to generational — in a sense of being able to balance the budget and that’s very problematic.”

Shields use the analogy of a credit card to help explain this problem.

“It’s like in a sense of owning a credit card. If you have $3,000 on your credit card and you only have $1,000 to pay it back, you’re going to have $2,000 and you’re going to pay interest on it and it keeps getting bigger and bigger. If you never increase the amount to pay against it but yet the debt is getting higher, then the interest is getting higher. More of our national tax base is going just to pay the interest. Same as it would’ve been on your credit card — if you pay the minimum balance and you keep spending more and more each month, then the interest gets higher and higher. It’s a multiplier effect and that’s what we’re facing here.”

After this explanation, we asked Shields if Terrazzano’s solution to inflation by having Canadians contact their local politicians is the best option for them to push back against the rise of inflation.

“You look at the inflation — you go to the grocery store and well I can’t buy that, or what I bought last week it cost me $60 — on this week it cost me $80. What am I going to do to afford that? I need this amount of protein in my household. Going to talk to my politician.’ We encourage communications with politicians and absolutely appreciate hearing it. As you know, we send out many surveys on a regular basis, we have many people write to us, phone us, or just text us, and that is important. What we say is you got your local politician, but there are 338 of us federally and you can email all of them for free. Don’t stop at just one, and it’s the same with your MLAs. All people in all parties need to hear your opinion. Don’t just contact your elective person. There are 338 MPs, there’s 80 some MLAs and the more everybody hears about it the better we are.”

Ian Croft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Taber Times

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