Swan Hillians Join “Axe The Tax” Demonstrations

Members of the Swan Hills community peacefully expressed their opposition to the federal carbon tax increase that went into effect on April 1. A group of roughly 15 Swan Hills residents gathered at the intersection of Highways 32 and 33 at the southwest corner of town with Canadian and F*ck Trudeau flags as well as homemade signs to show their displeasure with the added financial burden of a higher carbon tax, especially at a time when the substantially increased costs of living are already straining the budgets of many households across the country.

There are two different carbon pricing systems in Canada: one for industrial emitters (where companies pay according to their actual emissions) and a consumer carbon levy on fossil fuels. The levy on fossil fuels is added to the price of over 20 different types of fuel that produce greenhouse gases when burned. The levy applied to these fuels differs according to the amount of greenhouse gases produced when the specific type of fuel is burned. For example, burning diesel produces more carbon dioxide than burning gasoline, so the levy on diesel is higher than the levy placed on gasoline.

Canada’s federal carbon pricing increased from $65 per tonne to $80 per tonne on April 1. This increase translates to an additional 3.3 cents per litre of gas (bringing the total carbon levy to 17.6 cents per litre) or 4.01 cents per litre of diesel (for a total carbon levy of 21.39 cents per litre).

Albertans were hit with a double whammy at the pumps on Monday, as the provincial fuel tax also increased by 4 cents per litre (from 9 to 13 cents per litre) on the same day as the carbon tax hike.

Swan Hills was not alone in demonstrating its displeasure over the carbon tax increase; many groups of Canadians protested across the country on Monday. One protest on the Trans-Canada Highway west of Calgary was still ongoing as of April 2.

Jim Tourangeau organized the Swan Hills demonstration, inviting fellow residents to join him through a Facebook post on the Swan Hills General Discussion page. When asked about his reasons for organizing the event, he explained that as a senior with a fixed income, every further increase in his cost of living further erodes his ability to maintain his quality of life. An increase of $4 here and $10 there adds up fairly quickly.

Many Canadians are in the same boat as Tourangeau and are already facing significantly increased costs for housing, groceries, heating, and other necessities while on a fixed income. Increasing the price they pay at the pump while they are also trying to manage a plethora of other price increases is adding considerable stress to their already stressed budgets.

Tourangeau explains that we have to stop saying that everything is fine and take action, declaring, “It’s time for Canadians to stand up and show that we need a change in government and in our country.”

While Tourangeau was hoping for a larger turnout for Monday’s demonstration, he knew it wouldn’t be a massive event in a town with a population of 1201 people on the most recent census. He summed up his thoughts on the matter by saying, “We’re not going to be on the evening news, but we’re here.”

Whether the federal government will take heed of the multiple protests and demonstrations across the country remains to be seen, but a lot of Canadians are hurting from the seemingly endless price hikes on many necessities of life.

Something’s gotta give.

Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette