POLITICS
05/13/2019 13:51 EDT | Updated 05/13/2019 16:43 EDT

Ontario Launches Anti-Carbon Tax TV Ads Paid For By Taxpayers

Nickels pour out of gas pumps, heating vents and grocery shelves in the ad.

DOUG FORD/TWITTER
Nickels pour out of a man's heating vent in a new ad paid for by Ontario taxpayers. The ad takes aim at the federal government's carbon tax.

TORONTO — The Ontario government is calling the federal government's carbon tax a money drain in new TV attack ads paid for by taxpayers.

"The federal government is charging you a carbon tax," a narrator says over video of the price at a gas station rising.

"You're paying a nickel more per litre."

The government-produced advertisement shows nickels pouring out of heating vents and from under piles of fruit at a grocery store.

The ad cites a statistic that the carbon tax will cost the average Ontario family $648 a year by 2022, but fails to mention that the federal government says it's rebating 90 per cent of the revenue back to taxpayers.

This year, the average Ontario family will pay about $256 more because of the carbon tax but will receive a $300 rebate, according to the parliamentary budget office.

Ontario's environment minister, Rod Phillips, denies the ads are misleading.

"We are being very clear," he told reporters Monday. The ads communicate the message that his Progressive Conservative government is against both the federal government's carbon tax and the cap-and-trade program Ontario had under the Liberals.

"We'll let them communicate their message," Phillips said of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government.

Trudeau's government would not have applied its carbon tax on Ontarians if Ford's government hadn't cancelled cap and trade.

That program, implemented under former premier Kathleen Wynne, would have cost households significantly less than the federal carbon tax backstop, which is only for provinces that don't have their own pollution price.

FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE OF ONTARIO
This graph from Ontario's Financial Accountability Offices compares the average cost of the Wynne government's cap-and-trade program and the federal government's carbon tax backstop. The federal carbon tax was applied to Ontario because Premier Doug Ford's government cancelled cap and trade.

Ontario is challenging Ottawa's authority to implement a carbon tax in court.

A similar challenge brought by Saskatchewan's government just failed.

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled in a split decision that the tax is constitutional.

Saskatchewan's premier, Scott Moe, said he'd appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

Watch Premier Scott Moe's reaction to the court decision. Story continues after video.

Ford also said he'd keep up the fight.

"I'm disappointed with the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal's decision, but that will not stop us from continuing to fight the federal carbon tax in Ontario," the Ontario premier said in a statement after the decision was released.

Ontario's sole Green MPP said the new ads place the government "on the wrong side" of the debate over climate change.

"The anti-climate campaign spearheaded by Doug Ford is a partisan spectacle focused entirely on financing [federal Conservative leader] Andrew Scheer's election campaign with taxpayer money," Mike Schreiner said in a statement.

He noted that many economists say carbon pricing is a cheap and effective way to reduce emissions, and that Canadian provinces that had prices on pollution in 2017 also had the best-performing economies.

"Yet the Conservatives have abandoned market principles and basic facts because they still see climate action as a wedge issue to divide voters."

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