Ontario government sticking it to the carbon tax with mandatory gas station decals
The Ontario government is threatening to punish gas station owners for failing to post stickers at the pumps reminding drivers of the cost of the carbon tax.
The federal government introduced the controversial tax in April; putting a price, they say, on pollution by increasing the price of gas by an average of 4 cents a litre, according to experts. The tax, which the federal government says is revenue-neutral, was first introduced by conservatives, but has been criticized by the Ontario Progressive Conservative government.
The Minister of Finance, Rod Phillips has said it will be mandatory by the end of August for all 3200 Ontario gas stations to display the decals or be fined as much as $10,000 for corporations. Individual gas station owners could be slapped with penalties of $500 for their first infraction and $1000 for every subsequent failure to comply.
“We're concerned about the environment and we can fight climate change but you don't need a carbon tax to fight climate change,” said Phillips. “If there was an issue, and quite frankly, I don't anticipate there's going to be, we have to remember 80% of small businesses have made it clear they have a problem with the carbon tax.”
Joe Saab is one of those owners who will proudly display the decals at his Cyrville Road gas station; where he’s worked for 36 years. “I really love it. It will be a good idea,” said Saab, who calls the carbon tax a ‘cash grab’ and believes everyone is being ripped off at the pumps because of the tax.
“Nobody likes the carbon tax, because we all pay extra for everything. Not only for gas; for everything you buy,” said Saab.
Not all drivers agree with Saab, many filling up understand the reason for a carbon tax and why the provincial government is rolling out the decals. “They want people to be mad that this is what's happening, but the reality is you use a vehicle, you put gas in your car you are contributing to climate change,” said driver Rebecca Bunch.
Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, says the provincial government is misleading Ontarians about the effective of the carbon tax, instead forcing gas stations to post the messages at the pumps or face stiff fines.
“Small businesses should have freedom of speech; they should not be forced by penalty of a 10-thousand dollar fine a day to have misleading stickers,” said McKenna. “The costs of climate change are clear, they’re in the billions of dollars and we’re also giving the money back. We have a price on pollution, all the money is going back.”
Not all drivers are buying that argument; claiming the carbon tax is costly when filling up at the pumps.
“Having a sticker there is good, because when you're pumping gas you’re not going to be thinking about that unless you have something showing the huge effect of the increase of it,” said driver Matt O’Connor.
One Ottawa gas station owner, Mahmoud Amoli, said he is left with very little choice but to put up the stickers when they arrive, “Big fine, man, so we better put it up,” he said; though Amoli expressed support of the carbon tax, “It’s good for the environment.”