PM says carbon tax critics like Scheer, Ford want to 'make pollution free again'
OTTAWA – Critics of the federal carbon tax and broader climate change plan want to "make pollution free again," according to Prime Minster Justin Trudeau.
During a speech to an audience of high school students at the Anthropocene art exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada, Trudeau seemed to evoke U.S. President Donald Trump's oft-repeated "make America great again" slogan.
Speaking about the federal Liberals' newly-unveiled carbon tax rebate plan that will be applied in the four provinces who don't have a climate change plan that meets federal expectations, Trudeau said that "the critics" are shying away from making "the difficult choices we must make today."
"They would let Canada fall behind in the new economy. They look only to our past, rallying Canadians to 'make pollution free again,'" Trudeau said, raising his voice above the tone in which he was delivering the speech as he uttered this line.
"I know, and you know, there's no future in that," he continued.
During his remarks to the young crowd, Trudeau trumpeted what his government sees as the economic and innovation benefits of their approach to climate change, and said that the critics of a carbon tax don't think Canadians are up to the challenge of tackling climate change head on. Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has vowed to scrap the carbon tax if his party forms government in 2019, while Ontario Premier Doug Ford has joined forces with other Conservative-led provinces in their fight against the federal carbon pricing plan.
"Despite what you might have heard from Andrew Scheer or Doug Ford, you simply cannot have a serious climate plan without a price on pollution," Trudeau said.
He cited the work of William Nordhaus who recently won a Nobel Prize in economics for his carbon tax advocacy, and said he thinks Canada would be better off taking his advice, over "ideologues and politicians who deny there's a problem in the first place."
"What the critics all have in common is that they want you to think that it’s OK to have no real plan at all," Trudeau said.
This line of attack on his opponents echoed what Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna said in an interview with CTV's Question Period that aired on Sunday.
There, she told host Evan Solomon that criticism about the government's carbon tax plan from federal and provincial Conservative leaders is, in part, a "smokescreen" for not having presented climate change plans of their own.
In a statement responding to Trudeau's remarks, Brock Harrison, Scheer's director of communications, said the prime minister is "trying to trick Canadians into believing that his carbon tax is an environmental plan."
Harrison called it a "tax grab" that will raise costs "of everything" and wouldn't lower global emissions, something Scheer has said his plan would do.