Stuff Still Happens, week 21: Carbon taxes and classless acts

The Rachel Notley government unveiled its carbon levy tax scheme this week, and in classic government fashion it downplayed just how much it will cost the average Albertan.

According to the government, a typical Alberta family will pay between $70 and $105 extra per year for consumer goods and services as a result of the carbon tax (or carbon “levy” as the government prefers). One of the new taxes is an increase of almost 5 cents a litre on gas. OK, say you fill up your 50 litre tank, which will cost you another $2.50. If you fill up twice a month, that’s an extra $5. So yearly, that’s $60 — and we haven’t added the additional charges for natural gas, or the additional charges every industry in Alberta will add on to what you buy to cover the costs of the tax. Methinks the government is lowballing the total cost to the people, which isn’t the first time a government has fudged the costs of taxation, and it won’t be the last. The net impact, I think, will be billions in additional dollars for the government, and no appreciable decrease in emissions. The carbon tax is more of an expensive public relations campaign than sound public policy, and we won’t know the real impact until years go by and billions have been collected. But hey, I’m one of those who will get rebates, so … tax away, Rachael!

Wildrose goes wild

The Wildrose Party has managed to sand down the rough edges of its party over the years, using plenty of industrial grit. But the appearance of a Grit in the legislature showed just how far the party has to go to overcome its reputation for far-right fanaticism.
Ontario’s Liberal premier, Kathleen Wynne, was in Edmonton to talk to Rachel Notley, and as is customary she watched question period from the gallery. After being introduced, Wildrose rabble-rouser Derek Fildebrandt asked Notley why Wynne was invited to come to Alberta. He blasted Ontario, and Wynne, for “skyrocketing power bills, massive subsidies to unprofitable initiatives, and auditor general reports into billions of wasted tax dollars.” When Notley rose to respond, Fildebrandt yelled “Invite (Saskatchewan premier) Brad Wall! Invite Brad Wall!”
This was rude, and stupid, on every level. The legislature is steeped in customs, and one of the things you do when a visiting dignitary is watching the circus is to treat them with respect. Put another way, you don’t invite someone into your home then dump all over them. Fildebrandt has since apologized, but what he did — clearly with the approval of leader Brian Jean — was embarrassing to Alberta. Clearly, these guys are quite a ways away from being government-ready.

The Am-badass-ador strikes

Remember Kevin Vickers, Canadian hero?

Mr. Vickers (I call him mister because he deserves respect) was the Sergeant at Arms in Parliament when it was attacked in 2014. Mr. Vickers, a former mountie, was one of those who shot and killed the gunman who was terrorizing Parliament Hill. A photo of Mr. Vickers, striding manfully in his ceremonial garb, gun in hand, made him a national hero. For his reward, he was named ambassador to Ireland, presumably to enjoy the semi-retirement enjoyed by Canadian ambassadors in non-essential countries.

Captain Canada in action. 

But semi-retirement does not fit Mr. Vickers well. This week during a ceremony in Dublin to honour the British soldiers who died in the 1916 Easter Rising, Vickers took matters into his own hands (literally) when a protestor interrupted the proceedings. Mr. Vickers strode towards the scrawny, Moby look-alike protestor, grabbed him and hauled his ass out of the scene, then calmly returned to the ceremony. Even better, he did this while ceremonial guards stood placidly by (they were only ceremonial, after all) and the real security was somewhere off having a smoke. Some people took exception, of course, but not many. This isn’t what ambassadors are supposed to do, but Mr. Vickers was a Mountie a lot longer than he has been an ambassador.

Ya gotta love the guy.

This just in … they’re still playing hockey. 

The National Hockey League is still playing, rumour has it. I had to check the paper to see who’s still active.

This week, the Stanley Cup finalists were set, and the NHL and its Canadian broadcasters narrowly avoided disaster. Thanks to the appearance of the Pittsburgh Penguins and all-Canadian superstar Sydney Crosby, there will be a few hundred thousand more viewers for the finals. Had the Penguins lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Stanley Cup would have featured hockey hotbeds Tampa and San Jose. Viewership for that matchup would have barely eked out a million viewers. Overall, thanks to the lack of Canadian content, hockey playoff numbers are down 44 per cent in Canada; the only playoff games that have topped 1.5 million viewers since the playoffs started are three games involving the Penguins. Three NBA playoff games featuring the Toronto Raptors topped 1.5 million viewers as faux fans jumped on the bandwagon. Overall, hockey viewership skews a lot older than basketball, which doesn’t bode well for the NHL.


John Brophy, 83, former head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.



By Maurice Tougas

Maurice Tougas is a lifelong Albertan, award-winning writer and reporter, and a former MLA for Edmonton-Meadowlark.

1 comment

  1. While I agree the ND’s lowballed the impact of the carbon tax I believe it sends an important message to us all – climate change must be addressed and a Ctax is the simplest and fairest way to incent behavior change; start low and gradually build till you get the changes required for social license (whatever that is) and our grandchildren deserve.

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