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BC NDP, BC United Party continue to clash over carbon tax and CleanBC

Last week, the BC United Party and its leader, Kevin Falcon, made a campaign promise to end the NDP’s CleanBC policy.

They cited a BC Business Council report that said CleanBC would set the province’s economy back a staggering $28 billion by 2030, and “set prosperity back a decade.”

In a previous interview with My PG Now, Falcon said BC United would instead go “all in” on exporting liquid natural gas to other countries that are still reliant on coal and other high greenhouse gas emission forms of energy, to help cut down on global emissions rather than regional emissions.

You can find that story, and much more context for this article, here.

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Yesterday, the BC NDP fired back, focusing on Falcon’s personal history with the BC Carbon tax.

In a release, NDP Langford-Juan de Fuca MLA Ravi Parmar called out Falcon for “hypocrisy,” and said Prince George MLAs Shirley Bond and Mike Morris are also “accountable for their leader’s hypocrisy on the carbon tax.”

My PG Now spoke with both Parmar and Bond on the issue.

“Kevin Falcon said on CHEK News (Victoria) four months ago, ‘I was always proud to be part of the government that brought in North America’s first revenue-neutral carbon tax, and I’m really really proud of that,'” Parmar said. “Then months later, because of the fact he is losing supporters to the BC Conservatives who oppose the carbon tax, he has suddenly decided to shift his position.”

“[He is] a guy that will literally say anything on the carbon tax to get elected,”

Parmar said, repeating “It is important for people in Prince George and the Cariboo area to know Shirley Bond, Mike Morris, and Kevin Falcon will say anything on the carbon tax to get elected.”

When we spoke with Falcon in November, he did say he was proud to be a part of the party that introduced the carbon tax, but he also said the NDP has “moved far away from what we ever anticipated when we brought in North America’s first revenue neutral carbon tax back in 2008,” and he would want to scrap it if re-elected.

“That was a tax that, by-law, we had to return every nickel back to the public in the form of lower personal taxes and business taxes. The NDP got elected and said ‘forget that,’ they got rid of that, now take all the revenues, and have more than doubled the carbon tax,” Falcon said.

Parmar and the NDP dispute the claim that the carbon tax was ever truly revenue neutral under the then BC Liberal party, saying “the main beneficiaries in Falcon’s own 2012-13 budget were large corporations, who received a tax break worth $450 million that year.

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He said “a single person in Prince George is now this year getting $447 per year back – an increase from $250 last year.  A family of four is getting nearly $900 back in these rebates.”

When we told Bond that Parmar suggested Falcon and the BC United party only flipped their stance on the carbon tax and CleanBC once the Conservatives made their position known, she laughed.

“That is utterly ridiculous,” she said. “The NDP are grasping at straws because they realize their CleanBC plan is an utter failure. That it is absolutely going to make life more unaffordable under their government than it is today.”

“When it isn’t working, you need to reassess. When you see it is having an unbelievably difficult impact on people – and most importantly you aren’t seeing emissions reduced – I think most people would think you would want to rethink that process,” Bond continued. “It is not about not doing anything to look at how we deal with the environment, it is how do we do both?”

“The NDP’s plan will decimate the economy, will impact families – and by the way – emissions will continue to go up. By any measure, that means it is a failure,” Bond said.

Parmar said if Bond and other BC United MLAs walked the party line and stood behind Falcon’s change of heart on the carbon tax and his stance against CleanBC, they too would be hypocrites.

“I think it is only fair that we as a government let citizens know where their MLAs stand,” he said. “In the end it is something we have seen in the legislature a number of times, the Conservatives will come out in a totally different position, and mister Falcon will follow that,” citing housing as another example alongside the carbon tax.

When Parmar was asked about what his rival party sees as the issue bigger than the carbon tax – the CleanBC policy, and its potential negative impacts on the economy, he said the NDP’s own calculations don’t line up with what the BC Business Council came to.

“The numbers that have been put forward by the economists from the BC Business Council don’t take into full consideration all the climate action we have been taking,” he said. “We have been very open that we dispute those numbers.”

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Parmar added “We are going to continue to be there to help communities like Prince George, the Cariboo, and all across the interior, rural, and northern BC to ensure they have good paying jobs well into the future.”

“I think British Columbians are going to take the word of credible economists in this province,” Bond said in response. “They’re not my words, not Mike’s or Kevin’s, these are leading economists that have demonstrated that plan will shrink the economy in BC by $28 billion, it will reduce family incomes by $11,000, and drastically cut jobs in this province – and emissions will continue to rise.”

“The NDP can say all they want about what they think the plan will do, I am going to take the word of credible, reputable economists every single time.”

“[Falcon] has made it clear that he has no climate plan,” Parmar said. “All the floods and wildfires that people in Prince George and across the region have been impacted by… people want us taking action on climate change and we are proud of our CleanBC plan – that is winning international awards, I might add.”

Falcon did tell My PG Now the provincial climate is not the biggest issue facing BC right now, saying “Frankly, we’ve got other huge problems facing us,” citing multiple issues in the healthcare system and a lack of transparency in education.

However, as mentioned at the top of the article, Falcon said his party would try to combat emissions globally by shipping natural gas to countries that are still primarily reliant on coal.

“I will reiterate, Kevin Falcon will say anything to get elected,” Parmar said, in response. “I am a relatively new MLA, I have only been in the legislature for three months, but it has become crystal clear to me they are in a tough situation with the Conservative Party and they will do and say anything to get elected.”

He said the NDP have also been supporting the LNG industry, that it is not an idea unique to BC United.

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“We are supporting the LNG industry – as it fits in our climate plan,” he said.

In closing, Parmar said “the clear message is that 4 months ago, Kevin Falcon said he was proud to have been a part of the government that brought in the carbon tax. Whether you are in favour of the tax or against it, my belief and the belief of my colleagues is it is impossible to trust Kevin Falcon on it, he will say anything to get elected.

In closing, Bond said “They (the NDP) have broken promises like housing, a healthcare system in crisis – when we see a plan that they choose to call CleanBC using hundreds of thousands of tax payer dollars to put out ads about a plan that is going to hurt the economy and cost BC’s families, you bet I am going to stand up, speak out, and hold the government to account every single day.”

“They are currently scrambling to try and figure out how to make British Columbians think this plan will be a success, when by any measure it will be a failure.”

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