The federal Liberals are under fire from both the left and the right after refusing to disclose the economic impact of their carbon pricing plan on average Canadians.
Earlier this week, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the plan will be revenue-neutral overall and that there will be no net increase in taxes. But details surrounding exactly how much people will pay will only be determined in September after each province reveals their individual approaches to applying the policy.
WATCH: Opposition asks Liberals how much carbon tax will cost average family
“I think what’s going to happen is that life is going to become more expensive for Canadians,” said Fast, noting that the Conservatives used access to information legislation to get hold of documents outlining the projected impact – but the numbers were redacted.
“The federal government actually has this information. They know what the impact on the average Canadian family will be … This is about a carbon tax coverup by the federal government.”
May said it’s never a good idea to black out information that should be made available to Canadians.
“I agree with Ed. They should be able to tell us: what’s it going to cost? How well is it going to work?” she said.
“In fairness to the Liberals, a lot of that answer depends on what the provinces do, and province by province there are different methods being used.”
The provinces and territories have until next year to implement some form of carbon pricing or have it imposed by Ottawa. Saskatchewan is taking Ottawa to court to fight that plan.
WATCH: Ottawa to intervene in B.C. government Trans Mountain court case
The key, May added, is that any taxation of pollution be revenue neutral, so whatever money is collected via carbon pricing is reduced on the income-tax side.
And that’s where the two diverged. The Conservatives oppose the very notion of a price on carbon emissions. Fast argued that, in the end, it will become a cash grab, with governments present and future using the money for “their own political priorities.”
May pushed back.
“Ed, I think you’re a guy who believes in free markets,” she said. “The problem with dumping pollution in the atmosphere and not paying for it is that is doesn’t send any signal to large polluters or individuals that you can’t use the atmosphere as a garbage dump … That’s what we’re doing.”
—With files from The Canadian Press
Watch the full panel discussion featuring Elizabeth May and Ed Fast this Sunday on The West Block, airing on Global 11 a.m. ET and 10 a.m. PT.