It’s a fight both sides want because both sides expect to win.
And it’s personal.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went right to the backyard of Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Tuesday to fire the first shot in what will surely be a pitched battle from here until Oct. 21, 2019 — the date of Canada’s 43rd general election — over Trudeau’s just-announced carbon tax-and-rebate plan.
The Ford team — which includes many politicians, staffers and strategists who fought and lost as federal Conservatives in the 42nd general election — have been aching for a rematch with the Trudeau team that vanquished them in 2015. And with Trudeau’s plans finally unveiled, the undeclared campaign is finally on.
Ford will lead a quartet of conservative-minded politicians — joining federal opposition leader Andrew Scheer, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister — in unceasing insistence for the next year that a carbon tax is a tax on everything.
WATCH BELOW: Andrew Scheer says Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax plan will make everything more expensive
With the notable exception of Stephen Harper in 2015, the phrase a “tax on everything,” has been a useful one for the country’s conservative politicians ever since Stephane Dion unveiled his ill-fated “Green Shift” in the 2008 federal campaign.
But Trudeau now has a line of his own. It’s not a tax on everything. It’s a rebate for everyone! Well, maybe not everyone, but certainly a whole lot of voters in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and, most crucially, Ontario. Federal officials believe that 70 per cent of households will receive more from Trudeau’s so-called “carbon incentive” than they will pay in additional carbon taxes.
But, of course, that’s a concession that 30 per cent of households in those provinces will be worse off, that they’ll pay more under Trudeau’s scheme. And if those households are commuter households in the ring around Toronto, then Trudeau could be gambling his very government.
But Trudeau is betting on two things evident in many polls in the last few years on this issue: most Canadians actually do want to do something on climate change — but whatever that something is, they don’t want it to cost them too much.
And so the message from Trudeau and a quartet of his ministers dispatched to various regions around the country Tuesday is that being green will earn you a little green. Yes, you might pay a bit more at the gas pump over the year, but most will get all that back and more with “green dividend” payable once a year at tax time.
WATCH BELOW: Trudeau unveils the details of carbon tax rebates for Canadians
And while he’s talking up his rebate, Trudeau will not be shy about calling out Ford, Scheer or any other conservative politician for their opposition to his plan. His base loves when he bashes the blue team.
“The conservative movement in this country is determined not to act on the environment,” Trudeau said, with some justification, to a CBC radio interviewer Tuesday. “We are going to make real change happen by bringing in a price on pollution. The Conservatives want pollution to be free and we’re not going to allow that.”