Eco-levy a mixed-up mess

A Town Crier Community Column

When BP blew an oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, BP started writing cheques to clean it up.

But if BP were located in Ontario, Dalton McGuinty would add a surcharge to your gasoline so you could pay for the clean up, not BP.

That’s the basic principle behind the bungled eco-levy, which McGuinty introduced in July then withdrew a few days later.

Instead of making the companies who produce toxic products change how they do things or pay to treat the toxics they produce, you do.

Or at least, the Liberals tried to make you before making a mess of another environmental project.

Here in our community, people want action on toxic chemicals getting into the Don River and Lake Ontario. Many thought it was good news that paint, oil and heavy-duty cleaners would start having to pay their own way. But no.

All the Liberals did was transfer the cost of dealing with toxics from your property tax bill to your credit card. Heaven forbid the companies who profit from making these products bear the costs of recycling or reusing them.

We’ve seen the same thing on climate change. You pay more to cook dinner through time-of-use metres, while developers have no new rules to make buildings more efficient.

Judging from your phone calls and emails, this upsets many of you. It should, because the Liberals ignore their own logic.

If making electricity more expensive makes people use less, why wouldn’t higher prices to produce toxics force companies to use cleaner alternatives? We’ll never know, because instead of giving financial incentives to companies to clean up their act, McGuinty chose to ding families with one more expense.

But the Liberals couldn’t even get that right. With almost no notice, they delivered a program so bungled and complicated that retailers and consumers alike revolted. Not because people oppose ways to reduce toxics, but because once again, the McGuinty Liberals have given a bad name to good environmental ideas.

Just to make sure as many people were as angry as possible at environmental initiatives, the eco-levy took effect on the same day as the new HST. It will cost the Liberals about $5 million more to fix the program before it’s unveiled again this autumn.

Let’s help save that money. It’s time for this government to start making companies do their bit. These same companies are saving money thanks to the HST. And they need a financial incentive to take responsibility for the products they make. Slapping Ontarians with one more charge — ostensibly to make us greener — won’t make more people more sustainable.

It will just make more people think of higher prices when they hear the word environment. That can’t be good, but is just what McGuinty has done for seven incompetent years.

There’s a hotline set up so people can report businesses still charging the levy. The number is 1-800-889-9768.

About this article:

By: Peter Tabuns
Posted: Aug 27 2010 5:35 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto