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LETTER: Reader questions Conservatives' carbon pricing plan

Barrie resident asks where the money from the carbon tax should go, suggesting it should be available to everyone
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BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter, from former NDP candidate Peter Burzstyn, is in response to a story titled 'Mulroney campaigns for O'Toole in Quebec, compares now to time before his 1984 win' published on Sept. 15.

Erin O'Toole certainly is right  today's Conservative Party isn't "your dad's Conservative Party." That's a pity because I could have voted for that party, and did once.

I lost interest when they began to embrace "social conservatism." I actually was disgusted when Stephen Harper introduced his "snitch line" to report "barbaric cultural practices," wondering what was meant by that phrase and who would decide when that line had been crossed!

But today's signature issue has to be climate change. And there is no more efficient and direct way to reduce carbon emissions than to penalize them through taxation. To be fair, the carbon tax rate needed to start low and rise gradually. That gives people time to re-orient themselves to a lower carbon lifestyle. Moreover, it is very appropriate in a capitalist society.

Where should the money go? Well, it should be made available to "everyone" in the form of either direct subsidies or loans, so long as these were spent on projects which would reduce carbon emissions. Many of these would be "permanent." I mounted a few projects to improve my home insulation. These will continue to save energy and carbon emissions as long as the house stands. The high-efficiency furnace I purchased nearly 20 years ago has run flawlessly ever since. I very much doubt that I, or a future owner of this house, will ever replace it with a mid-efficiency unit, particularly if the carbon tax on natural gas continues to increase.

The electric car I bought nearly eight years ago was replaced last year with a newer, much-improved model. All of our city driving has been done in this vehicle. It performs best under conditions when the combustion engine is at its least efficient  cold starts and short-distance driving. On the other hand, when we undertake long trips, our diesel car is capable of covering the distance between Barrie and Quebec City where we have family literally without stopping for fuel, something no electric car can yet do.

The Conservative plan is to limit the carbon tax to a level which is unlikely to reduce carbon emissions. And how do they intend to fund their other pet scheme: Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)? If the carbon price is high enough, it would become self-funding. I clearly remember the Norwegian company, Statoil-Hydro, reporting to shareholders (I did own shares) that the Norwegian carbon tax had become high enough that they could actually make money by collecting the carbon dioxide emissions from their petroleum refinery and pumping these into their spent oil reservoirs under the North Sea. They thus created wealth for shareholders while reducing their discharge of greenhouse gas. We could, and should, fund CCS that way, too.

Finally, the "innovative" scheme hatched by the Conservatives is both complex and perverse. The more you spend on gasoline and natural gas, the more you will have in your "green savings account." This actually rewards people who discharge carbon dioxide into the atmosphere! Exactly how is this going to reduce Canada's carbon emissions?

I'm sorry, Mr. O'Toole, your carbon pricing scheme simply won't work, and you will not get my vote. I have tried to do my best to keep the planet cool for my grandchildren. It's very important, even if I will not live to see it.

Peter Bursztyn