By Rick Strankman, MLA
My last article stated “It’s never the right time to do the wrong thing,”¹ the timing of doing something you know is wrong is just as futile as thinking that there’s an actual right way to do the wrong thing. A shining example of attempting to do the wrong thing the right way is the carbon taxes implemented by both the Federal and Provincial governments.
The Alberta version of the carbon tax has made businesses less competitive simply by increasing input costs to these wealth creators, regardless of how you look at taxation, it does not create wealth. The Federal carbon tax set to take effect January 1st, 2019 is already creating financial uneasiness within some industries.
In a letter sent to three federal Ministers, the National Airlines Council of Canada is warning that “A carbon tax is probably the worst tool that you can envisage for aviation if you want to reduce emissions.”² They also went on to say that it would result in price increases and possibly even a reduction in service.
It’s not only the airline industry that has to worry about business being driven outside the jurisdictional carbon taxation boundaries; this is a burden that seriously affects the competitiveness of every business in Alberta and Canada. The unintended consequences of trying to do the wrong thing the right way is inevitably going to show up on the balance sheets of businesses across Alberta and Canada.
Convinced that the economy does not work the way it does, the Alberta government increased minimum wage forcing many small businesses into no-win situations. The recent increase prompted one small business owner to post a sign asking his patrons which would they rather see – a raise in prices or a decrease in staff? I can assure you no business owner wants to face a dilemma like this but it’s the new reality of poor policies that promote the wrong things.
As a lifelong conservative, I feel that the best way to create wealth is to leave as much as you can in the hands of the innovators and wealth creators. The notion that wealth can be created through taxation has debunked itself throughout history. Sir Winston Churchill summed it up best saying, “I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”
If we conducted a poll on the amount we pay in taxes, I’m sure you’d agree that the majority of people would say taxes are too high. So exactly how is the right way to implement a tax that the vast majority of Albertans would most definitely say is unnecessary?
Regardless of how you do the wrong thing, the end result is inevitably a negative one; which I guess you could say would be difficult if not impossible to do the right way.