Diesel Cuts Bad for Economy (and Planet)

What do you do to win an election? Roll out the pork of course. And so Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announces a proposed tax cut on diesel fuel, even if it will dig Canada even deeper into an economic and climate hole.

Canada already emits more carbon per capita than almost any other country on Earth. Our total carbon emissions are number seven worldwide – more than the United Kingdom, which has almost twice our population. Harper’s solution: make fuel even cheaper.

While this might play well in an election campaign it is the exactly the wrong direction to be taking our nation and our economy.

First of all the 2% reduction in excise tax would only reduce the cost of filling up a 100 litre fuel tank by less than $3.00. The Globe and Mail today estimated that the proposed cut would save consumers 1/3 of a cent on a loaf of bread. Yet this gimmick will cost the Canadian taxpayer over $600 million annually.

Harper himself agrees this is a dumb idea. In May of this year he told the St. Catherines Standard “The ability of governments to affect the prices of gasoline per se is so small that it's not worth doing.”

What a difference an election makes… Can someone say “flip flop”?

Such pandering need not make sense. It is about Harper getting a majority. That quest has already cost the country dearly.

Canada’s surplus has shrunk by 88% since 2000-01. In fact, Canada has already fallen into deficit territory this year. In April and May of 2008, Canada had a deficit of $517 million, compared to a surplus of $2.78 billion in the same two months of 2007. This ends an eleven-year streak of budget surpluses posted largely by the Tory's predecessors.

Harper’s cuts to the GST reduced revenues from that tax by 21% and cost the federal treasury over $14 billion up till the end of 2007.

While Harper is trained as an economist , his colleagues were almost unanimous in calling the GST cuts a dumb idea.

“Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid,” said Christopher Ragan, a McGill University economist who favours the Conservatives.

“I believe it's a poor idea,” said economist Mike Veal of McMaster University in Hamilton. He said most economists would choose an income tax cut.

Incredibly, the Tory tax cuts combined have cost more than all federal transfer payments for health and social programs combined. In other words, if Harper had not brought in these cuts, the federal government could have doubled its support for healthcare, post-secondary education, and social assistance.

By the way, Canada now has the worst performing economy in the G7.

So here we go again. The Conservative party is not only undoing almost two decades of work to bring our deficit under control, they are undermining the ability of Canada to move towards a green economy.

For a so-called laissez faire economist, Harper is instead meddling in the marketplace and hitching our wagon to a dying horse.

Oil prices have ballooned an incredible 500% since 2002. This is a worldwide phenomenon and well outside the control of a middle power like Canada.

This sea change in the global economy is already transforming the behavior of consumers. SUV sales have dropped 27% in 2008. Transit ridership jumped 5.2% in the second quarter of 2008. The world is rapidly moving away from an oil economy. Countries that choose to ignore this, do so at their peril.

Yet Harper’s prescription for our oil addiction is like handing a bottle of booze to an alcoholic. It might be popular in the short-term but its only going to make the problem worse, and delay necessary changes in Canada’s economy to compete in the 21st century.

We have a long way to go to transforming ourselves into a low carbon country. For the sake of our planet, and our pocketbook, the sooner we get going the better. Stephen Harper is clearly the wrong man for the job.


Canada won’t be reducing carbon output for a long time to come, especially when you consider how the tar sands are going to be ramped up over the next 20 years. I just don’t see it turning around. Carbon taxes will be imposed, but they’ll be kept minimal as the diesel tax reduction demonstrates.

A site that claims to be fighting distortion and dishonesty is actually censoring comments that make valid criticisms of its editorial content.

That’s known as hypocrisy.

Here’s what I posted at http://www.desmogblog.com/warmer-surface-waters-trigger-more-destructive-hurricanes and was sent to moderation queue and then not published - let’s see if it stays in this thread:

7 of the 8 links go to 2 or 3 year old articles on Ross’s personal website where he sells his books.

Does DeSmog really need to be used as a marketing platform for an author’s personal projects in such a blatant manner? It devalues the overall message.

P.S. The BBC article is worth reading - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7596643.stm


When I post a comment ‘normally’ I either receive ‘service unavailable’ or my comment gets sent to a moderation queue.

When I use anonymous proxy, it gets added immediately.

Something stinks around here.

I don’t think there is such a thing as censorship on a blog. The guy who runs the thing can take comments or not.He can also pick and choose which ones to keep. It’s a right that goes with running the blog.

Censorship is when a government refuses to allow books across the border. Comment moderation on a blog is fair play.

I raised this point in a direct email yesterday. It is an over reactive spam filter. Does this end the conspiracy?


Glad to see that you are overcoming your personal technical hurdles. I’m sorry to hear that you have been taking the whole thing personally, or imagining that we are following you around.



Ross Gelbspan has done 12 to 15 years of excellent research, much of it neatly collected on his website. It seems quite logical (and thoroughly acceptable) that he would link to that information.


Kevin says: If you are using an auto-signature, our spam filter thinks you’re a web bot flinging material at our site. Original material is good; repetition is bad. Thx. 


Your sarcasm aside, they’re not *my* technical hurdles as I’m not the only person who has complained about the flaky commenting system. I went to the trouble of registering an account - evidently that wasn’t enough for your system.

Not the first time this has happened, and I’ve emailed before - no reply to that. Is that my fault as well?

Did I question Gelbspan’s credentials? No, but good try at switching attention away from my criticism.

I expressed an opinion about dumping eight links in an ‘article’, seven of which point to years-old information on the subject and which just happen to be located on his personal promotional website. That’s an acceptable standard for DeSmogBlog, is it?

Well, it’s not for me… and I’m sure you’ll be stung to know that I’ve deleted this site from my RSS reader.

I’m afraid your response to this issue is as impressive as the one you produced for your debate with Monckton.

Good luck with improving the content and the technical construction of the site.

Blimey, Gov. No need for a bleedin’ tantrum. Tech goes pear shaped sometimes, it happens. Doesn’t mean you have to throw your teddy out of the pram.

You missed some important facts. The 2C drop will save the Toronto School board $2.4M in fuel costs. TTC will save some 1.6M. Airlines $50M. All each year.

Compare this to the “Tax Shift” which was admitted on Mike Duffy Live last night to increas 7c a liter. That would mean it will cost $6M more a year for Toronto’s school. $4M more for the TTC. Where are they going to get that money from? There is no income tax for them to get back. So municipalities will just pass this on in higher property taxes.

You’re assuming that there are no steps the school board (and everyone else) can take to use less fuel which is something that has to happen anyways. And by the way, any drop you see due to Harper’s proposed cut to deisel will be swallowed up by the oil companies who will just jack up the price anyways.

The school or anyone will not benefit from this, just harper’s buddies at the big oil companies.

That is nonsence. Unless you think schools will simply drive fewer kids to school. Unless you can come up with specific examples of how they can save fuel, your argument is worthless.

So is your accusation about Harper. Prove it.

Besides, it looks like Dions carbon tax plan is history. No one is buying their argument. My prediction: Harper majority. Liberals crushed. Dion gone by Xmas and we will never hear of a carbon tax again.

no the carbon tax thing isn’t going away for long - it’s too easy and tempting for any government. They can wear halos and take your money at the same time.

Not so sure. Dion has screwed this up so much that it’s likley a dead issue. (He certainly is a dead issue for the Liberals.) Just as dead as the national energy program and getting Quebec into confederation. Nope, I think it will be history.

If any government does try to reserect it they will have to give it one helova make over.

You’re assuming that there are no steps the school board (and everyone else) can take to use less fuel which is something that has to happen anyways. And by the way, any drop you see due to Harper’s proposed cut to deisel will be swallowed up by the oil companies who will just jack up the price anyways.

The school or anyone will not benefit from this, just harper’s buddies at the big oil companies.

AGW is the best excuse the left has ever had to take control or your life and tax the crap out of you.
They will exploit it to the max as long as they can.

By the time people begin to wake up and realize they have been had it will already be an entrenched part of the system.

Like I have said before, Socialism is a creeping cancer that will infect all part of your daily life.

AGW was invented to support the advance of the disease.

The cut of 2c on diesel is a short term reprieve only.
But a welcome one.

I follow the Star, good Liberal paper, every day. What is interesting are the comments on articles, especially on the carbon tax. Such as today http://www.thestar.com/FederalElection/article/496306

Read through the comments and the agree/disagree. Over the last few days the consensus is clear, even from normally liberal voters. The green shift has to go. People see right through what it is. Dion and the Liberals are going to go down in flames.

I am a relative newcomer to this site, nevertheless I have read many posts, and sent some of my own. Reading your comments and apparently entrenched position leads me to ask;

Can you tell the difference between Science and Politics?

AGW is politics.
GW is science.
The two have little to do with each other.

I would say that AGW is closer to a religion disguised as science trying to make political inroads into society. Then again there are times that politics and religion are often too similar to tell apart.

In a letter from July of 2007, Hansen wrote the following from NewScientist………

As an example, let us say that ice sheet melting adds 1 centimetre to sea level for the decade 2005 to 2015, and that this doubles each decade until the West Antarctic ice sheet is largely depleted. This would yield a rise in sea level of more than 5 metres by 2095.

The man is simply insane.
But ever so entertaining.

yeah - I’m not too worried about the Antarctic ice melting. Summer is short, from mid-December to mid-January temperatures can reach a balmy -30°C

It’s going to take a lot of global warming to melt that.

I Like to call these faith based suppositions. Interesting though is this series of exchanges I’ve had (many of which we never posted, but I kept), with those at RealClimate on this very subject.


Example of one item deleted that clearly shows their faith based suppositions:

Richard Wakefield Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
10 September 2008 at 8:01 PM

“[Response: Gore stated correctly that if Greenland melts it will cause sea level to rise 6 meters. I would have been happier if he said that the timescale for such a thing is likely long but uncertain. But I have no confidence that the timescale is 1000 years, and I have no confidence that this implies that sea level rises of 1 meter or more can’t happen in a century - gavin]”

Your no confidence is nothing more than faith. That is not science. If you disagree with these peer reviewed papers then publish a rebuttal. Until you do you are nothing more than preaching faith based suppositions.

Richard Wakefield Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
10 September 2008 at 8:04 PM

“[Response: You’re right, ocean warming must be due to some other mysterious energy force that is causing the planet to be out of energy equilibrium. - gavin]”
Which it has in the past!!! No more faith based suppositions! Give us your hard evidence that these changes from 1850-1945 were from AGW. If you cannot, science dictates that you cannot assume your position is the truth. Doing so does great disservice to science.

The paper referenced at RC claims that there is an upper limit on the melting which cannot exceed 2 meters by 2100, that’s the reference Gaven was refering to.

Icecap today has an article encouraging NASA to fire Hansen. http://www.icecap.us/

Have a look at this.

Reality really sucks when you are trying to push an agenda.

Sadly Dion and his Green Shaft idiots will never understand.

Civility is a minimum requirement if you wish your opinions to register with anyone.
Rude comments are fun at times, but nobody will actually take you seriously if you use profanity or just call people names.
The role of skeptic is important to science.
With it, all you have is faith based doctrine.

Don’t let your emotions control your keyboard. You won’t be heard.

I think you are a little confused. The purpose of my above comment is not to voice an opinion, it is to draw attention to the fact that Desmogblog, Littlemore, and company are a) censors, b) dishonest, and c) hypocrites.

This is not my opinion. The facts speak for themselves.

Also, I don’t get how you conclude that I am “rude”, or use profanity? The very idea that you imagine my comments are “emotional” is equally bizarre.

As I said, you appear to be somewhat confused.

You must have some kind of memory disorder if you don’t recall being rude and highly offensive on countless occasions. I have read a couple of posts from you that were so agitated I could practically see you foaming at the mouth.

And where is it written that the owners of blogs have an obligation to post any old bilge that people write? Nobody has a right to just dive in and hurl insults, adding nothing to the conversation. I think Richard showed remarkable restraint not banning you long ago. Nobody misses you.

Fern Mackenzie

Fern is pointing out that people won’t be missed again. I refuse to go away until she says she’ll miss me :)

I just think it is important to be skeptical of poorly supported theories that threaten to redefine global enonomies.
If you are banned, it is one less voice of reason in the hystrical din.

I thought this post was about Canadian Politics. How did it end up in a discussion about censorship?

Isn’t Harper going to the polls early? Is he hiding something?

The Conservative opposition tried this recently in Australia, suggesting a 5 cent/litre cut in excise. They were basically laughed at.

Rumours are starting that Dion and Danny Williams have a deal. Williams supports the Liberals and Dion will exempt Newfoundland from the carbon tax (they are now just reaping the benifits of oil).

I sure hope it’s true, Dion will be toast for sure.


Got a link you could show us?
I would love to see some specs on one of these.
Diesels age making great advances these days.