Thursday, October 19, 2006

Canadians say no to gas tax!

Well, at least Canadians seem to be unwilling to join the Greg Mankiw's celebrity Pigou Club plan to raise gasoline taxes to fight climate change. Al Gore might want to tax the hell out of car drivers, but Canadians will have none of it. A new poll by Strategic Council found that 79% of Canadians are opposed to a significant increase in the price of gasoline to fund greenhouse-gas reduction programs. Leave it to Toronto's Globe and Mail to get the story wrong: "Canadians warm to tax on enrgy use, Globe-CTV poll says." You have to really bend poll results to get to that conclusion, and bending poll results is something Strategic Council chairman Allan Gregg is expert at. One poll question asked about curbing greenhouse gases through an "energy tax based on the total amount of energy consumed by consumers and industries." About 55% of Canadians say yes to that. What does that mean? Said Mr. Gregg: "What it says is, 'If I'm a good person and don't use a log of energy, it wouldn't be paying much." He said it represents a "sense of fairness" on the part of Canadians. Given the question, I'd say the answer represents confusion on the part of people who were asked a baffling question.

Mr. Gregg has a long history of interpreting polls in ways that portray Canadians as wallowing left-of-centre upholders of conventional wisdom, even when the poll clearly shows the opposite. In this case, the only clear message was: Don't raise gasoline taxes!

It's a message Liberal leadershiip candidate Michael Ignatieff might want to note before he pushes his own gas tax plan any futher. For another real indicator of where Canadians are going on this, look to New Brunswick's new Liberal Premier, Shawn Graham. The first thing his government did, after one day in office the other week, was to cut the province's gasoline tax by 3.9 cents a litre. We hereby enrol Shawn Graham in the NoPigou Club.

Also enrolled is Amy Wasleske, a grade five student in Wausau, Wisconsin, who wrote a letter to the Wausau Daily Herald last week: "No vacation this year, kids! Gas prices are too high! At this rate we can't afford to go anywhere." Here’s part of what she said: “To begin with, I believe the government should start by reducing the gas taxes that are included in the price we pay at the pump. Also, the government needs to encourage companies to produce more oil in North America. With increasing our supply of oil in this country, we would lose our dependence on the oil that comes from other countries, save the cost of transporting it here, and hopefully bring prices down.”

Future presidential material in Amy. And definitely a member of the NoPigou Club. If you want to see her letter, it’s at the Wausau Daily Herald’s web site, but you have to pay.


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