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If elected premier of Ontario, new Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford says he will get rid of the carbon cap-and-trade system and make sure millions of dollars stay in the province rather than heading for California or Quebec.
"This cap and trade, we’re giving $469 million to California of our hard-earned tax dollars. No one wants to do that, that’s a bunch of nonsense, we’re keeping that $469 million right here in Ontario," Ford told CTV News in Toronto in the days after he was named leader of the party.
He said the same thing to CBC morning radio hosts in Ottawa and Toronto. And to Ryan Doyle on Newstalk 1010, he said, "With the cap and trade, we’re giving $469 million of our money over to California and Quebec. Why? We’re going to keep that $469 million right here in Ontario, we’re going to invest it into transportation and roads."
The source of Ford's $469 million remains elusive, however.
'Doug Ford does not understand how our system works'
With cap and trade, companies whose greenhouse gas emissions fall below a set cap receive credits and companies that emit more can buy credits. This system puts a price on the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change, and uses a market mechanism to change how large companies behave. The companies with stronger environmental performance are generally rewarded in this system with the ability to sell credits on the market. To date, the allowance auction mechanism has netted the province about $2.3 billion.
Last year, Ontario joined a cap-and-trade market with California and Quebec. Its first auction was in February, and Ontario Environment Minister Chris Ballard announced recently that the province raised $471-million in the joint auction.
National Observer reached out to both the provincial government and Ford's campaign to explain his $469 million figure. Ford's team did not respond to multiple requests by press time.
Environment and Climate Change Minister Chris Ballard responded with a written statement that highlighted the green projects that the carbon market is legislated to invest in, including public transit and social housing retrofits, and a warning that abandoning a carbon tax "would result in cuts to billions of dollars worth of green initiatives."
"Fundamentally, Doug Ford does not understand how our system works," Ballard wrote. "Ontario does not use public dollars to purchase allowances. This is a market system involving transactions between private businesses. Businesses can choose to purchase carbon allowances in order to lower their overall greenhouse gas pollution. Remember, our system caps the greenhouse gas pollution that businesses can emit into the atmosphere. This cap will lower over time."
— With files from Carl Meyer