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Hyperbole is one of those irresistible urges that gets us in trouble every time we cave into the impulse. Especially when the blood runs hot, it’s hard for anyone to resist kicking their argument up a notch with a dollop of exaggeration.

Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s environment minister, let loose a bit of it this week when he took a run at Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

Ford, as usual, was slagging the federal carbon-pricing program, a mainstay of the Liberal government’s climate policy, claiming it is hurting families.

Guilbeault took the bait and fought back, noting that rebates offset much of the pain. An Ontario family of four will get back almost $1,000 from the federal carbon-pricing system, he said. That, for the most part, is true.

But Guilbeault couldn’t resist one parting shot: “I find it incredibly rich coming from a premier who has no plan to fight climate change.”

This, of course, isn’t true. Ontario — in spite of Ford, who has run roughshod over climate initiatives since the day he was elected — does have some climate projects on the go. Ford was quick to list them off, noting Ontario has recently signed a deal with Volkswagen to build a battery production company in St. Thomas, is spending billions to wean two steel plants off coal and is dumping billions more into transit.

Still, anyone looking back at Ford’s climate record can forgive Guilbeault for bristling.

This, after all, is the premier who rolled back electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and halted Ontario’s EV rebate program as soon as he got elected in 2018. This is also the guy who announced last year that Ontario was upping its use of natural gas to generate electricity, thereby upping carbon emissions.

And let’s not forget Ford’s eagerness to pave part of the protected Greenbelt to make way for sprawl, an eco-nightmare that leads to more roads, more traffic and yes, higher emissions.

When Steven Guilbeault accused Doug Ford of having no climate plan, it wasn't quite true. But it was close to it. #onpoli #cdnpoli #CarbonTax

To be fair, you can hardly blame the federal climate minister, whose bona fides show he cares about climate progress, for being frustrated by the likes of Ford, who clearly does not.

But Guilbeault’s overstatement was also probably born of frustration over his own failure to convince many Canadians, particularly those in oil-producing provinces, that federal rebates to families more than offset the financial hit of carbon pricing. That message has been drowned out by the constant drumbeat from Opposition leader Pierre Poilievre and like-minded premiers like Ford who generally resent federal taxes but have a particular loathing for this one.

The Liberal rebate retort lost further steam this week with the release of a report by Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer, which concludes most households will come out behind on the carbon tax. The reasoning was based on a big-picture look at Canada’s sluggish economy. It looked at the broad impact of the carbon price and its contribution to dropping overall investment and incomes and concluded average households would experience a “net loss.”

Most provinces resisted the tax from Day 1, and this latest report will only heighten their resolve to kill it, should they get the chance. Ontario, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan had to be forced, kicking and screaming, by the Liberals to adopt the federal tax regime. Alberta caved in but only after it, along with Ontario and Saskatchewan, went to court to battle the tax and lost.

Anti-carbon-pricing sentiment factored large in the so-called “Freedom Convoy” protests that blocked borders and ground the city of Ottawa to a halt last year. And more recently, Poilievre and Alberta Premier Danielle Smith have been hammering away at the tax, and the message resonates with many people financially strapped by inflation and a looming recession.

All that must have Guilbeault and the Liberals worried at a time when polls show them neck and neck with the Conservatives.

So sure, Guilbeault was guilty of hyperbole when he tore the strip off Ford. The anti-tax sentiment is running high, and it most certainly will be an election issue.

Fighting carbon pricing, which is a proven measure to draw down a country's emissions, is a losing battle for humanity. Ford probably knows this, but talking up the benefits of taxation, especially this one, doesn’t play to his base. So he’ll no doubt keep on the offensive, and Guilbeault will be forced to respond time and again.

A close look at Ford’s record shows Guilbeault’s remark is one of those cases where hyperbole comes pretty close to the truth. Still, next time he goes on the attack, it would be better to stick to straight facts.

Keep reading

Let's be honest about Doug Ford's history and policies.
Spending by his government on "subways" in Toronto is on his privately-owned "vanity line," to replace an already funded and shovel-ready line that had gone through lots of consultation, done all the environmental and engineering studies, etc. ... for trains that can't travel on existing tracks ... and most of it (the parts not running through Conservative country) he wants to be above-ground, with trains thundering past schools and homes every I-think-it-was 15 seconds. When those elevated trains go by, they look into residents' windows, are very noisy (interrupting conversations) ... and not only are eyesores, but distribute dust (dirt, that isi), every time a train goes by.
He took ownership of Toronto's transit system away from Toronto ... I heard nothing about any payments to Toronto, making it a theft.
Doug Ford was responsible for cancelling a cross-town rapid-transit system (which once running for premier, he blamed on the council.
He cancelled a cap-and-trade deal with California, costing tons of money to abrogate, and claiming it saved Ontario money by getting rid of the "profits" Ontario would have gained from the deal. Then he cancelled wind installations that were already approved, and cancelled vehicle emissions testing ... thanks to which Toronto is again subjected to a lot more toxic motor-vehicle exhaust than previously.
Anything that might effect positive emissions reductions is only on paper. So far, it's all been solely about money for his friends-and-election-contributors, from what I can tell.
Not that he's upfront about anything. As I've noted before, he's likely the biggest liar of all Ontario politicians to date. And I'm not saying he simply lies more, but that it's habitual, wall to wall, surround-sound.
So if we're counting "plans" to de-carbonize, it's probably reasonable to consider the federal financing he's piggy-backing on ... and not unreasonable to offset it with other things still in planning stages, that add to the carbon burden.

He came into the premiership of Ontario when they were ahead of schedule in meeting 2030 targets, even claiming that Ontario didn't have to do any more because they were already almost at 2030 targets.

Gilbeault is right, and I'm glad he's speaking up publicly and getting some minor press coverage when he does so.

It would have been both fairer and more accurate to focus on the overall accuracy of his statement over the length of his premiership, rather than seizing on a couple of projects that in all likelihood would have happened anyway with existing federal incentives ... and that will wind up building highways with horrific carbon costs, both in construction and in use.

Wow, he IS bad. This wall to wall surround sound lying (good description) is what's changed since Trump; they now lie like they breathe; it's literally a new and entirely acceptable way of speaking when it comes to the game of politics. Because it's a game, it's about winning above all else. Ends justify the means.
That way lies the madness of Putin and Xi, who not only have zero regard for the truth, they also either throw people who DO into jail or kill them. There is an advantage to that system in that they can go ahead and do big things on a massive scale unfettered by elections every four years (and moving toward the fractious American model of TWO) but the male megalomania that drives them to take over the world also makes them complete psychopaths.
Unfortunately, all that drive and energy is what constitutes our notions of "leadership" in a world that is still very much a man's world.
Guys like Ford, PP and Trump don't actually have any of that that in their sights of course because winning and power entirely occupies their view, such preoccupation putting them on a par with most people who are struggling to just survive financially right now.
We're in real trouble here despite, and BECAUSE of that polite Canadian take, the premium placed on the low-drama narrative of never losing your cool, a version of which is displayed by this very article where Guilbeault is criticized for "taking the bait" and "hyperbole" in the face of conservatives lying with abandon-- fatly, smugly, stupidly and wrongly.
There's that progressive "virtue signalling" again; we're smug in our moral superiority of "going high while they go low" as Michelle Obama described it. I for one am living in hopes that Steven will "lose it," repeatedly, because if we're still neck in neck with the wholly unscrupulous conservatives who OBVIOUSLY don't think climate change is even REAL for gawd's sake, with NO species exemption (unless you're deluded) WE are definitely losing.
The group "Extinction Rebellion" with their melodramatic expressions are eschewed, but they're also bloody RIGHT with the right sense of proportion here. How else do you get the attention of a populace in denial? Thinking people should be out on the streets with THAT impetus above all others.
Barry Saxifrage's charts on the link should be common knowledge. We're the worst in the world, worse even than the U.S. in our insular arrogance. Nice. Polite.
It's way past time to stop pulling our punches.

What would really be useful would be if Guilbeault would lose it on his own party - the ones that just released a budget that still includes massive fossil fuel subsidies.

Agreed that we need more XR.

A well researched and wonderful reply! I could not agree more.

Article: "The Liberal rebate retort lost further steam this week with the release of a report by Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer, which concludes most households will come out behind on the carbon tax. The reasoning was based on a big-picture look at Canada’s sluggish economy."

The first part is correct, the second part not quite.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO)'s finding that most households will come out behind on the federal carbon levy (not a tax, because Ottawa does not keep a cent of carbon revenues, though it does collect GST) is not new. Previous PBO reports have made the same finding.
The 1st quintile (bottom 20%) of households still comes out ahead in all provinces, even in 2030-31.
The 2nd quintile (next 20%) comes out ahead for most of this decade, dropping down to just about even in 2030.
So the bottom 40% of households come out just about even or ahead in 2030-31.

The reason that most households (i.e., the wealthiest 60%) will come out behind on the federal carbon levy is not based on "Canada’s sluggish economy". That conclusion is based on Canadians' reliance on the fossil fuel industry for employment and investment income.
Given wealthy households's greater investment (stocks, mutual funds) in fossil fuels, the PBO's modelling projects that their investment returns will suffer as the fossil fuel industry declines. Households invested more heavily in fossil fuels will see lower returns.

Likewise, households in oil-producing provinces will see a hit to their incomes as the fossil fuel industry declines. So wealthy Albertans invested and/or employed in the oilpatch will come off the worst.
A low-income energy-intensive Alberta family invested or employed in the oilpatch may well see a loss. A wealthy less energy-intensive Alberta family not invested or employed in the oilpatch may well come out ahead.

Any household can reduce its losses and even realize a net gain with rebate if it reduces its exposure to the fossil fuel industry. Precisely the purpose of carbon pricing.

So why is that very important context missing I wonder, not to even mention the overarching one of climate change?
There is far too much of this in the media, unnecessarily stoking political division just to keep the fight going for the ongoing lucrative public entertainment.
In TV programs or movies virtually all the drama is created unnecessarily by just such withholding of relevant information but in real life we disparage "too much information" as "melodrama."
Bring on the drama queens I say because if novelty is also a salient factor in being entertained, how about truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth for a change?

Households in the loest two income quintiles are struggling to keep a whole roof, one lightbulg on, and the pipes from freezing in winter.
No money for up-front costs of any weaning exercise.

It is interesting to see that the federal minister has engaged in “hyperbole” while Ford gets off unscathed in this. Every time he speaks to the media (rarely) he is full of phrases such as “no one has done more for this or that” and he is never challenged. I am not an apologist for the federal government, but a little equal treatment would be welcomed. Why Ford keeps getting the benefit of the doubt, even from the Observer, is beyond me. Ford is a disaster for the environment, plain and simple.

I keep saying this but it continues to pertain: I agree with Bill Maher that we now urgently need a "bastard for progressivism."
More than one actually; we need a pack of them.

Kind of a silly article. Ford lies all the time about the Liberals and it seems to be politically useful to him. Pierre Poilievre and Danielle Smith almost seem to have a policy of never letting the truth pass their lips. So here you've got someone characterizing themselves as basically on the Liberals' side on this, clutching pearls about a Liberal uttering what might be construed as a mild exaggeration. What?!

It was in any case a completely true statement. Guilbeault didn't say Ford had never taken a single action that would help fight climate change. Guilbeault said Ford had NO PLAN to fight climate change. That is obviously exactly true; Ford's actions with respect to climate change in no way constitute any kind of plan, much less a plan to fight it. He's taken one or two random actions that have been positive, presumably because those were the lobbyists/cronies/bribe purveyors who had his ear that day. And he's taken other actions that have been very negative. And none of it amounts to any kind of overall framework or anything coherent at all. Guilbeault told the exact truth.

And I've noticed this general pattern--the Conservatives have completely shattered the rules of decent discourse. They spout lies and groundless abuse and wild, over the top accusations of heinous crimes and all the pundits still treat them like they can be considered responsible adults participating in a normal political process. But if someone else says something intemperate about the Conservatives--even if it's true--the old rules of politeness are suddenly back. It's nonsense.

None of this is to say that the Liberals can be trusted to tell the truth. They lie plenty, and about important stuff. They lie about climate change in major, fundamental ways. But they don't lie about the Conservatives much. If anything they go easy, because the media get shocked if they start actually telling the truth!

"Sunny ways," remember?
Call it the Canadian version of the UN Security Council, that has no way to expel Putin ... or even keep him from chairing the council this year.