On Liberal carbon tax hikes and Conservative excise tax cuts

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities put out this release today:

FCM Campaign Reality Check

Conservative Diesel Tax Cut proposal does nothing for transit riders, systems

A two cent cut in the excise tax on diesel fuel is worth $ 9.2 million per year to Canada’s transit systems – less than one quarter of one percent of their $ 4.8 billion in annual operating costs (Source: Canadian Urban Transit Association, 2007).

The proposed cut will cost the federal treasury $600 million per year. Less than two percent of those dollars, or one dollar in 60, will directly benefit transit systems.

A Strategic Counsel survey released last week showed that 8 in 10 Canadians think the federal government should dedicate more of its fuel tax revenues to repairing and building public transit systems. This announcement does not touch on investment needs.

Six in 10 Canadians say they would be more likely to take public transit if service was improved. The excise tax cut will do nothing to get more buses on the road or improve existing commuter rail service.

One in five Canadians are ready to switch to public transit because of the high price of filling up their cars. But most urban transit systems are at or beyond capacity at peak hours. New federal funding – not marginal tax cuts – are needed to help Canadians make the switch from cars to transit.

The priority for transit systems are for new investments, not cuts to the fuel tax.

For more information, contact: Maurice Gingues, FCM – (613) 907-6395

The mayor of Ottawa sent the following email out to all of the major city mayors across Canada:

The excise tax cut announced today by Stephen Harper was targeted towards farmers and truckers. However, as a side benefit, it helps municipalities which use diesel fuel for their buses and other forms of mass transit. The FCM complains that more could be done for transit costs by the federal government, however, today they were handed an unexpected bonus.

Ottawa politics…

…but of the local variety.

Stephen Harper and the federal Conservative Party recently delivered a number of tax relief measures to Canadians. However, locally and provincially, it has yet to be seen if these other levels of government will rush to fill the gap and squeeze Canadians to fund their projects. Local Ottawa city councillor Jan Harder for example is raising the alarm on the fact that the federal government isn’t providing the municipality of Ottawa with enough of your federal tax money to fund local infrastructure projects.

This week, Harder defended her tax friendly position by writing in the Barrhaven Independent that “I did not run as a tax fighter in the last election…”

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However, on her 2006 re-election website, in her “On The Record” section, she claims this very quality in big bold red letters. Her claim as a “Taxfighter” exists on her website to this day.

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Quite the contradiciton, no?

The big debate in Ottawa these days is the city budget and this councillor seems to sit on whichever side of the tax debate suits her at the given moment.

UPDATE: Harder weighs in on city spending on services versus Mayor O’Brien’s “zero means zero” pledge in this recent CFRA interview. Unfortunately, it appears that spending and higher taxes will win out if Harder gets her way.