Back in June I wrote about the Ontario Conservatives plans to force gas stations to put politically torqued stickers on their pumps with misleading information about the federal Carbon Tax. With a fine of $10,000 a day for gas station owners who refuse to post the stickers, this heavy-handed move by the Ford Conservatives has been denounced by group like the Ontario Chamber of Commerce coming out against it. They have rightly pointed out that forcing them to put these stickers on their pumps violates their rights and freedoms.
If the motives behind this of this move (apparently to impact the Federal election in the Fall) wasn’t clear enough, that was driven home when the news came out that these stickers had to be in place by the end of August, a couple of weeks before the writ drops on the 43rd General Election. And given the news that we heard yesterday about the chill being put on environmental NGO’s for daring to talk about climate change, it’s doubly galling to see the Ontario government force this propaganda out the door just in time to take part in the election and that same debate.
So with the stickers in the mail as of last week, a new development came out on this story today, one that puts more evidence behind the apparent motives of this move:
First off, a tip of the hat to the Canadian Independent Petroleum Marketers Association (CIPMA) for trying to deal with a crappy situation that was simply not of their own making. They are stuck in a very difficult spot, and according to this Maclean’s piece, they decided to try to find a compromise. That compromise seemed like a reasonable one, especially if we are to believe the rationale that the Ford Conservatives put out about informing the public about the effects on the price of gasoline from the Carbon Tax.
The CIPMA proposal was a very straightforward and common sense one; put together a sticker that showed everything that goes into the price of gas. So far, what makes up the price of a litre of gasoline is a mystery to most consumers and is usually a part of a lot of debate, so the CIPMA’s proposal was to be completely transparent, putting it all in a pie chart on a sticker on the pump. And to remove any doubt about those numbers, they proposed using provinces own figures, straight off their website.
That seemed like a very reasonable compromise if your goal was truly to inform people about how the Carbon Tax will affect them at the pump. But that suggestion was shot down by the Ford Conservatives, rejected out of hand with no hint of potential compromise on the table. Why might that be? Well take a look at how that information would look in a pie chart:
Well look at that folks, the Federal Carbon Tax looks tiny compared to all of the other components that make up the average price of a litre of gasoline, especially when compared to other taxes already charged on that same litre. So why would the Ford Conservatives reject a compromise that is gives an accurate picture of the potential impact on the Federal Carbon Tax on that litre of gasoline? If they were being honest about their motives, there wouldn’t be a legitimate answer that would make any sense.
With these new developments and details, the motives of the Ford Conservatives here are all the clearer. As we already thought, these stickers are all about trying to mislead the voting public, help their federal Conservative cousins and do it all while using the power and finances of the Province of Ontario to do it. And if there were any doubts about what the Ford Team was doing before, this development should make it very clear what is going on here. Will it make an effect on the upcoming election? We’ll see but one thing that’s clear is that willfully misleading Canadians taxpayers’ dollars in an attempt to help turn an election into your favour is never a good thing for our democracy, no matter who is doing it. For a government that talks all the time about being “For the People”, you’d think that being honest with them would automatically be considered a given. But this is the Ford Conservative government, and as we’ve seen, that wouldn’t be consistent with this governments brand or approach.