Opposition says province's new carbon tax stickers for gas pumps are 'propaganda'
500 stickers about carbon tax pricing have been sent to gas pumps across the province
New carbon tax stickers distributed to gas stations across New Brunswick by the provincial government are being described by opposition parties as "propaganda" and "politically motivated."
Liberal MLA Denis Landry accused the Blaine Higgs government of wasting tax dollars on stickers he believes carry an anti-carbon tax sentiment.
"I think it's really propaganda," Landry said. "They're using the people of this province's money to ask, to tell the people who own gas bars to put this on their pump as information."
The stickers, titled "Federal Carbon Tax: At the Pumps," explain how the federal carbon tax will increase from 4.42 cents per litre of gasoline in 2019 to 11.05 cents a litre in 2022. It also features comparable figures for diesel.
But Landry said the stickers don't include information on federal rebates to compensate for increased carbon costs.
Stickers look mandatory
He said the stickers look like they're mandatory to use, and people will listen because they are coming from government.
"I don't like it at all," he said.
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Green Party Leader David Coon agreed, saying the stickers are "a propaganda campaign" that's "politically motivated." He said the stickers are lacking information about the refund or consequences of climate change in New Brunswick.
"It's disappointing in particular that the premier is falling down the same path that Doug Ford has opened up with his strategy to sticker gas pumps in Ontario," Coon said.
People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin hasn't seen the stickers, but he said they should also include the rebate program, as it's information the public can use.
Austin said he doesn't have any issue with government putting information like this out to the public.
"At the same time, it's got to be comprehensive," he said. "You got to have all the information out there."
At the end of the day, what we're doing is, we're discussing a federal initiative that is being imposed upon New Brunswickers.- Energy Minister Mike Holland
Energy and Resource Development Minister Mike Holland said the province spent about $2,500 on 500 stickers that have been sent out to gas stations across the province.
He said the stickers are optional.
"We have provided them and what they do with them is at the discretion of the retailer," he said.
Holland said the stickers are an effort to inform the public about the federal government's latest carbon tax and has nothing to do with the upcoming federal election this fall.
"Whenever you're dealing with a tax of any way, shape or form, particularly one that increases and hits us in something that's so very necessary as fuel to get back and forth from point A to point B, we feel it's important to be able to explain to New Brunswickers exactly where their money is going," he said.
Holland said the new federal tax, which came into effect on April 1, was unfairly imposed on New Brunswickers and does little to offset our carbon footprint.
"At the end of the day, what we're doing is, we're discussing a federal initiative that is being imposed upon New Brunswickers," he said.
Stickers similar in Ontario
In Ontario, Doug Ford's government is doing the same.
The government there said it's spending about $5,000 to create 25,000 similar stickers depicting the costs of carbon pricing on consumers, and it has ordered gas stations around the province to display them.
In Ontario, gas station operators who don't display the government-mandated stickers could be fined up to $10,000 per day
Higgs meets with Ford
Higgs met with Ford two weeks ago to discuss their shared opposition to the federal carbon tax.
The two premiers have both been vocal in their opposition to the tax, which Ottawa imposed earlier this year on four provinces that didn't have their own, federally approved price on carbon.
New Brunswick is one of four provinces upon which the federal government imposed the carbon tax because it opted not to have its own pricing scheme on carbon emissions.
With files from Jacques Poitras, the Canadian Press