Greens pledge carbon tax, corporate tax hike

Elizabeth May says a Green Party government would raise corporate taxes to 2009 levels, charge $60 a tonne for carbon emissions - and legalize pot.

Party would legalize and tax marijuana but also try to discourage use

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May unveils the Green Party election platform during a campaign stop in Toronto Thursday, April 7, 2011. ((Patrick Morrell/CBC))

A Green Party government would raise corporate taxes to 2009 levels and charge $60 per tonne of carbon emitted, but promises a revenue-neutral "green tax shift" that would cut EI and CPP contributions for both workers and employers.

Leader Elizabeth May was announcing the party's election platform in Toronto Thursday morning, a platform she says is fully costed.

The party wants to raise the corporate income tax rate to 19 per cent and introduce a carbon tax, but says the extra revenue would allow them to cut EI and CPP contributions by one-third. They would also eliminate income tax for people making less than $20,000 a year and give a carbon rebate to low-income earners, similar to the GST rebate.

"The first thing we offer is we reduce the deficit faster than the Conservatives, we bring in income-splitting to all Canadian families, which would include same-sex couples, a single mother with an adult child who is also making an income – in other words, a broad understanding of the meaning of family," May said. 

"At the back of our platform you'll find a fully costed budget that takes you out three years," she added. "We're a serious political party. If we were to form government tomorrow, these would be our priorities."

"Our goal is to be that voice of conscience, that voice of reason," May said.

The platform also includes:

  • a "toxic tax" based on the toxicity of emissions;
  • cancellation of tax credits for logging and mineral exploration;
  • legalization and taxation of marijuana;
  • a reduction in military spending and a focus on peacekeeping.

May says the party has submitted its budget to Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page because they're serious about getting the numbers right.

Page's office would say only "no comment" when asked to confirm whether they received the platform.

True to the party's name, the platform has a focus on environmental priorities, such as energy retrofits for low-income housing, promoting mass transit, a solar-energy plan and more funding for a national rail system.

May also promises a shift to organic farming, $15 million specifically earmarked to pay for scientific staff at Environment Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Health Canada, and a municipal fund to support cycling, sports and cultural facilities, and wastewater treatment.

"This is the strongest commitment to municipalities that you're going to see in any platform of any party," she said.

The platform also focuses on youth, promising tuition credits for students who participate in a proposed municipal work program and post-secondary education bursaries.

And although she pledges to legalize marijuana, the platform proposes $43 million a year for a national campaign to discourage smoking pot. The campaign would be modelled on current anti-tobacco programs.

Harper promises doubling of tax-free savings account

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper promised to double the tax-free savings account limit  to $10,000 from $5,000 after the budget is balanced under a Conservative mandate. The accounts were first announced in the 2009 federal budget. 

Harper was at a campaign event in Vaughan, Ont., with Julian Fantino, the former police chief who won the riding for the party in a November byelection. He will hold a rally in Hamilton, Ont., Thursday evening.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is in Quebec. In the riding of Brossard-La Prairie Wednesday night, Ignatieff told voters a Liberal government would start making repairs of the Champlain Bridge before the end of its first mandate.  

The Liberal leader said he would put in place a long-term solution, which would include a new bridge within 10 years.  

The Harper government announced in March that $158 million would be spent to repair and maintain the six-kilometre-long bridge that connects Montreal and its south shore suburbs. It is estimated that 60 million vehicles travel across the bridge each year. There have been reports that the bridge is in a severe state of deterioration.

Ignatieff will host a town hall with seniors in Laval, Que., Thursday morning, followed by a town hall in Hamilton, Ont., in the evening.  

NDP Leader Jack Layton was in Surrey, B.C., Thursday morning, where he focused on crime and community safety.  

He said if elected, the NDP would invest in crime-prevention programs and support the hiring of more police officers. The  NDP would also make gang recruiting illegal, and would make home invasions and carjacking stand-alone crimes.

"Gang violence is a national problem that requires Canadian leadership," he said.

The party estimated that the crime and safety measures would cost $250 million in 2011-2012.

Layton was scheduled to travel to Vancouver Island, where he will campaign with local candidates in Courtenay and Nanaimo. He is expected to finish the day with a rally in Esquimalt, B.C., Thursday evening.  

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe will spend the day in Baie-Comeau, Que., starting with a photo opportunity at a local restaurant, followed by a meeting with a support group for the unemployed and a news conference.