Conservative Party deliberately repeatedly attempted to mislead the people of Canada

John Rafferty MP
John Rafferty MP

John Rafferty MP THUNDER BAY – Leaders Ledger – This week Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada deliberately repeatedly attempted to mislead the people of Canada about the policies of Tom Mulcair and the New Democratic Party of Canada. Specifically, the Conservatives repeatedly made the claim that Canada’s New Democrats support a carbon-tax and would implement one if we were elected to govern. This is categorically false and they know it.

New Democrats support a carbon-tax no more than the Conservatives and we can prove it. Here are just some examples of what New Democrats have actually said about the prospect of implementing a federal carbon-tax or a cap-and-trade system.

May 23, 2008 – Toronto Star, ‘Carbon tax would hurt poor, NDP says’
The words of the late Jack Layton in 2008: “Those advocating a carbon tax suggest that by making the costs for certain things more expensive, people will make different choices,” Layton said. “But Canada is a cold place and heating your home really isn’t a choice.”

September 11, 2008 – CTV – Layton Calls Liberal Carbon Tax “Wrong”
“His carbon tax proposal is wrong, it won’t work and he knows it,” Layton said, the party’s Quebec candidates — some of them ecologists — nodding their approval behind him. “Taxing your families while letting big polluters do what they want is no solution and he knows it. It is simply — and I quote — ‘bad policy’ and he knows it.”

December 2011 – Tom Mulcair Leadership Campaign Backgrounder, “Taking the Next Step on Sustainable Development”
During the recent New Democrat leadership contest Tom Mulcair affirmed Jack’s position against a carbon-tax and in favour of a cap-and-trade system. “As Leader of the New Democratic Party, Thomas Mulcair would propose a comprehensive cap and trade plan that would build on the popular proposal New Democrats campaigned on during the last election under the leadership of Jack Layton.”

So that is where New Democrats actually stand on a carbon-tax; we have and will consistently oppose a carbon tax that will raise price of gas at the pumps and home heating costs for families, and we support a cap-and-system that puts the burden on heavy polluting businesses and industries while rewarding those who pollute less and investing money in improving efficiency in our homes, public buildings, factories, and cars. In short, we oppose a carbon tax and support enforcing the “polluter pays” principle though a cap-and-trade system that has been adopted by governments of all political stripes around the world. These are facts and I am certain that a strong majority of Canadians agree with enforcing the ‘polluters pays’ principle in this country.

So where then do the Conservatives stand on the carbon-tax versus cap-and-trade debate? They hold the same position as the New Democratic Party. It’s true and here is the evidence.

2008 Election Platform – Conservative Party of Canada, “The True North Strong and Free” (Page 32)
“Developing a Cap and Trade System to Cut Pollution and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: … We will work with the provinces and territories and our NAFTA trading partners in the United States and Mexico, at both the national and state levels, to develop and implement a North America-wide cap and trade system for greenhouse gases and air pollution, with implementation to occur between 2012 and 2015.” (

November 19, 2008 – Speech from the Throne, Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper.
“We will work with the provincial governments and our partners to develop and implement a North America-wide cap and trade system for greenhouse gases and an effective international protocol for the post-2012 period.”

September 2009 –Talking Points, Conservative Environment Minister Jim Prentice
“I think you would agree with me that encouraging businesses and individuals to change behaviour requires appropriate price signals. We believe that a carefully designed cap-and-trade system will send the appropriate price signals to encourage changes and ultimately help reduce emissions.”

The truth is that the only party that is speaking about a national carbon tax is the Conservative Party of Canada.

New Democrats believe that we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we support a cap-and-trade system to get the job done, and the Conservative Party agrees and actually campaigned in favour of a cap-and-trade system just as we did. I suppose a key difference is that once they were given a majority government the Conservatives decided to go back on their promise and have even weakened existing legislation to facilitate the development of natural resources in environmentally sensitive areas.

These are the facts, and it is undignified for Prime Minister Harper to knowingly state something to the contrary. Mr. Harper is diminishing his office and showing contempt not just for Tom Mulcair and New Democrats, but for the millions of Canadians that he is trying to manipulate by spreading these false claims.

John Rafferty MP
Thunder Bay Rainy River

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John Rafferty is the current Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay – Rainy River and a member of the New Democratic Party caucus in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Ontario. John was first elected to serve as MP in the 2008 federal election and was subsequently re-elected on May 2, 2011 with 48.1% of the vote.