He haunts us still. Gordon Campbell, that is. The former premier may be packing his bags for London, but, for better or worse, he is leaving his tax polices behind.
We all know about the slender thread by which the controversial HST currently hangs. Less well-known but no less significant is Campbell's carbon tax, which jumped by more than a penny at the beginning of the month and now adds five-and-a-half cents to the cost of every litre of gasoline that motorists buy at the pumps.
Unlike last week's proposal by Metro Vancouver mayors to levy a two-cent gas tax to help pay for the Evergreen Line, the carbon tax accomplishes little. In fact, it now seems to have been less about improving the province's environment and more about improving Campbell's image, so he could cast himself as a Schwarzenegger-worthy green crusader.
While it's admirable that the B.C. Liberals cut personal and corporate tax rates to offset the extra burden created by the carbon taxes they heaped onto on gasoline and other fuels, the green levies simply aren't having the effect they were designed to have.
In the key area of automobile usage, for example, the higher pump price caused by the carbon tax was supposed to force B.C. motorists to drive less. But this hasn't happened, meaning there's been no benefit to the environment. Instead, British Columbians have simply had to divert more of their income to pay for transportation.
Thanks to Campbell's machinations, the B.C. Liberal government's entire energy policy is a mess. He stuck B.C. Hydro with bad deals forcing it to pay astronomical prices for alternative energy, and Hydro's billion-dollar "smart meter" program is an extravagant and needless exercise in eco-political correctness.
And let's not forget that, in a misguided desire to see the government become 'carbon neutral,' Victoria is forcing public institutions, such as school districts and municipal governments, to buy 'carbon offsets,' primarily from private corporations. The Fraser Health Authority, for example, has had to spend almost $1 million on such offsets.
Surely, this money would be better spent in reducing waiting times in the Emergency Room than on a program that amounts to little more than carnival shell game in which the consumer and taxpayer always seem to lose.