PM creates Ottawa buzz

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau created some buzz in Ottawa this week.

He announced the Liberal government will enforce a national carbon tax on provinces and territories that do not implement a provincial carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system by 2018.

The carbon tax was announced by Trudeau at the same time provincial environment ministers were meeting to discuss the same topic.

This resulted in Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland storming out of the conference and with some engaging in a war of words with the prime minister.

Premier Brad Wall of Saskatchewan pointed out that during the 2015 federal election, Trudeau stated the federal government imposing a climate change plan on provinces would be "nonsensical" and demanded that the prime minister keep his word.

It is worth noting that British Columbia already has a carbon tax with rates set well above the entry carbon-tax rate proposed by Ottawa.

While the national carbon tax announcement captured most of the media attention, there was another policy change quietly made by the government that may well have far more troubling implications on middle-class Canadians attempting to buy a home.

The government intends to make changes with respect to mortgage qualifications that even the Department of Finance projects could lower home sales across Canada by close to 10 per cent in the first year.

The changes to mortgage qualifications from my perspective are concerning for a number of different reasons. 

Housing prices in Toronto and Vancouver have reached concerning levels, but recent policy changes by the B.C. government appear to be having an impact.

The changes announced by the federal government will penalize middle class home buyers in all regions of Canada.

These measures make housing less affordable as fewer families will be able to qualify for a mortgage. It would be better to encourage housing supply through measures such as increasing the threshold for the GST rebate on new home construction that would also help affordability and generate economic growth.

In defence of these policy changes, the Liberal Government argues they are concerned about rising Canadian debt levels.

However as the opposition would point out, adding billions of dollars of debt through increased federal deficit government spending as is currently the case creates the same problem only without generating any equity as can be created through home ownership. 

Allowing provinces to take action in specific hot spot regions such as the British Columbia government has done recently may be a more effective policy than a national change that will adversely impact many regions of Canada solely for the benefit of a few.

 As always I welcome your comments, questions and concerns on any matter before the House of Commons and can be reached at [email protected] or toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the critic for Environment and Climate Change.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

Dan  is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active Members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and also continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

Dan welcomes comments, questions and concerns from citizens and is often available to speak to groups and organizations on matters of federal concern. 

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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