Ontario’s latest budget includes fines of up to $10,000 per day for gas station operators who don’t display government-mandated stickers about the price of the carbon tax. New legislation called the Federal Carbon Tax Transparency Act requires gas stations to display the sticker on each pump. The sticker shows the federal carbon tax adding 4.4 cents per litre to the price of gas now, rising to 11 cents a litre in 2022.
The legislation allows the provincial government to send inspectors to see if gas stations are properly displaying the stickers and sets out penalties for non-compliance. Individuals could be fined up to $500 each day, or up to $1,000 a day for subsequent offences. Corporations could be fined up to $5,000 a day, or up to $10,000 a day for subsequent offences. Obstructing an inspector would carry a fine of at least $500 and up to $10,000.
Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, who denounced the fines as “ridiculous” and “Not only is this a violation of freedom of speech, it will cost small business owners across the province who don’t want to take part in this government propaganda campaign. This should be denounced by all political parties as a new low for our political discourse,” Minister McKenna said in a statement.
The provincial Conservatives are against the federal carbon tax. At a speech this week, Premier Doug Ford said, “When you go to the ballot box [in the October federal election] think of your future. Think of the country’s future. Think of your children’s future, because we cannot accept this carbon tax.” Ontario is challenging the carbon tax in court this coming week.
Director of Communications for Ontario’s Energy Minister Greg Rickford said the stickers are about transparency. The carbon tax is expected cost to a typical household $258 this year and $648 by 2022. Ontario is one of four provinces, including Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick, where Ottawa imposed the levy because they opted not to impose their own pricing schemes on carbon emissions.
Duff Conacher, co-founder of the left-wing advocacy group Democracy Watch, called the stickers “propaganda” and that the stickers don’t mention carbon tax rebates.
Spokespeople for Suncor Energy, which operates Petro-Canada gas stations, and Husky Energy said they would comply with the legislation.