Doug Ford’s budget adviser praised carbon pricing in 2016

The chief budget adviser to Ontario’s anti-carbon tax premier once told Canadian senators that putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions is “the single most important thing that any government can do to transition to a low-carbon economy.”

Benjamin Dachis, now Premier Doug Ford’s director of policy, budget and fiscal planning, was supportive of a carbon price when he testified at a Senate committee on Parliament Hill in November 2016. At the time, Dachis was associate director of research at the C.D. Howe Institute, a Toronto-based think tank.

“The reason I’m advocating a carbon price is that we, as a society, have made it a clear priority to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Dachis told the standing committee on energy, the environment and natural resources.

“Once your goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by far the most efficient way to do so is through a price on carbon,” he said.

Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party was also in favour of carbon pricing before Patrick Brown resigned as leader and Ford led the party to victory in June’s provincial election. Ford campaigned to cut the cost of gasoline by axing the cap-and-trade system introduced by the previous Liberal government in 2016, a promise he kept when he moved to scrap the system in early July.

But unlike Brown, Ford also vowed to fight the federal government’s carbon price plan, which includes a tax on fuel and a credit-trading system for large industrial emitters. Intent on ensuring each province and territory has a carbon price system in place by 2019, Ottawa announced last week that it will impose its own pricing plan in Ontario over Ford’s resistance. Starting in April, the $20-per-tonne levy will also apply in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick. It will go up $10 each year until it hits $50 per tonne in 2022, when it is expected to increase gasoline costs by 11 cents per litre.

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