Is the federal government actually adding a green tax to pickup trucks?



A section on page 192 of the federal government’s new emissions reduction plan that refers to a “green levy” on pickup trucks has caught the attention of many Canadians.

Thousands of people, including many Conservative politicians, have not only read but shared a column titled “Trudeau planning a tax on trucks” that was published on the websites of Postmedia’s Sun newspapers on April 14.

The column, written by Kris Sims of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, focuses on a section in the latter half of the 271-page emissions reduction document that calls on the federal government to “broaden Canada’s existing Green Levy (Excise Tax) for Fuel Inefficient Vehicles to include additional ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle types, such as pickup trucks.”

Sims predicts levies ranging from $1000 on light-duty pickups to $4000 on super-duties, based on the current taxes that are applied to other types of vehicles that consume more than 13 litres/100 km, such as large SUVs and sports cars, when they’re imported or delivered to a dealer.

With all of that being said, the expansion of this green tax to pickup trucks is only a recommendation.

The federal government has not, as of writing this, initiated any process for making the legislative or regulatory changes that would be required.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault makes this point in a statement shared with RealAgriculture.

“Another example of a Conservative politician and organization spreading disinformation to serve their own partisan interests. This so-called fee on trucks doesn’t exist. It’s fear-mongering, plain and simple,” says the minister. “They pretend a recommendation from an independent advisory body in the annex of a report is government policy.”

While it is only a recommendation at this time, it’s worth paying attention to because not only was it included in the official government report, it’s coming from a source that carries a tonne of weight with the Liberal government — it’s own Net-Zero Advisory Body.

The Net-Zero Advisory Body was formed in 2021 as part of the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act. Its legislated mandate is to provide independent advice to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change regarding the government’s net-zero commitments.

“We cannot make decisions for Canada, nor can we issue binding advice,” the Advisory Body writes in the report. “Decisions on targets, actions, and other measures remain fully with the Government of Canada. In this context, we are confident our advice will be integral to federal decision-making.”

The advisory panel also recommends using the proceeds of the expanded levy to incentivize purchases of electric vehicles:

“Revenue from a broadened Green Levy could increase available funding for ZEV (zero emissions vehicles) incentives for individuals and organizations without limiting the fleet size and while encouraging smaller vehicles of all fuel types.”

If the government were to follow the advisory panel’s recommendation in this case, it would obviously add to the already rising cost of truck ownership due to federal policy.

Any new levy would also be somewhat redundant, with the carbon tax climbing from $50/tonne of CO2 equivalent (~11 cents per litre for gasoline) as of April 1, 2022 to $170 per tonne in 2030. It’s already going to become much more expensive to drive a truck, whether it’s for work or leisure.

From a political perspective, many will see this policy as having the largest effect on people who do not vote for the Liberals, as many rural Canadians are very reliant on pickup trucks for daily life.

While it’s only a recommendation, and definitely not a sure thing, the possibility of this tax being applied to pickup trucks is worth noting, as the recommendation for it comes from the very people the government is looking to for direction.

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