BRIAN KIERAN: NDP needs to kill tax-shifting scam

Even though retiring Auditor General John Doyle is Australia bound, he remains determined to save us from ourselves.

BRIAN KIERAN: NDP needs to kill tax-shifting scam

Even though retiring Auditor General John Doyle is Australia bound, he remains determined to save us from ourselves. His latest treatise is a damning exposé of a multi-million dollar Liberal shell game that was sold as a brave assault on greenhouse gases (GHGs).

In his report, An Audit of Carbon Neutral Government, Doyle reveals that B.C.’s carbon trading regime, established by former premier Gordon Campbell in 2007, is little more than a tax-shifting scam that dispenses corporate welfare to less-than-needy business barons.

Campbell had called on government agencies to reduce carbon emissions to zero. Making that goal a reality required some fancy political dance steps because you can’t operate hospitals and schools without leaving a carbon footprint. Presto, the Liberals created a Crown corporation, the Pacific Carbon Trust (PCT), to greenwash punitive carbon taxes for the benefit of savvy corporations that would reap the benefits.

Last August, in this space, I raised a GHG red flag reporting that the PCT had magically claimed to have achieved “carbon neutrality for the provincial government.” Behind this bravado lay the real story. In 2011 only 12 private enterprises bought carbon credits worth a paltry $54,000. The rest of the PCT’s $14-million budget was funded by taxpayers with precious resources siphoned from classrooms, hospitals and social services.

Greater Victoria’s school districts and the Vancouver Island Health Authority contributed more than $1.15 million to PCT. That’s money that should have stayed in local school and hospital budgets.

Now Doyle has found that the majority of offsets purchased to meet GHG targets in 2010 (the year he examined) “were not credible.” The audit examined two projects that accounted for 70 per cent of offsets purchased by government to achieve the claim of carbon neutrality: The Darkwoods Forest Carbon project in the Kootenays and the Encana Underbalanced Drilling project near Fort Nelson.

“Offsets can only be credible in British Columbia if, among other things, the revenue from their sale is the tipping point in moving forward on a project. It must be an incentive, not a subsidy, for the reduction of GHGs,” Doyle wrote. “However, neither project was able to demonstrate that the sale of offsets was needed for the project to be implemented.”

Doyle also commented on “the unprecedented level of interference” he encountered in the course of his investigation. “I was astonished to have to expend my office’s limited resources responding to an orchestrated campaign of delay and interference led by a public sector entity on behalf of market interests.”

The question now is: what do we do about this sham Crown entity? We know the Liberals have no appetite for leadership so close to the election. That leaves the NDP, the government-in-waiting.

Adrian Dix should be all over this when he assumes the premiership. Giving rich corporations tax-generated handouts to fight GHGs should be politically offensive to the NDP. So far, all we’ve seen is a testy letter to PCT from NDP finance critic Bruce Ralston who claims the Crown corporation hired a PR firm to harass Doyle. Mercy, call 911.

That’s it? Finger wagging? The Trust should be dismantled. I wonder if Dix will have the political cajones to do that? I suspect he won’t. I fear the PCT will survive and its revenue windfalls will be steered away from the corporate welfare bums toward a bunch of equally undeserving goofy green initiatives. M

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chelsey Moore’s character Chloe in the upcoming virtual reality game Altdeus: Beyond Chronos. Screengrab
Vancouver Island actress finds success in a virtual world

Black Creek’s Chelsey Moore lends her voice to a new video game set for release in December

Ceramic artist Darrel Hancock working on a clay jug in his home studio in Qualicum Beach. (Submitted photo)
Qualicum Beach potter Darrel Hancock celebrates 40 years in business

‘It’s wonderful to do what you love and make a living at it’

Artist Daniel Cline discusses his sculpture, Harmony Humpbacks, during the June 20 walking tour of Oak Bay’s 2019 ArtsAlive sculptures. Harmony Humpbacks was purchased by Oak Bay as the 2019 people’s choice winner and is permanently installed at the Beach Drive entrance to Willows Park. (Kevin Murdoch Photo)
Influx of donated art a ‘fantastic problem to have,’ says Oak Bay mayor

Oak Bay goes from zero to 10 permanent art pieces since 2015

Dover Bay Secondary School student Victoria Hathfield’s poem <em>Dear Santa</em> appears in<em> Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas is in the Air</em>. (Photo courtesy Darren Lee)
Nanaimo high schooler has first poem published in ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’

Victoria Hathfield’s ‘Dear Santa’ appears in new Christmas-themed edition of anthology series

Nanaimo graphic designer Amy Pye has written and illustrated her first children’s book, <em>G is for Grizzly Bear: A Canadian Alphabet</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Nanaimo graphic designer releases first children’s book

Amy Pye teaches the Canadian alphabet in ‘G is for Grizzly Bear’

The Vancouver Island Symphony’s Back Row Brass Quintet – including trumpeter Mark D’Angelo, tuba player Nick Atkinson and French horn player Karen Hough (from left) – were scheduled to tour the Nanaimo area with Christmas Under the Big Tent, but the concert series has now been cancelled. (Photo courtesy HA Photography)
Symphony brass quintet’s Christmas concert series cancelled

Performances were to happen at venues in Parksville and Lantzville next month

The Sheringham Point Lighthouse, near Shirley. (Contributed - Lee-Ann Ruttan)
New book shines a light on Sheringham Point Lighthouse

Publication examines history, lightkeepers, and volunteer society

Victoria-based guitarist Eric Harper performs at the Port Theatre on Nov. 27. (Photo credit Tatum Duryba)
Classical guitarist to play at the Port Theatre

Eric Harper to play new songs composed during the pandemic

A sample of some of Lou-ann Neel’s jewelry.
Lou-ann Neel wins the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art

Originally from Alert Bay, Neel’s family is steeped in renowned Kwakwaka’wakw artists

I-Hos Gallery manager Ramona Johnson shows some of the paddles available at the retail outlet. Photo by Terry Farrell
I-Hos Gallery celebrates 25 years of promoting First Nation artwork

K’ómoks First Nation-based outlet has art from all over the country

Most Read