New Priorities Needed in 2017

January 16, 2017

Later this week, President-elect Donald Trump will be officially inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States, and we’re beginning to see what shape his team and policies are going to take. Trump has made it very clear he intends to follow through on his campaign pledges to American workers and businesses by opening up the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for renegotiation.  He has also promised to lower corporate and income taxes.

Due to our highly integrated North American economy, there is little doubt that Canada will be sideswiped by this new wave of American protectionism that aims to create American jobs. Yet instead of coming up with a plan to protect Canadian jobs from the protectionist policies of the incoming Trump Administration, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau keeps implementing policies that are job-killers for Canadians. 

First there is the Liberal carbon tax, which Justin Trudeau and Ralph Goodale are trying to force Saskatchewan to administer.  I am proud to be from a province whose Premier is refusing to fold to the whims of urban Liberals who think that a carbon tax will somehow save the environment.  Other countries such as France and Australia have recently shelved their plans to put a tax on carbon because they agree it won’t work as intended and will only hurt job growth in the long run. 

What we do know is that a carbon tax will add almost 15% to our natural gas bills and more than 11 cents per litre at the pumps, increasing our heating and transportation costs.  Unlike in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, residents of our constituency must drive to work.  Hence a carbon tax will unfairly penalize all of us when we fill our gas tanks. 

These higher energy and gas prices also negatively affect Saskatchewan’s agriculture and resource sectors, which will result in job losses.  Business owners in Liberal Ontario and NDP Alberta are already speaking out about the repercussions as their carbon taxes came into effect on January 1 of this year.  In a province where 10,000 fewer people are working today than the same time last year, Saskatchewan doesn’t have any jobs to spare to pay for Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax. 

Then there is the Liberal CPP tax hike which, according to a 2015 study conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, could eliminate 110,000 jobs and permanently lower wages by 1%.  In addition, Justin Trudeau and his government have scrapped the hiring credit for small businesses and cancelled the scheduled reduction of the small business tax credit.  All of this is a recipe for a perfect storm for Canadian businesses and exporters as the U.S. works towards lowering its tax burden on businesses while the Canada is increasing ours.

Since NAFTA came into force, Canada has added 4.7 million new jobs to its economy and over $1 billion in trade crosses the Canadian-American border every day.  Any change that the U.S. makes to give its domestic businesses an advantage over others will necessarily affect us, and our Prime Minister is doing nothing protect our competitiveness within the North American market.  With one in five Canadian jobs directly dependent on international trade, Saskatchewanians and all Canadians are hoping that the Prime Minister and his government start to get their priorities right for 2017.