Editorial—The Real PBO Issue

It was recently found that the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO), had found an error in their carbon tax analysis, noting that they essentially included a carbon tax in their calculations that they shouldn’t have.

This is being hailed as a victory for the Liberals, who were unhappy that the analysis indicates carbon taxes will have an economic cost to Canada, and as nothing of import by the Conservatives, as the PBO itself claims that they expect the corrected analysis will be quite close to the current one.

But if you read their summary of the initial analysis,  whether this error makes a material difference or not is irrelevant when there’s a far greater error contained in the report. On page one of the report, they note “The scope of the report … does not attempt to account for the economic and environmental costs of climate change.”

Do note that it’s not just the environmental costs that are left out (which in an economic report would kind of make sense) but the actual economic costs as well.  And it’s not because they haven’t a calculation for that information; they even reference it in the footnote on that very paragraph.

I don’t know why it seems nobody has picked up on that little tidbit. The PBO is assuming in this report that there’s absolutely no cost to climate change.  This means nobody should be surprised that, when the very economic effects carbon pricing is supposed to mitigate aren’t included, Canada turns out a little worse for having carbon pricing.  And surely there’s someone in the Parliamentary Budget Office smart enough to realize this makes the report completely useless for prediction of any sort, which makes me wonder why they bothered to create it, never mind use it.

But then I noted something else. On the front page of the report, there’s this little notice, “This report was prepared under the direction of: Chris Matier, Director General.”  Looking a little deeper into that, it turns out Mr. Mathier was first brought into the PBO in 2008.  Of course, that doesn’t mean anything.  And while conservatives are known for inserting conservative leaning supporters as soon as possible to any governing bodies they can find (see AU’s BOG almost immediately after Jason Kenney’s election), we can’t just assume that would take place at the federal level under Stephen Harper. Never mind, forget I brought it up.

It turns out there’s another possibility.  The analysis of the carbon tax plan shows, regardless of the economic damage the plan does or does not do, that the majority of people will receive more money from it than they have to pay into it, meaning that only a minority, and as it turns out, the wealthy minority, will have to pay more than they receive.  Maybe it’s just that simple?  Or maybe they just found themselves with nothing to do, so to justify their existence, came up with something to keep themselves busy.  Regardless, when you hear Pollievre or Trudeau or anybody else talking about this report who isn’t saying “The entire thing is a hunk of garbage,” you know you can stop listening and go do something productive.  You’re welcome.

Meanwhile, in this week’s issue of the Voice Magazine, we’ve got some solid content, including the second part of Alek’s look into the world of organized crime and narcotics trafficking, a consideration of what microaggressions are (that has a great final paragraph), and a virtual tour of our own Athabasca, Alberta in this week’s Cities in Six.

Plus scholarships, events, recipes, and all our usual good stuff. Enjoy the read!