Trudeau needs to stop threatening a grocery tax and make life more affordable by dialling back his own taxes

Franco Terrazzano: Trudeau must drop his grocery tax threatHere’s political irony to ponder while you’re in line at the grocery store waiting to pay your ever-increasing bill.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s thinking about making groceries cheaper by imposing a new tax.

Brace yourself because there’s more irony.

The House of Commons already passed legislation that would make food less expensive. In fact, the House passed the legislation twice. But unelected senators are stalling the bill and the prime minister isn’t pushing it.

Here’s what’s happening:

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“We will take further action and we are not ruling anything out, including tax measures,” Trudeau said.

What do you think Trudeau means when he threatens “tax measures”?

Trudeau means he may give in to New Democratic Leader Jagmeet Singh’s demands and put “in place an excess profit tax” on grocery stores.

Going after greedy rich guys – to paraphrase Singh – may seem appealing, but what do the experts say?

“The last thing we want to do is put on a tax that people then just pass along to the consumers.”

No, that wasn’t free-market economist Milton Friedman. That was Trudeau, last year, when CBC asked if he would consider the NDP’s grocery tax.

What changed?

The economic realities Trudeau first described haven’t changed. If the feds impose a new tax on companies that sell food, those new costs will be passed on to you at checkouts.

What changed is that Trudeau’s sliding in the polls and grasping at bad policies.

Meanwhile, an actual opportunity to make food more affordable is ready and waiting.

A day after Trudeau threatened a grocery tax, the Parliamentary Budget Officer released a report about expanding the carbon tax exemption on farm fuels. That would save Canadians about $1 billion through 2030.

The federal government doesn’t currently collect carbon taxes on diesel or gasoline used on farms. However, the carbon tax costs farmers thousands of dollars for the propane and natural gas they use to dry their grain and heat their barns.

MPs from all parties already voted to fix this by expanding the carbon tax exemption for farm fuels. Twice. But senators keep holding up the legislation.

Trudeau could send a text message and pass this through the Senate tomorrow. Instead, the Senate keeps stalling this carbon tax relief that could have already saved taxpayers almost $100 million.

Canadians also pay more for food because the feds make the truckers who deliver our food pay more for diesel. In fact, federal taxes alone cost truckers more than $260 every time they fuel up their big rigs.

And that big tax bill is getting bigger, courtesy of Trudeau’s carbon tax hikes.

Trudeau recently imposed a second carbon tax through fuel regulations and has committed to cranking up his original tax every year for the next seven years. By 2030, Trudeau’s two carbon taxes will cost the average family more than $2,000 every year, even after rebates.

Instead of hammering Canadians with a grocery tax, Trudeau should make food more affordable by scraping his carbon taxes.

And if Trudeau really wants to stick it to greedy corporations, he could stop giving them big buckets of taxpayer cash.

That means no more giving Loblaws $12 million to buy fridges. Or giving multinational automakers Volkswagen and Stellantis about $20 billion. Or announcing $420 million for Algoma Steel, $700 million for Transat, $295 million for the Ford Motor Company, $110 million for Toyota, $41 million for Honda and $372 million for Bombardier.

The last thing Canadians need is another tax. It won’t make groceries more affordable. Another tax will make groceries more expensive.

Trudeau needs to stop making threats about grocery taxes and make life more affordable by dialling back his own taxes.

Franco Terrazzano is the Federal Director and Kris Sims is the Alberta Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

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