TODAY’S QUESTION: Should the federal government increase subsidies as a way of encouraging people to buy electric vehicles?
TRAVIS ASHLEY (Green): Since we will ban the production of internal combustion vehicles by 2030, it will give the market a clear and responsible time frame to gear up or gear down according to the transition. The inevitability of this change should be taken as an opportunity to lead the way in productivity. Exempting buyers from the federal sales tax will promote the people to switch. There is, however, a larger scheme to this and that is subsidizing efforts towards a national transportation strategy. Fostering light rail and electric bus links will not only decongest our cities, it will allow people to move around with ease and affordability. Redirecting fossil fuel subsidies will pay for this, and more.
JOHN BARR (People’s Party of Canada): No, for several reasons. Subsidies translate into an increased tax burden on working Canadians, and spending taxes to increase the size of government is contrary to our core platform and values. We oppose a larger government, and increasing the debt load on hard working Canadians. The PPC approach will reduce your taxes, and with this additional income, the taxpayer will ultimately decide what to purchase for themselves. It may be an electric vehicle, a mountain bike, or whatever mode of transportation addresses the individuals’ concern for a greener environment. The market for an electric vehicle should be allowed to develop without interference from the government. As stated in our “Global Warming and Environment” policy, available at peoplespartyofcanada.ca, a People’s Party government will: “Abolish subsidies for green technology and let private players develop profitable and efficient solutions.”
STEPHEN FUHR (Liberal): In the last Parliament, the government provided a $5,000 rebate on a new electric vehicle or a $2,500 rebate on a new hybrid. Moving forward, it is my understanding a re-elected Liberal government will provide a 10% rebate to a maximum of $2,000 on used zero emission vehicles. We will also install 5,000 charging stations across the country to make getting around easier and to ease range anxiety. Starting in 2023, when we invest in public transit, we will require it to be used to support zero emission buses and rail. Climate change is a tangible threat and low or zero emission vehicles are part of the solution.
TRACY GRAY (Conservative): A Conservative government will work to reduce emissions in the transportation sector by closing the gap between conventional and zero-emission vehicles and removing barriers that slow down the transition that is already occurring. Our “A Real Plan to Protect the Environment” focuses on technology, not taxes. We will work with provinces and territories, businesses auto manufacturers, and industry experts to develop faster charging electric vehicle batteries with increased single charge travel distances, work on the environmental challenges of recycling used batteries, and work on deploying the necessary charging or refueling infrastructure to accommodate a changing fleet.
JUSTIN KULIK (NDP): Absolutely. We can not ask people to make changes overnight that we don’t support ourselves. A more sustainable future involves getting gas-powered cars off the road, and we will not be able to move towards this future without giving the public means to acquire these electric vehicles. It is important to add however, that electric vehicles are just one tool in our arsenal for low-carbon transportation. The solution to reduce carbon emissions is not a one word answer, and will require work in multiple areas. Investing in public transit and electrification of public transit fleets by 2030 are other tools that are desperately needed as well.
DAN ALBAS (Conservative): As a riding with two copper mines, the trend towards more electric vehicles (which can typically use up to four times the amount of copper than a regular car) on the road is helpful to an industry which employs many in Princeton and Logan Lake. One of the reasons for buying an electric vehicle is the long-term cost savings from not buying gasoline, this savings alone is substantial. I think we also need to look at why the person who can afford to purchase a $50,000 EV brand new is rewarded with a rebate when there is no tax incentive for someone looking to buy a used electric vehicle. If you can potentially make used electric vehicles more affordable, that also helps an existing EV owner upgrade again. In my view, we need more electric cars on the road, but let’s find ways to help those who cannot afford the costs of a new EV with some tax incentives on used electric vehicles.
ALLAN DUNCAN (People’s Party of Canada): Electric vehicles are a preferred option for some people. The People’s Party would like to have as many options available to people as possible and allow markets to decide the winner(s). So, to focus mainly on electric vehicle subsidies would counter our commitment to more open markets. The PPC tends to prefer tax breaks to subsidies as a way to offer incentives. In consideration of other ecological opinions, some people have concerns about batteries’ ecological damage and gas efficiency is improving dramatically in conventional vehicles. Perhaps, if money is to be spent it would be better allocated to improved infrastructures supporting public transportation. I may change my mind if Tesla begins making mini-vans though.
ROBERT MELLALIEU (Green):Yes. However, the most efficient way to transport people is by mass transit. All levels of government must begin to create cities and towns designed for people, not cars. Hydro Rail is a new concept that is ripe for use in the Okanagan. One of the most significant expenses of building light rail transit is electrical infrastructure. Hydra Rail uses hydrogen gas stored on the train. The hydrogen is produced at main stations along the rail. There only needs to be electrical at the central station that produces the hydrogen, thus reducing costs. This type of advanced train is an example of the modern 21st century projects we could build and utilize in this valley — not only reducing our CO2 but travel times, and the need for cars.
MARY ANN MURPHY (Liberal): Consumers are increasingly turning to zero emission cars as eco-friendly transportation solutions. As more people buy zero-emission vehicles, there will be a growing market of used vehicles for sale. To make buying a used zero-emission vehicle more affordable, a Liberal government will expand the incentive that already exists for buying new zero-emission cars. This will provide a 10% rebate on a used zero-emission vehicle up to a maximum value of $2,000. As more consumers purchase zero emission vehicles, we must ensure infrastructure support is in place. To make using zero-emission vehicles easier, we will move forward, in partnership with industry and communities, to install up to 5,000 charging stations along the Trans Canada Highway and other major road networks.
JOAN PHILLIP (NDP): Absolutely. When we see this global movement that is inspired by our young people, like Greta Thunburg, we know that our government needs to do so much more to tackle the growing climate emergency. Subsidies for electric vehicles as well as massive investments in public transit will be important policy instruments at our disposal.