Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Liberal Policy Series #2: Giving Green an Advantage: GST Cut for Environmentally Friendly Products (Peterborough Young Liberals Policy)

Not too long ago, I wrote a post talking about a policy I am very passionate about: Enforcing Standards of Practice for Canadian Mining Companies Operating Abroad. I strongly encourage you to read that if you missed it, because I think it's hugely important for Canada's reputation in the world and for us serving as a prominent example on human rights.

I also mentioned that the particular policy I authored on that issue was passed as official Ontario Young Liberals policy at the Sumer Fling event in North Bay (August, 2007). However, there were 4 other policies that were passed then too and I thought it would be good to let some of the individuals who contributed to those policies to have a chance to tell you about them as well.

So this is the second post in hopefully a series of 5 as I have contacted some of the individuals who contributed to the other policies that were passed and have received some positive responses back so far. Therefore, I hope you will see something up for the other 3 soon. In each case, I will post word for word what I have been provided by the authors of the policy. In that way, you can read about them in their own words.

I think these policies need to get more promotion then they have been getting and at the same time any policy could probably make use of some constructive feedback. So for each policy, feel free to give your thoughts. I think in all cases the ultimate goal is get the Liberal Party (either in Ontario or the federal party or both) to adopt them as official party policy.

So the next policy (#2 of 5) that is being promoted here today is called "GST Cut for Environmentally Friendly Products" and was authored by the Peterborough Federal Liberal Youth Association. Few Liberals have accomplished more in such a short time than this Peterborough club. The President, Jonathan Pinto and the policy chair Kelly Jamieson are huge credits to the Liberal Party. They have been especially productive on the policy front, going so far as to have one of their policies on bilingualism become an Liberal Party of Canada prioritized national party policy in December 2006 at the Montreal Biennial & Leadership convention.

So what you see below is the submission I was provided by policy chair Kelly Jamieson on the policy that was passed this past summer at the OYL Summer Fling in North Bay.

Giving Green an Advantage: GST Cut for Environmentally Friendly Products

The “race to the bottom” is a real concern when it comes to the products Canadians consume. Typically items that yield higher profits for business have cost the environment a great deal of damage both in production and after sale use. Manufactures react to public pressure as exemplified by the crackdown on CFC’s, but, Canadians should want the businesses we buy from to be proactive. Liberals understand that there is wealth we can make through going green in our daily lives: a cleaner environment for all and a marketable advantage for business. We need to start a “race to the top” amongst the producers we buy from.

The Conservative Party’s recent ecoAuto program has proved to be more politics than action on the environment. New car owners get a rebate to replenish money they have already paid to the dealer; we are indirectly compensating producers instead of the consumers. This program has, however, demonstrated that manufactures will make more environmentally friendly products if they believe they can make a profit. The ecoAuto approved list has been expanding every year and now the hugely popular Honda Civic will be eligible in 2008. Removing taxpayer subsidization from the equations is the key to making this kind of producer response sustainable.

A consumer will use thousands of pounds of products throughout his or her life. The manufacture, use and disposal of everyday items has a profound effect on the environment. If a producer were to make a product that is top of its class in environmental friendliness in manufacturing in Canada or abroad, ensure a neutral effect when in use and an assurance of green biodegradation, then the Canadian Government should drop GST against this item and award it with a seal of approval. This measure will reduce the point of sale cost to consumers and gives the manufacturer a more marketable product. No tax funded rebate necessary; this will be a real market transaction.

Products that are more marketable as a result of being ecofriendly leaders create a race to the top. The government will control what products are GST exempt and make sure that the bar is raised higher so that business will continue to do the right thing as technology and cost improvements make a better product. This investment on the part of business can result in higher sales volume and a betterment of their brand with the backing of the Canadian Government. Consumers will have the opportunity to save money buying green. The savings will be tangible for family shoppers; this exemption being applied to a weeks worth of groceries or even a single box of diapers. It will add up quickly.

After the Conservative GST cut for no apparent reason, we can appreciate cutting more for a good reason: going green in our daily lives. Being green has to become part of Canadians’ daily lives, and that is why I am pleased that the Ontario Young Liberals have adopted this policy.

- Kelly Jamieson, Policy Chair, Peterborough Federal Liberal Youth Association

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wilson said...

Kelly, while an admirable idea, it is an administration night mare.
Keeping the records straight, and the products lists up to date, (not to mention the race for lobbying to get your product gst free, a cost that would be tacked onto the product) would cost taxpayers/consumers billions.
From a govt spending point of view, rebating consumers for purchasing eco friendly products is less costly.