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Ontario switching to automatic licence plate renewal, Ford says

Ford also announced a new anti-carbon tax bill
2021-10-04 Doug Ford TADH2 MH
Ontario Premier Doug Ford at Timmins and District Hospital on Oct. 4, 2021.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally appeared on The Trillium, a new Village Media website devoted to covering provincial politics at Queen’s Park

Over one million expired licence plates are on Ontario roads after the Tories did away with plate stickers and made renewal free before the 2022 provincial election, according to Ministry of Transportation data.

The 2022 announcement didn't mean drivers didn't need to renew their plates, just that it didn't cost anything. Without drivers staring down a $120 renewal fee, many Ontarians seem to have forgotten they still need to keep their plates up to date or face fines as high as $1,000. 

On Tuesday, however, Premier Doug Ford announced the government is automating the process. 

"We're getting rid of that, totally, registering your vehicle," he said. "We did the first step, getting rid of the sticker. Now we're getting rid of the registration. They'll be automatically re-registered so people won't have to worry about that at all."

The government needs to introduce legislation — dubbed the Get It Done Act — to make the change real. A bill will come "extremely soon," Ford said. The legislature returns after its extended winter break on Tuesday, Feb. 20. 

Ford's comments came in the middle of a separate announcement detailing the government's latest attempt to show its staunch opposition to carbon pricing. 

When the legislature returns, the government will introduce a new bill requiring any new provincial carbon tax or cap-and-trade system to be subject to a referendum. 

"We're giving the people of Ontario a veto over carbon taxes," Ford said. 

Ontario currently has two different carbon pricing systems: one for industry and another for consumers. 

Industry is subject to the provincially-imposed Emission Performance Standards program. The province sets carbon emissions limits and companies must either lower their pollution levels or pay penalties to the provincial treasury if they go over. 

The regime came into effect just over two years ago. Previously, industrial emitters in Ontario were included under the federal government's industrial pricing plan, and all the money collected went into federal coffers. Ford cancelled Ontario's cap-and-trade program introduced under the Wynne government in 2017. 

Regular people have to pay the consumer carbon tax at the gas pump. Ontario is one of four provinces without a consumer carbon pricing plan, meaning it's up to Ottawa to set the price and collect the revenue. The feds then send money back to consumers in quarterly cheques.  

Currently, the federal tax adds about 14 cents per litre of gasoline and is set to go up on April 1 to about 17 cents per litre. It'll continue to rise by about three cents per year until 2030. 

The new bill won't change anything on the ground. Ontarians will still pay the federal consumer carbon price at the gas station. It'll just make any attempt to introduce a made-in-Ontario carbon pricing scheme more of a political headache for future governments. 

Under the new bill, if a future provincial government wants to develop its own consumer price it'll have to choose between letting the people decide in a direct vote or repealing the bill to scrap the referendum requirement. 

Carbon taxes of all stripes have been a favourite Ford target since 2018. On Tuesday, he continued to try to tie Liberal Leader Bonnie Crombie to his longtime hobby horse. 

"People know where I stand on the carbon tax. I've opposed it from the very beginning. My record couldn't be more different than Bonnie Crombie. She's supported the carbon tax right from the start. She's the queen of carbon tax," Ford said, standing at a gas station in Mississauga, Crombie's home turf. 

Crombie, however, has "never made a statement about the carbon tax," she told CityNews late last year, saying it's "something I would study further."  

She also hit back in a press release that included a new nickname for the premier. 

"Let’s be clear: Doug Ford would sooner drag Ontario backwards just to enrich his well-connected insiders, than come up with a climate plan of his own. He’s cost Ontario families real money by cancelling proven programs like the electric vehicle rebate, conservation programs and incentives for energy-efficiency retrofits," she said. 

"Desperate Doug is clearly trying to distract from his repeated failures with grandstanding ploys about federal debates. If he was actually interested in hearing what Ontarians thought, he would have held a referendum before selling off our health-care system, the Greenbelt, and ServiceOntario."


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Aidan Chamandy

About the Author: Aidan Chamandy

Aidan Chamandy specializes in energy and housing. He can usually be found looking for government documents on obscure websites and filing freedom-of-information requests. He hosts and produces podcasts. Reach him anytime at [email protected].
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