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Sam Cooley

Political survival pushed Wynne to back off raising gas tax, panelist says

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne ignored the advice of key advisors when she backed off their suggestion to raise the price of gas by 10-cents-per-litre. The call for higher taxes comes with the need to address increasing gridlock in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area. (GTHA). The “gridlock crisis” in the GTHA costs the economy $6 billion each year, according to a 2013 estimation by Glen Murray, minister of transportation. Andy Manahan, who sat on the panel, said he thought it was somewhat surprising that Wynne “backed off” raising the gas tax, a tool he said is good for raising revenue. The 13-person panel has since disbanded. Its members were government-appointed. The Chair was paid $900/day up to $90,000 over the span of three months, according to identical figures published in media reports. The panel's report from last December supported a “gradual increase in gas tax” to fund projects such as “The Big Move,” a $50-billion amalgamation of transit/infrastructure projects expected to span 25 years. For example, "The Big Move" includes both subway and LRT expansion. At the pump, Ontarians currently pay 14.7 cents of tax on each litre of gas purchased. This figure has been the same for over a decade, but could have gone up nearly 70 per cent in eight years if the gas tax was supported by a majority at Queen's Park. Political Expediency Increasing gas tax was politically unpopular amongst both the Tory and NDP caucus. For example, Tim Hudak's Facebook page was regularly alight with statements such as: “"How much more will you have to pay when Kathleen Wynne raises the cost of gas by 10 cents-per-litre?" Manahan said there's “blame” on all the parties why the raise in gas tax is no longer being considered. “I think no matter who the premier was, no matter… Read More