On August 27th, MP Brian Murphy decided to respond to allegations about the Green Shift made by local columnist, Dave Barnett. You can read his “rebuttal” at the link above, but what is most amazing is the reply published this weekend by Mr. Barnett, just days after Mr. Murphy’s attempted defense.
In Mr. Barnett’s most recent column, he refers to Brian Murphy as “our part-time MP.” That comment no doubt stirred a little curiosity in the public, as it did with us. Here is what we found out:
Before becoming an MP, Brian Murphy founded the Groupe Murphy Group lawfirm in Moncton. Oddly enough, he continues to practice law and reportedly even still makes appearances in court while sitting as an MP. This has led to some criticism in the public that he is a “part-time MP.”
On his firm’s website he even shares his campaign photo and lists being an “elected Member of Parliament” among his “Civic and Volunteer Activities.” While there is nothing illegal about splitting your time as the peoples’ representative and a legal representative, it does present a bit of mixed messaging given that voters are paying him about $150,000 per year.
It is disappointing that Mr. Murphy has been unable to achieve anything significant for his riding while his attentions have been divided. Some would attribute this to his being in opposition, but he stands in sharp contrast to his Liberal colleague Paul Zed who has managed to work with the government for the benefit of his constituents. (Winter 2006 Update, bottom of page 2)
With the permission of the author, we present here the full and unedited comments of Mr. Barnett as published in the Times & Transcript, August 30, 2008 p.D7. Mr. Murphy’s weak arguments are soundly refuted:
For those of you who enjoyed my column two weeks ago on the Liberal “Green Shift,” you are not alone. Our part-time MP Brian Murphy was unable to resist responding with a letter to this paper.
He repeatedly accused me of “ignoring facts,” and failing to mention every caveat of the carbon tax debate in a single article.
Since he has taken the opportunity to make his best case for his new tax on everything, I will gladly address his concerns.
On the front page of Wednesday’s newspaper we saw an article explaining that the price of milk must go up “wholly based on the effects of the rise of fuel costs throughout the supply chain.” Mr. Murphy’s carbon tax on everything affects even such rudimentary staples as milk for our children. Furthermore, it taxes repeatedly along the supply chain so that Canadians are getting hit at each stage of distribution.
Mr. Murphy points out that the Liberals’ Green Shift calls for no immediate increase in the gas tax. Peter Hadekel wrote recently for the Montreal Gazette that Mr. Dion’s plan “looks a lot more like a piece of tax reform than an environmental policy guaranteed to cut carbon emissions and combat greenhouse gases . . . But the most curious part of it, from an environmental perspective, is that it would exempt gasoline.”
Hadekel’s reasoning is that gasoline accounts for a large part of greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, Canada’s most recent inventories show that gasoline emissions equal almost twice the combined volume of diesel and aviation fuel (which the Liberals are taxing).
How can this Liberal plan be good for the planet when it ignores two thirds of Canada’s transportation emissions?
Our part-time MP also argues that it’s OK for his Liberals to raise taxes because any plan to put a price on carbon means bearing real costs. He then claims that his party’s new tax scheme “returns every single dollar to Canadians” — but if that is true, then there is no real environmental benefit.
As far back as page A1 of the May 24 Times & Transcript, David Coon, policy director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, said that “a ‘revenue neutral’ carbon tax will not help the environment or reduce carbon emissions.”
There are also significant facts that Mr. Murphy leaves out.
For example, two analysts looked at how Dion’s Green Shift proposes to use carbon tax revenues. Gary Lamphier and Adam Radwanski both calculated the same results: $9 billion in tax cuts, $4.5 billion in new social spending and only $1 billion on environmental initiatives, for a total of roughly $15 billion in new tax revenue.
Clearly this plan does not return every dollar but only 58 cents in tax cuts.
What is perhaps most appalling however is the mere $1 billion for the environment from a tax plan that comes in a bright green wrapper!
This plan is neither good for the environment, nor the economy. It’s no wonder Mr. Murphy stated at the conclusion of the Atlantic Liberal caucus meeting that, “I’m not going to pretend that there is 100 per cent agreement among our electorate that The Green Shift is the best idea to ever come down the pike.” (Aug. 7, page A5, Times & Transcript).
I wonder if Brian was still smilin’ when he listed “home retrofits, vehicle fuel efficiency standards . . . green infrastructure and public transit” as Liberal priorities.
In fact, these are key initiatives of the Conservatives’ Turning the Corner plan which he so heavily criticizes. The regulatory plan was even preceded by $60 billion in tax reductions just last fall and all Canadians saw the results in this year’s tax returns.
What is missing, however, in Mr. Murphy’s critique (and in Mr. Dion’s new tax plan) are targets for mandatory reductions in emissions, a provision for emissions trading, a requirement that forces the oil sands to capture their carbon, a ban on new dirty coal plants and the phasing out of oil sands subsidies.
All of these initiatives are included in the Conservatives green plan that was released this year. No mention of that from Mr. Murphy.
In conclusion, it should be pointed out that the TransAlta wind farm southwest of Moncton (Times & Transcript, Aug. 27, A1) represents the kind of green energy investment that the Conservative government is making across Canada. Just in the last week the Harper government announced funding for wind farms in Norway and Elmira, P.E.I. They also funded solar hot water projects in British Columbia and Alberta, while investing in new renewable hydro power plants in Cypress Creek, South Cranberry Creek and Kwalsa, British Columbia.
While others are talking, the Conservatives have been working to bring in the first mandatory regulations on the big polluters responsible for most of Canada’s emissions.
Rather than go after seniors and working families with a carbon tax on milk, the Harper government has chosen to mandate absolute reductions in industry and put the revenues into environmental investments where they belong.
Dave Barnett is a Moncton area Real Estate Investor, Business Finance Consultant and Sunbelt Business Broker. He shares the On The Issues column with Marie-Claude Blais in this space on alternating Saturdays.
Wow! A trial lawyer soundly refuted by a local businessman with a passion for the truth. Perhaps the Murphy name will not be enough to carry smilin’ Brian to re-election this time.