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article imageToronto Mayor Ford looking at eliminating 5-cent plastic bag tax

By Andrew Moran     Dec 30, 2010 in Politics
Toronto - After successfully following through on three of his many campaign promises, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is looking at eliminating the 5-cent plastic bag tax that retailers are mandated to charge.
During the Toronto municipal election, most of the mayoral candidates were neutral or against the five-cent bag tax, except for then Etobicoke Councillor Rob Ford. Ford called the tax a move to “regulate behaviour” and said he would put forward a “motion to eliminate the bag tax.”
The five-cent bag tax was implemented Jun. 1, 2009. It now has become six cents because of the Harmonized Sales Tax, which was introduced on Canada Day this year.
In an interview with the National Post, the Toronto Mayor said that he heard a lot of frustration from consumers over the holidays regarding the bag fee: “All of a sudden the five cents is really becoming a sticking point with people and it wasn’t really before, so I want to get rid of it.”
Critics argue that revenues from the nickel-per bag program do not even go to the municipal government or environmental initiatives. But rather the money is pocketed by businesses and it is up to them to donate the money to green energy or environmental causes.
A plastic bag in Toronto
A plastic bag in Toronto
However, proponents say the tax is helping the environment. In August, during the Heritage Toronto Forum, former Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone told Digital Journal that there are less bags on the streets and in the lakes and that “we proved the critics wrong.”
Toronto Environmental Alliance executive director Franz Hartmann told the Toronto Sun that bag tax benefits both the environment and taxpayers. Furthermore, Hartmann said the fee should be raised to 25 cents.
“I would argue we still have a ways to go and perhaps the best thing to do would be to increase the fee,” said Hartman. “I think that based on the success we’ve had to date, raising it to a quarter is probably not a bad idea.”
When will Ford put forward a motion? It is unclear at this point. The mayor’s press secretary, Adrienne Batra, said in an e-mail to Digital Journal: “At this time there isn't an official date for a motion or the like, but it’s something he would like to work on in 2011."
In regards to other city councillors in favour of eliminating the tax, Batra said there have not been any formal discussions “but certainly there would be others in favour of eliminating it.”
Update: Press Secretary Adrienne Batra has informed Digital Journal that Ward 4 Etobicoke Centre Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby will put forth a motion to "kill the bag tax." Ward 2 Etobicoke North Councillor Doug Ford will second the motion.
More about Rob Ford, Bag tax, Plastic bags
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