Despite the gas-pump sticker fiasco that had Premier Doug Ford hitting the roof, Energy Minister Greg Rickford insists the controversial anti-carbon-pricing decals are still “a great idea.”
Rickford emphasized Wednesday the mandatory blue stickers warning “the federal carbon tax will cost you” are here to stay.
“We’re committed to letting the people of Ontario (where) these … increased costs to their gasoline … are coming from,” the minister said before a cabinet meeting.
“We still think it’s a great idea and we’re going to continue with it,” he said.
As first revealed by the Star earlier this month, the stickers are easily peeled off because they were designed for indoor use with an adhesive meant for metal instead of the vinyl cladding found on pumps.
That has led to vandalism across Ontario and embarrassment for the Progressive Conservative government.
Ford, whose family owns a decal company, said he was unhappy with the snafu and met with Rickford to demand answers.
“Can you believe that? It’s like the shoemaker’s daughter not getting shoes? They have to pull me off the ceiling when they hear the stickers are coming off,” the premier said last week.
Astley Gilbert, which was paid $4,954 for the 25,000 stickers, has not commented on the debacle.
With photos of flaccid and vandalized decals being shared on social media, Rickford suggested “a lot of readers from the Toronto Star are looking at this,” but most Ontarians are not.
“We don’t think it’s the epidemic that is implicit in that question,” he said.
“We’re looking into it. We also understand that (with) a number of the stickers, some attempts have been made to peel them off in the GTA and some other stickers have been put on top of them.”
Motorists across the province report seeing white rectangular splotches were the stickers, which became law on Aug. 30, used to be.
The minister acknowledged the need to “to validate and double-check the compounds involved in the adhesive and make sure that this doesn’t happen.”
“We don’t preside over the technical elements of what composes the adhesive so if there’s a problem there we’re reviewing it now. We’ll endeavour to resolve it quickly,” he said.
With minimum daily fines of $150 for gas stations that do not have the stickers posted, businesses are concerned about the vandalism.
“We’re taking a fair, responsible, and progressive approach to enforcement and stakeholders have received it very well,” stressed Rickford.
Both the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Independent Petroleum Marketers Association, which represents gas stations, have criticized the Tories for burdening businesses.
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The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has launched a constitutional challenge about the legality of forcing private companies to post political slogans because the decals do not explain any benefits from carbon pricing.
While the government ordered 25,000 “outdoor glossy laminate” stickers with “aggressive adhesive,” a frustrated Conservative source said they went with the 20 cent decals because they were the cheapest.
“The decision was made by people who no longer work here that we didn’t want a big price tag,” a Tory insider, speaking confidentially in order to discuss internal deliberations, said two weeks ago.