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Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a news conference on March 7, 2019 in Ottawa. If the current Trudeau regime has proven anything, it’s that the acorn really doesn’t fall far from the tree. Ballooning deficits? Check. Self-centred smugness? Oh, yes! A certain fondness for tossing Alberta’s economy under the bus? It almost seems programmed into their DNA.

But what I like best about the Trudeaus — pere et fils — is how their unbridled totalitarianism manages to engender such interesting, but one assumes unintended, social experiments. The elder, for instance, gave us the only —shades of Trump’s “wall”— peacetime implementation of the War Measures Act,which, for those of us who remember the October Crisis, wounded Canadians’ self-image as the nicest people on Earth. Not to be outdone, Trudeau the younger has blessed us with the Wilson-Raybould debacle,which will tell us, come October this year, whether Canadian voterscare more about virtue signaling — i.e. claiming to be pro-women and indigenous peoples — or actual policy, as in actually being pro women and said indigenous peoples.

Now, I don’t profess any professional knowledge of what might happen on October 21 st — the National Post’s Andrew Coyne would be the expert to address the current Trudeau government’s travails — but I do havea few questions about some unintended consequences of the recent budget, the part that proposes Canada’s first nationwide rebate/subsidy/call-it-whatever-you-like on electric vehicles.

For instance, while this proposal will no doubt spur further growth in zero-emissions vehicles, what interests me more is that it may finally answer the question that has long dogged pro- and anti-EV protagonists alike: Can EVs ever survive on their own merit? Or will zero emissions vehicles be sucking at the government’s teat forevermore?

Interestingly, I will have a front seat to this experiment since Ontario will be the Liberal Party’s Petri dish. Previous provincial governments, as everyone knows, ladled huge incentives on the EV purchaser, offering consumers as much as $13,000 for buying an electric vehicle. Premier Doug Ford, to much fanfare/controversy/outright derision, nixed all that. Predictably, the dissolution of the incentives hollowed out the EV market. What had grown, at its peak, to more than two per cent of Ontario’s new-car marketplace, was instantly reduced by some 80 per cent.

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The question now is:With the return of the incentive — albeit now federally administered and much reduced — will sales return to the previous breakneck pace? Or will the increase in EV sales be commensurate with the modest support the feds are willing to dosh out? If it’s the former, then there may yet be legs to this electric vehicle revolution.

If it’s the latter,it will be further proof that Ontarians were never actually shopping EVs, just the massive rebates that were on offer. If the Ginsu knives and Bowflex home gyms languishing in all our garages teach us anything, it’s that Canadians would probably buy coal-powered cars were they eligible fora $13,000 rebate.

What’s perhaps even more interesting is the Liberal’s choice of $45,000 as the break point for this subsidy — vehicles with a “manufacturer’s suggested retail price” greater than 45-large are not eligible for the federal rebate. While choosing $45,000 as the limit may seem politically astute — so as not seen to be a sop to rich Tesla buyers— it’s horribly obvious that no one in the Liberal finance department spent even a minute researching the actual price of electric vehicles. If they had, they would have quickly determined that $45,000 was a particularly unfortunate/inconvenient/market-altering cut-off.

To wit:While some of the new major players — Nissan’s Leaf and the Chevrolet Bolt, for instance —have base […]

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