Liberals reject scrapping Drive Clean, refuse to repay illegal taxes

QUEEN’S PARK – The Liberals have rejected the calls of the Ontario PC Caucus to include a credible plan in their fall economic statement to scrap Drive Clean as they continue make record profits from the program by forcing Ontario drivers to overpay for emissions tests, PC Environment Critic and Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris said today.

“As I have pointed out repeatedly in the House, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1998 that profits made off of revenue-neutral programs, like Drive Clean, can be deemed an illegal tax and repayable. So I am surprised that the Liberals stated in their fall economic statement that they will only ‘consider changes’ to the program,” Harris said.

“The time for review is long over. The Liberals should pay back the millions of dollars that they’ve illegally taken from Ontario drivers and immediately present a plan to scrap Drive Clean altogether,” Harris said.

The Drive Clean program was never intended to make a profit, but over the last two years the Liberals have racked up a $19-million surplus, as the number of vehicles failing emissions testing increases.

In January 2013, the Liberals replaced the previous tailpipe test, which is a true measure of emissions, with a new computerized test that is less reliable and more prone to error. Now the failure rate of the program is on the rise, not because of emissions-related problems, but because of a computer glitch.

“In fact, nearly 130,000 vehicles fail the test each year. Some drivers are forced to pay for up to three tests before they can get a conditional pass. No wonder the Liberals have racked up a multi-million-dollar surplus,” Harris said. “It’s obvious that the Drive Clean program under the Liberals has evolved into nothing more than a government cash-grab.”

Nearly 11,500 frustrated Ontario drivers have voiced their opposition to the Liberals’ e-test by signing the Ontario PCs’ online petition at ScrapDriveClean.ca.