News Canada

NANNY STATE ALERT: Pop tax falls flat

By Jane Stevenson, Postmedia Network

A student group is protesting a tax on soda being mulled by the mandarins in Ottawa. SUBMITTED

A student group is protesting a tax on soda being mulled by the mandarins in Ottawa. SUBMITTED

On Thursday, Students for Liberty Canada want you to protest the federal government considering a soda pop tax.

Oakville-based spokesman David Clement says SFL Canada is setting up a socalled Nanny State Corner Store in an actual Toronto convenience store (3148 Bathurst, North York) from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. to raise awareness about the issue even though the tax is currently only in the pros-versus-cons phase.

The group will be giving away such items as plain packaged pop, chocolate bars and chips.

"Let people see what some of these regulations look like in practice," said Clement.

SFL is a non-profit charity based in Washington, D.C. and was established in 2008, with chapters in 93 countries and "a mission to empower, develop and educate young leaders for liberty.

24 Hours caught up with Clement to catch up on the sugary debate.

What is the SFL Canada's problem with the soda pop tax?

It's more a problem with lifestyle regulations in general, so the government using legislation to essentially try to curb the behaviour of adults. So our point of contention here is that realistically adults should be free to choose what they want to eat.

Do you offer an alternative to this tax?

Education would obviously be the first step. In my opinion, whenever the government puts forward a tax to try and curb behaviour, it's almost always just a means to generate more revenue; and in fact, that's what we usually see. In Denmark, they had a fat tax - and it failed before they repealed it. We've seen similar issues in New York City where they attempted some type of pop soda regulations, it didn't work and it was repealed too. The first reason we oppose these things is because they traditionally don't really work. And second, they end up usually wasting a lot of money and really treating a lot of adults like children.

Given this soda pop tax is only in the proposal state, why jump on this now?

Because people are going to start talking about it right now. For me, it's just a matter of raising that awareness to bring attention to it and it's better to do that now. Because with every government, it's very easy to pass new laws, new taxes and it's very hard to repeal them. So it's better to get a head start to combating big government when it's going to over-regulate or overtax or ban something.