Manitoba premier says he’ll take up PM’s challenge to find carbon tax alternative

1 April 2024
Manitoba premier says he’ll take up PM’s challenge to find carbon tax alternative

Kinew says measures in this week’s provincial budget will put Manitoba on path to net zero without federal tax.

Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew says he’ll take up the prime minister’s challenge to provinces that oppose the federal carbon tax to come up with a credible alternative.

In an interview with CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton, Kinew said his government will make the case that Manitoba does not need the federal backstop.

“Manitoba has a really strong case to make that we’ve got a very credible path to net zero,” he said in the interview, which aired Sunday on Rosemary Barton Live.

Kinew said Manitoba has already “effectively decarbonized our electricity” thanks to investments in the province’s hydro grid over the past 50 years. In addition, he said new measures in his government’s upcoming budget, to be released Tuesday, will put Manitoba on track to meet the zero-emissions target without the consumer-facing federal tax.

Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew says his government plans to take up Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his offer to the provinces to suggest alternatives to the federal carbon tax. ‘We’d be happy to make that case to Manitobans,’ Kinew told CBC’s Rosemary Barton.

“Governments like ours that are committed to solving the climate crisis, at least doing our part, we have to show that we’re going to be flexible, we’re going to keep life affordable,” he said.

The Manitoba government confirmed on Thursday that it would be putting forward a proposal to exempt the province from the federal carbon tax. At a news conference in Toronto on Saturday, federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland welcomed the development.

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“Where provinces and territories are interested in and are prepared to come forward with their own provincial or territorial plans to put a price on pollution, we are very, very keen to work with them,” she said.

In a letter Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau challenged premiers who oppose the carbon tax to come up with their own approach to pricing carbon. The letter came in response to calls from seven of Canada’s premiers to pause the tax increase, set to take effect Monday.

Tax and rebates both going up

Canada’s per-tonne price on carbon is scheduled to increase from $65 to $80 on Monday.

The hike will add 3.3 cents to a litre of gasoline and 2.9 cents to a cubic metre of natural gas. The carbon rebates sent to households every three months are also being increased.

The federal “backstop” carbon price is imposed by Ottawa on provinces that have not developed a carbon pricing plan of their own that meets or exceeds the federal one.

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The policy, which was introduced by the Liberal government in 2019, includes both a tax on fossil fuels and rebates paid directly to households. It’s designed as a financial incentive to encourage people and businesses to cut their consumption of fossil fuels and transition to greener forms of energy.

Kinew, left, met with federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre in Winnipeg on Thursday. Manitoba’s premier says he believes his province can meet the net-zero emissions target without the federal carbon tax. (Steve Lambert/The Canadian Press)

Canadians living in the eight provinces where the federal carbon tax applies receive quarterly rebate payments, which vary depending on the province and the size of their household.

Quebec, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories all have their own systems and are not subject to the federal tax.

Provincial opposition

While Kinew has expressed some carbon tax apprehension over the last few months, he has not been as fiercely opposed as some of his counterparts. Premiers of seven provinces — New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador — have called on Ottawa to pause Monday’s tax increase or to scrap the program altogether.

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston was the first to express interest in developing an alternative carbon plan in response to Trudeau’s challenge, but it remains unclear whether he intends to submit a plan to Ottawa.

“We’ll have those discussions,” Houston told reporters on Wednesday. “But I think the prime minister has been very clear, I think the Liberals in general have been very clear, that they are absolutely focused and fixated on a carbon tax.”

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith calls the federal consumer carbon tax punitive and tells Power & Politics “there isn’t really any connection between the carbon tax and the practical things that need to be done if you’re going to reduce emissions.”

Three premiers — Alberta’s Danielle Smith, Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe and New Brunswick’s Blaine Higgs — appeared before the federal government’s operations committee last week to testify against the carbon tax.

“The carbon tax is just punitive,” Smith told CBC’s Power & Politics Thursday. “People are upset because they have an increase in the cost of everything they pay for and no real practical way to be able to transition to different fuels.”

Source: cbc

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