Wall expresses anger over plans to introduce a national carbon tax
- 22 Jul 2016
- C. FRASER
Wall blasts feds over plans for carbon tax
Indication that price will be in place by end of year irks premier
Premier Brad Wall rarely shies away from critiquing the federal government.
He continued that trend on Thursday during the Council of the Federation meetings in Whitehorse.
In making his rounds with the media during a break in meetings with the other premiers, Wall expressed anger over the Liberal government’s recent comments on plans to introduce a national carbon tax.
When the premiers last met, Wall said the agreement among them and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was to study different ways to have a price on carbon and see how that would impact the economy.
Those working groups were set to report back in October, although interim reports of early findings were received this week.
Earlier this week, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said a price on carbon emissions will be put in place by the end of the year.
To Wall’s ears, such an announcement is premature.
“Sounds like the working group is sort of unnecessary. They’ve already come to their decision,” said Wall. “There’s going to be some sort of national price for carbon that may or may not be, frankly, that reflective or respecting of the need for flexibility in the provinces, and that’s a concern.”
The premier said that at the last round of meetings in Vancouver in March, he indicated Saskatchewan has no plans to replicate what some other provinces have done in introducing a universal carbon tax.
Instead, he argued, Saskatchewan is setting a price for carbon “on a de facto basis because we sell it to companies who use it in carbon capture sequestration.”
Coming out of the Vancouver meetings, Wall said there was an acknowledgment that such a system counted, but now he isn’t so sure the feds are on board with that. “This seems to be going in another direction and so I have a real concern about the process,” he said.
Also concerning for Wall is the approach being taken by Trudeau on the file.
“The prime minister’s committed to a much more collaborative approach with the provinces; there is always a lot of talk about collaboration,” he said. “We’ve seen a number of instances where the federal government talks about collaboration and then acts unilaterally, and this is one of them, so I have a concern about that.”
He went so far as to muse about whether or not Trudeau’s approach is any better than former prime minister Stephen Harper’s, who steadfastly refused to collaborate with the province’s on many issues.
“With the previous government, there wasn’t much talk about working collaboratively, so there were no surprises, but frankly, I’m not sure which is better,” said Wall. “If it’s truly a collaboration, if we’re truly going to work through the process and report on it in October, then why is the prime minister and the environment minister seemingly precluding the work of these working groups?”
With some sort of price on carbon emissions seemingly inevitable, much of the remaining conversations at the gathering of the premiers will likely be focused on the file.