Ottawa is willing to take another look at Manitoba’s carbon tax.
“Our government would of course be open to working with Premier (Brian) Pallister in the fight against climate change,” federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic Le Blanc said in an email Oct. 25. “If the Premier would like to reconsider rescinding Manitoba’s proposal, we would give that due consideration, and take another serious look at what Manitoba has proposed.”
Pallister wasn’t immediately available for comment.
Pallister told reporters Oct. 4 he was scrapping Manitoba’s flat $25 a tonne carbon tax because the federal government was imposing its own.
Since Ottawa doesn’t respect Manitoba’s carbon tax Manitoba has two choices, Pallister said.
“Either you’re going to stand up for Manitobans in a year (2020), when the feds come in as they threaten to do with a higher carbon tax, or you do it now and we’re doing it now,” he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced details of the federal government’s carbon tax and rebate program Oct. 22.
It applies to Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick – provinces that haven’t developed their own carbon price plan, or the plan doesn’t meet Ottawa’s standards.
Under the federal plan starting in April 2019 the price of carbon emissions in Manitoba will be $20 a tonne, rising $10 a year to $50 by 2022.
Under that schedule Ottawa’s carbon tax would be $30 a tonne in 2020 – $5 a tonne more than Manitoba’s proposed carbon tax.
Both carbon price plans would exempt fuels used to run farm equipment.
Pallister has complained Ottawa has a two-tiered plan, giving other provinces such as Quebec more flexibility than Manitoba.
Trudeau says all the revenue collected from Ottawa’s carbon price plan will be returned to citizens and non-profit organizations. He also says most Manitoban’s will receive more in carbon price rebates than they’ll pay in carbon taxes.
Under Pallister’s plan the revenues would be used to cut personal and corporate income taxes by $260 million over five years.
Pallister argued Manitoba’s carbon tax, would be more effective than Ottawa’s because it started off higher and takes into account the billions of dollars Manitobans have, and will continue to invest in almost carbon-free hydro electric power.
“We know that putting a price on pollution is good for the economy and good for the environment, which means that it’s good for the middle class,” Le Blanc said. “Our government worked with provinces and territories for two years to put a price on pollution, giving them the flexibility to design an approach that made sense for their province.”
See more details on this issue in the Nov. 1 issue of the Manitoba Co-operator.