The Manitoba government is cancelling its carbon tax.
Premier Brian Pallister announced in the provincial legislature Wednesday that he will defy the federal government’s carbon-pricing strategy and drop the carbon tax from his climate strategy, focusing instead on other efforts to curb emissions.
His government was proposing a flat carbon price of $25 per tonne, while the federal government plan’s would start at $10 per tonne in 2018 and rise by $10 per year until it hit $50 per tonne by 2022.
Pallister said it’s become clear the federal government would not respect Manitoba’s plan.
Ottawa’s escalating tax would threaten jobs and the province’s economy, Pallister claimed.
He said Manitoba is not being given enough recognition from Ottawa for its green economy and use of hydroelectricity.
“We are given absolutely no credit for this,” Pallister said.
“Therefore, our course of action is clear. The federal government says Manitobans are not doing enough to protect the environment. We say no.”
Pallister did not immediately say if there would be other changes to his climate plan.
The move, which follows similar objections from Ontario and Saskatchewan, arrived in Parliament with a pointed question for the prime minister.
“Now that another province has said no carbon tax for their province, will this prime minister recognize that a carbon tax penalizes Canadians?” said Conservative MP Candice Bergen.
“It penalizes farmers, it penalizes industry, it penalizes Canadians, it does nothing to help the environment. Will he do the right thing that Brian Pallister did today and say no to the carbon tax?”
Trudeau said it’s “puzzling… why Conservatives insist on making pollution free.”
“We would prefer to work with provinces right across the country, but if they are unwilling to make sure that polluters pay, we will bring in federal measures to both collect a price on pollution and return that money to hardworking citizens right across the country.”
Pallister’s government had been reluctant to sign on to the federal government’s plan.
Legal advice sought by the province said the federal government has the jurisdictional authority to impose a carbon tax, but also suggested that if a province had an alternative plan that accomplished the same policy goal, it may be able to prevent Ottawa from interfering.
Manitoba dropped the tax from its green plan because Ottawa had refused to back down after a year of talks, Pallister said.
Todd MacKay, the prairie director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said in a statement the group was “ecstatic” with the move, which it did not see coming.