Canadian Manufacturing

Opponents dig in, threaten to fight carbon tax ‘tooth and nail’

Provinces, territories remain divided over economic toll, environmental impact of carbon price introduced in Ottawa last week



SaskPower's Boundary Dam 3 project in Estevan, Sask. PHOTO: SaskPower

Despite recent cleantech investments, such as the carbon capture project at SaskPower’s Boundary Dam, Saskatchewan still relies heavily on coal for electricity, a factor that could lead to steep costs under the carbon tax. PHOTO: SaskPower

OTTAWA—A week after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government would implement a nationwide carbon tax, provincial and territorial leaders opposed to the plan are calling for exemptions, the recognition of past carbon-cutting measures and threatening legal action against Ottawa.

Following the immediate outcry last week, led by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall, voices of dissent continued to echo through Canadian legislatures over the weekend.

None were more vocal than Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski, who said he would “fight the carbon tax tooth and nail.” Also gearing up for a territorial election, Pasloski said he would “stand up for our true north.”

Though the leaders of Canada’s two other Arctic regions have voiced their concerns, both Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod and Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna seem more willing to work with the federal government to implement the tax—so long as some special cold-climate considerations are taken into account. Cutting down on diesel use in Canada’s North has been an enduring trend.


The basics: Why tax carbon, are there alternatives and where will the money go?
Wall, meanwhile, has continued to blast Trudeau over the tax, which will settle at a minimum of $10 per tonne of carbon dioxide in 2018 and reach $50 per tonne by 2022.

“This is a fight for Saskatchewan’s interests,” Wall said at the legislature late last week. He also questioned the legality of the move and asked his Justice Department to investigate.

“The question I have is, how, if there are two or three or one province at the end of the day, that says, ‘We’re not doing it,’ and the federal government wants then to develop and levy their own federal tax, how do they do it on one province?” Wall said.

With Quebec and Ontario backing the plan, Atlantic Canada divided and Alberta saying it will support the carbon tax in exchange for pipeline approvals, the Canadian landscape remains unsurprisingly divided.

Those opposed mainly cite higher costs of energy and restricted economic growth, while Ottawa says the tax will ensure Canada is doing its part to help address climate change.

Last week, a high-profile group of business executives also backed the deal, while an economist noted the tax will weigh heaviest on regions without existing hydro resources.

—With files from Bob Weber, Jennifer Graham of The Canadian Press

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